Movie Review

All Roads Lead Home

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material and brief language.

Reviewed by: Dymphna Meeds
CONTRIBUTOR

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Family, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
September 26, 2008
DVD release: January 13, 2009
Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Vision Films / Waldo West Productions

Horses in the Bible

Dogs in the Bible

Death

Eternal life—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Featuring: Peter Coyote, Jason London, Peter Boyle, Vivien Cardone, Patton Oswalt, Vanessa Branch, Evan Parke, April Bowlby, Walter Coppage, Allan Kayser, Bruce Heinrich, Hank Rector, Joe Backer, Brent Crawford, Aubrey Fallon, Caylee Fallon, Peter Fopeano, Ryan Hodapp, Shannon Knopke, Stephen Milton, Mike Neighbors, Nick Padgett, John Redmond, Olivia Wigginton
Director: Dennis Fallon
Producer: Waldo West Productions, Brenda Anders, Dennis Fallon, Charles W. Nelson, Sara Thaemlitz
Distributor: Vision Films / Waldo West Productions

“Sometimes we’re so soaked up in our own misery that we don’t see how we’re hurting others.”

This simple yet deep phrase describes the way most people live their lives—so caught up in themselves they have no time for anyone else. Often these people don’t even know how they are affecting the world around them. Everything a person does affects everyone in their life for better or for worse. This is one of the issues that “All Roads Lead Home” teaches.

Belle Lawlor (Vivien Cardone from “A Beautiful Mind”) leads the ideal life. A loving family, books, even a new puppy!—everything a young girl could wish for. However, her young life is forever changed when her mother makes a small mistake and is tragically killed. The once spunky and vibrant Belle is now a moody, pale child who feels rejected by the world. Based on a true story, this movie depicts a realistic view of a suffering family.

From an enjoyment point of view, this is a very heart-wrenching movie! I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much during one show before. Vivien Cardone was perfectly cast for her role. She had the cuteness, charm, spunk, and depth for Belle. Peter Coyote (“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “A Walk to Remember,” “Resurrecting the Champ,” “The Basket”) as Hock Banyon, Jason London (“Dazed and Confused,” “Out Cold,” “The Rage: Carrie 2”) as Cody and Evan Parke (“King Kong”) as Bashamwere were equally superb. Most of the other acting was mediocre though. This movie did drag on a bit and then seemed to fly by at parts. However, on the whole, I found this a very engaging, sweet movie.

Positives: In the first ten minutes of this movie, we observe a terrible loss. This movie doesn’t dwell in hopelessness like some movies or move past it and go on with normal life like other movies (“The Pacifier”). Instead, it offers a heartbreaking and eye-opening look at what deep loss is about. Slowly, throughout the whole movie, we see people lose loved ones—Belle’s mother, Cody’s wife, Hock’s daughter, and Bashamwere’s friend along with numerous citizens whose dogs die and a elderly gentleman, Poovey’s (Peter Boyle from “Taxi Driver,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Monster’s Ball”) wife and business. Through all these different people, we learn how different people deal with loss.

Belle is furious that her mother died. She believes that her mother had a chance to live and her father decided to let her die. “I feel like I’m going around in circles and not getting anywhere.” she laments. Alone and empty, Belle frequently bursts out into fits of anger at her father (“I’d rather eat slugs!” she yells at him after he tries to show her a surprise), lets her grades slip, drops activities she used to love, cuts herself off from others (“I like gymnastics because you can do it alone.”), and disobeys orders. Although these are all negative, they are all shown for what they are—not portrayed in a good light. And there’s no getting around the fact that when you’ve experienced a grave loss it is excruciatingly hard for a mature person to think and see things straight, much less a child. Slowly, we see her mature and gain some of her old spark. The girl who stands up and speaks the truth and helps others in the end is a far different girl than the moody, silent child in the beginning. In fact, she is willing to sacrifice what she wants, to help her grandfather. As she says, “He’s broken, and no one’s there to pat him on the head.”

Hock, like Belle, has cut off many of his social ties, only this time from his granddaughter and son-in-law. Tough and bitter on the outside, he is secretly hurting, but is too stubborn to show it. He believes that Cody was driving the car when his daughter died. By the end, he is willing to say that it doesn’t matter who was driving the car. Also, Hock doesn’t care about any of the animals he raises or anyone other than him; all he wants is money. As he scolds his granddaughter “All animals are good for is food, clothing, money, and such issues. They ain’t for loving.” Although we understand that animals are less than humans, they are still created by God, and he still loves them down to the littlest sparrow! Slowly, Hock comes out of his shell. Belle truthfully tells him at one point “You’re not the big, mean bear you want everyone to think you are!” And, indeed, we slowly see he isn’t. He stays up all night reading to his granddaughter, like her mom used to do for her, hugs her, listens to her, and gives her a paycheck and clothing.

On the other hand, Cody is trying to lead a normal life. Although he is still in pain, he is handling his life better than anyone else. Mostly, he is having trouble reaching his daughter. By the end, he is able to make that connection and love her completely. We also see him willing to forgive himself for not dying when his wife did. He realizes that all three of them are hurting. As he puts it, “We’re all dealing with this in our own ways. Let’s deal with it together.” Slowly, but surely, we see them working together and being a family once again.

