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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

A Painted House (review)

Who knew? John Grisham doesn’t only write legal potboilers that get turned into popcorn movies — he also writes sentimental coming-of-age dramas that get picked up by Hallmark Hall of Fame and transformed into innocuous, if well-meaning, greeting cards: “Thinking of you during your mildly troubled adolescence.” It’s a summer he’ll remember for the rest of his life, of course, for Luke Chandler (Logan Lerman), ten years old and a bit of a rascal, of course, when a pretty girl and dangerous hired help and a surprise baby and a murder all converge on his family’s rural Arkansas cotton farm. When else could this be set but the 1950s, when gentle lessons about tolerance and bigotry hung like apples in the orchard, ripe for picking, and steely grandfathers (like Scott Glenn’s here) held automatic transmissions to be citified. Hormones will be stirred, lessons will be learned, young lads who romp down the crick all day will get baths every Saturday whether they need it or not, and unnecessary and redundant voiceovers will make sure nary an obvious point is missed. The worst — and best — that can be said about it all is that it’s inoffensive.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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