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The Magic of Belle Isle Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    A crotchety, alcoholic, wheelchair-bound coot played on cruise control by Morgan Freeman learns these recycled lessons in a pastel-colored, embroidered wall-hanging of a drama directed by Rob Reiner.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The New York Times Stephen Holden

    Ms. Madsen, radiant and tousled, without a trace of narcissism, conveys maternal devotion, undaunted courage and a serene sensuality. Real, if idealized, grown-ups: We haven't seen them much in the movies lately, but here they are.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 9+

Family drama has syrupy plot but fabulous performances.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Magic of Belle Isle is a drama about the inter-generational friendship between an old alcoholic writer and the three young sisters who live next door. Although the movie is rated PG, director Rob Reiner explores some heavy themes, like alcoholism, grief, divorce, and disability. There's also some strong-for-the-rating language ("s--t," "ass," "damn," "Jesus H. Christ" said a couple of times each), and a couple of quick kisses (one is in a dream). The bond that forms between the crotchety author (Morgan Freeman) and the girls may remind younger viewers that seniors have lived full, rich lives and still have something to say.

  • Families can talk about the theme of aging. Most movies portray the elderly in supporting roles as grandparents or neighbors, but in The Magic of Belle Isle, the aged author is the main character. How do you feel when you see older people in leading roles?
  • How is alcoholism portrayed in the movie? What are Monte's reasons for drinking? How does his drinking get in the way of his creativity?
  • What other movies address the relationship between seniors and kids? Talk about elderly folks you know who might be cool to talk to, learn from, and hang out with more often.

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: The Magic of Belle Isle is about the transformational power of friendship and how it's possible to make life-changing connections with people who are generations older/younger than you. It's also a story about creativity and how to work through personal difficulties.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Finn and Monte have a sweet inter-generational friendship that helps them both become more creative. Despite his many flaws, Monte's relationship with the girls (he isn't condescending with them) is just what they need as they process their parents' divorce. Charlotte is a good mother who's doing her best to soften the blow of her marital breakup.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Monte wields a gun at a clown (albeit comically). He shoots it in the air, but no one is hurt.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Monte begins to fancy the lovely (and much younger) Charlotte, and he dreams of them waltzing in the moonlight and kissing. Later on she does kiss him briefly. A few suggestive comments.

  • language false3

    Language: A couple of uses of "s--t," as well as "bitch" (but in its literal meaning as a female dog), "ass," "damn," "hell," and the exclamation "Jesus H. Christ." Monte makes some abrasive comments, like "God told me to be an atheist." Finn calls Monte a "no-good drunk."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: It's a major plot point that Monte is an alcoholic, although it's discussed more than it's shown. He buys a lot of Scotch and is shown with empty bottles and glasses, but he tends to act tipsy rather than really, really drunk.