One of the biggest messages in this movie is about killing. Belle believes the worst thing someone can do is to kill a living thing. At one point, she yells, “You don’t kill things! You give them a chance!” Much of the killing is centered around animals, but some of it is about humans, too. We are shown how euthanasia’s effects are negative to those involved and how every life no matter how sick, small, broken, or useless is important.

Although there is much talk of dying and hurt in this movie, there is definite hope. Cody falls in love with another woman, people whose dogs died find new ones, Poovey’s business comes back, and life goes on. In fact, close to the end of the movie we see a rainbow in the sky. A promise of hope and life.

In that same spirit, Cody talks about being selfish and not letting his wife go. And then he goes on to say one of the most inspiring lines in the whole movie. “I just know she went some place good and special. And she deserves to be there.”

Before the car crash, we see a very beautiful example of family life. Indeed, if they hadn’t had that foundation, they probably wouldn’t have made it nearly as easily.

When Cody lies and leaves some animals in a motel room, the owner Poovey finds out. However, instead of yelling at him or worse, Poovey asks if there is anything he can do to help with them.

One of the ranch hands saves animals, instead of killing them, because they were bred wrong. We see how he is willing to risk his job to do the right thing.

Hock and Belle talking about Heaven and if there are animals there. They both come to different conclusions, and even though you might disagree with Belle’s it is handled respectfully and gracefully.

Possible Negatives: The worst is there are three H***s and three Oh My G**s. Also, just the fact that this movie deals with death might make some families think twice before going.

One awkward moment has Cody asking for a room at a motel. His co-worker interrupts and asks for it to be in the back, causing the cashier to give them a strange look. However, Cody just wants to put animals in the room.

The mother’s death is handled carefully. She is shown right before the car accident, we see her scream, and then afterwards in the hospital. We don’t see her body there, just Cody and Belle with bandages and some blood on them. However, it is not gruesome. Likewise, when a dog bites a man, you see the dog growl for a while and the lunge. The bite is never shown. Belle falls on a railroad track with a train coming. However, a dog saves her. Bashawere tells Belle that a horse could kick her head off.

Cody’s girlfriend has some low cleavage and shows a little midriff. She also kisses Cody.

We see Cody, Belle, and Bashamwere all being teased by others.

Someone is told to “can it.” A bird is said to have bit someone’s butt. Someone says that they will can someone’s butt. Cody says he’s going to ring (wring) Belle. Belle says, “I hate you,” but feels bad later. A dog pees on a lady. A man says it rained “like God wet his pants”.

Several times, Belle puts herself or others in danger. However, she is scolded every time. Twice. she lets animals roam free, she sneaks outside, jumps in a river, and runs away.

Hock is shown drinking alcohol several times. A lady invites her boss to a martini place.

We see someone about to cut up a dog for research and then later looking at it under a microscope. However, nothing gruesome is shown either time.

On the whole, this is a surprisingly sweet and clean movie that held my interest. Children won’t be as fond of it, but many adults and teens will be able to relate to the pain of loss. As Christians, we know we can always turn to God in times of need. It is truly too bad they had that element missing from this touching movie, because, otherwise, it is a wonderful piece of art!

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—“All Roads Lead Home” is a wonderful family film. I watched this movie with children ages 8, 10, 11 and 14 and they loved this film as much as I did. I don’t understand why someone would rate this movie as offensive. The whole movie is about a little girl who believes all things deserve a chance no matter what. This is a must see, especially if you love animals.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Bill Hoffman, age 47 (USA)
Neutral

none

Negative
Negative—Warning! This is a pro-death movie! Although there is a lot of talk about not euthanizing animals, the father is clear that not a day goes by that he doesn’t regret not removing life support from his wife after their car accident. He says he is “ashamed that he was so selfish” for not pulling the life support. He refers to his wife’s time on life support as “eternity” and says that he “didn’t know where she was.” He said that he knew she was “going to someplace better” and that she “deserved to go there sooner.” The daughter is shown to finally understand that her dad didn’t “euthanize” her mother, but that he should have!

Later in the movie, when there is a question about putting a dog down for biting someone, the daughter decides that they should do it themselves, because otherwise the poor dog would spend an “eternity” waiting around in the pound for the judge’s decision. She then makes her dad proud by insisting that the dog be put down, even when the person who was bitten tries to stop her. This is pro-death propaganda that Christians need to protest against, not embrace. I do not recommend anyone seeing this movie, especially young children who will be subtly affected by a pro-death philosophy that is (somewhat) hidden behind all the “oh, it’s so wrong to kill the doggies” hype. Don’t be deceived! And don’t let your children be deceived!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Vickie, age 48 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This is such a sweet and touching movie! Be prepared to cry if you go! I loved the acting and the scenery. Also it was super touching! It’s a must see for all who are struggling with loss or not. It really taught me how to help care for others!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Anna Rose, age 17
Negative—I thought from reading your review that this would be a great family film that I would love. But my brothers and I hated it! It was way too depressing and confusing. The girl acts like such a brat, and she purposely disobeys her father and grandfather several times, but, at the end, THEY are the ones who apologize! And the movie is brought to it’s “everything’s alright now” conclusion by everybody letting the girl take charge and act like she knows better than everyone else! Environmentalists would love this movie, but I would not recommend it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Katie, age 16 (USA)