The Hallmark Hall of Fame moved from CBS to ABC this year. Their first production was a film adaptation of Mitch Albion's book Have a Little Faith. The Hallmark Hall of Fame production starred Bradley Whitford and was an excellent movie full of inspiration and warmth. However it failed to attract much of an audience. Now they are presenting A Smile As Big As the Moon which is based on the book by Mike Kersjes with Joe Layton. It is another feel good film and deserves to be seen.
The film tells the true story of Mike Kersjes (John Corbett) who is a coach as well as a teacher for special education students at a public school in Michigan. He and his assistant teacher Robyn McKinney (Jessy Schram) are dedicated to making their students believe in themselves. They encourage them daily to be the best they can possibly be. This is important as these kids are taught in a class in the basement and they are constantly made fun of by the other students at the school.
On a visit to a planetarium the students pick up brochures about "Space Camp" in Huntsville, Alabama. They tell Mr. Kersjes how exciting it would be to be a part of something like that. Wanting to help his kids feel there is nothing they can't do, Kersjes contacts the Space Camp but is told it is not available for special needs kids. This turn down only inspires him to try to get an exception made, and this is what the movie is about.
In this movie the acting is good but it is not as important as the story and the emotional impact of the story. Knowing it is true only makes it better -- and believable. As fiction it would be a fantasy. In this day and time we need a few stories about "miracles" and this Hallmark Hall of Fame production gives us one.
John Corbett has never impressed me as being a major talent as an actor but he is the go to man when it comes to portraying characters of warmth -- and character! He is spot on in this movie and manages to be slightly gruff at times but always reachable for the kids. Schram, Logan Huffman and Cynthia Waltros provide good support in the acting field.
This is not a shoot em up or car chasing epic. It is a quiet movie that reaches your heart and your mind with its message of how we are all special. It is in the tradition of Hallmark's "Front of the Class" and should draw a big audience. At least I hope it does.
Hallmark Hall of Fame is consistently offering inspirational and dramatic movies that feed our minds and touch our souls. Make sure you don't miss a single one of their offerings -- especially A Smile As Big As the Moon.
This program airs Sunday, January 29 at 9PM on ABC.