"Away and Back" (Hallmark Hall of Fame)
It is time to celebrate as the real "Hallmark Hall of Fame" is back. After too many years of silly comedies and soapy romances this special event of television has returned to the hallmark of what it once represented -- good, enjoyable family entertainment. The show that brings it back is "Away and Back," an original movie that is endearing and enjoyable.
"Away and Back" presents Jason Lee portraying Jack Peterson, a widower raising three children. The youngest of the three is Frankie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), a young girl trying to get her world back together after her mother's death. Her loneliness leads her to fixate on the arrival of two trumpeter swans at the family pond. The swans lay a nest of eggs and Frankie is amazed.
When word of the eggs reach Ginny Newsom's ears she immediately comes to the Peterson property. Ginny (Minka Kelly) is a wilderness biologist/ornithologist. She declares the eggs are the government's property and packs them up for study. This provides Frankie with another loss. Soon. However, she convinces her father to take the entire family to the wilderness park where the young cygnets are being kept.
The whole theme of things (and people) leaving and coming back is played throughout the show. Each absence teaches a lesson and each return gladdens the heart. Nothing in the story feels rushed or fabricated and each incident is played out to the fullest.
The cinematography is beautiful and the scenes of the landscape with the swans is picturesque. Everything is done to bring the viewer into the story. The look, the sound, the acting and the story are all complementary to make the whole effective.
Lee and Kelly are perfectly cast as the two adult leads while Jones proves child actors don't have to be pretentious and/or cloyingly sweet. The actors who play Frankie's brothers, Connor Paton and Jaren Lewison, are also completely believable in their roles.
"The Hallmark Hall of Fame" had a nice long run on network television and now it is seen on cable's Hallmark Channel. I urge you to seek this movie out and let yourself surrender to its impressive story of love, loss and hope. Watch it with your family. You will all enjoy it.
"Away and Back" airs on the Hallmark Channel, Sunday, January 25 at 8PM AT/PT.
Jackie K Cooper