Based on a True Story
Steven Weber stars as Terry Pulaski, a marine who returns home from his tour in Afghanistan with a debilitating shrapnel wound and an unwanted desk job. His wife (Kendall Cross) and daughter Alice (Rowan Rycroft) try to help him through bouts of depression and post-traumatic-stress disorder, but a final medical discharge from the service throws him over the edge. He finds comfort with Duke, the stray dog that suddenly wanders into the family's life. Fast forward 10 years and Terry, like thousands of vets in California, is now living on the streets. Convinced he was dragging his family down with him, he abandoned his wife and daughter and hasn't seen them since. He does still have Duke, his faithful companion, who entertains locals while Terry works odd jobs fixing appliances.
When Duke suddenly falls seriously ill, Terry doesn't have the money for endless tests and decides to have him put down, but doesn't have the heart to stay and watch the deed done. Leaving a note at the animal hospital in apology, he goes off to try putting his life back together, without realizing the doc isn't ready to give up on Duke, or that his now-grown daughter (Sarah Smyth) has never really given up on him, either.
Director Mark Jean takes a script that has all the earmarks of a classic country song (even the old Winnebago breaks down at one point) and gives it more mettle than the average Hallmark yarn. The pic has a flag-waving, pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ethos, but also delivers a look at a system that provides better care to pets than veterans returning from war.
Weber conveys the overwhelming heartache and trauma of PTSD while maintaining a sense of pride. By making it believable for a man who has everything to lose it all, "Duke" calls attention to the plight of troubled veterans without getting preachy.
- Laura Fries
"... a poignant journey of self-discovery ... Showtime's beautifully made adaptation starring Anne Bancroft and a splendid child cast ... Bancroft's vanity-free portrayal of a combative, aging recluse is a pleasure."
"... gripping emotional journey ... well-developed script and lovely, clear-eyed acting. Bancroft fashions a shaded, fully dimensioned character. Homecoming is a movie about family that families should see and savor together ..."
"Homecoming is that rare event, a first-rate family film with the sharp tang of reality ... genuinely emotional and engrossing heart-warmer."
"Eloquent performances distinguish this beautifully crafted 1996 made-for-cable drama."
"Helmer/co-scriptor Mark Jean tells the story with deft framing and languid pacing ... the chemistry of the cast and Jean's intimate direction of them keeps the piece compelling."
"Quality alert ... a superbly wrought family drama..."
"A movie with Anne Bancroft and four child actors talented enough to hold their own with her is almost too much to expect. But that unlikely mix is just what happens in Homecoming, a heart warming family drama ... Jean takes top marks for his sensitive hand. It's to his credit that the children, all relative newcomers, do so well."
" ... so good, others in the series ought to be filmed, too. Homecoming will stand tall among the best made-for-TV films of the current season ... Bancroft is marvelous."
As the human incarnation of border collie Finn, Belleville exhibits every canine trait with such sweet enthusiasm that it's impossible not to like him. Whether he's hoovering up spilled chips, catching the Frisbee mid-air, or enthusiastically licking faces of those he loves, he makes for a remarkable Rover.
Finn on the Fly scored at Sprockets kids' film fest this spring, picking up the audience award for best feature film … there's something doggone lovable about Finn on the Fly, especially for pooch owners who spend time wondering just what's going on between those furry ears.- The Toronto Star
And hey, my kid loved every minute of it. In a film of this, um, pedigree, that’s really the only critic that counts. - Chris Alexander, Metro News, Edmonton
The book WHO OWNS THE SUN was written by 14-year-old Stacy Chbosky. Its publication was the result of a nationwide writing contest sponsored by Landmark Editions. Disney secured the film rights and when production began, Stacy was flown to the Los Angeles set to observe filming. Her book adapted for the screen, was co-written and directed by Mark Jean.
And now for something completely different: an original movie that is, of all things, original. SPECIAL DELIVERY is a Christmas present from Fox Family Channel that entertains in a big way. And Dick’s (NEWS RADIO) performance as a bumbling but well-meaning adoption agency courier comes close to comic perfection in this extremely funny holiday pic.
Dick plays Lloyd Steadman, an incompetent employee at a Southern California adoption agency who is asked to deliver a baby to his new family in time for Christmas. But one minute into Dick’s performance we see that getting the baby anywhere is going to be a miracle. Lloyd must pick up the baby at LAX and fly with him to the East Coast to his adoptive family. Everything goes wrong, owing to Lloyd’s fear of flying and nervousness in taking on such a big responsibility. But he creates a charming mess for those of us watching.
Mark Jean directs Dick with flair, giving him plenty of room to mug for the camera and win over the viewer. Steven Kampmann’s script (from an original story by Kampmann, Chris Kampmann and Bosco Flanagan) is charming and tailor-made for Dick’s antics. SPECIAL DELIVERY is a riot from start to finish.- Marilyn Moss