Movie News & Reviews

'Where Hope Grows': It's not always obvious

Where Hope Grows is a sometimes moving and generally watchable melodrama about a drunken ex-ballplayer who finds purpose and a friend back in his home town.

But unlike most faith-based films, it isn't a church that saves him, a pastor or a devout Christian who shows him the way. It's a teen with Down syndrome.

The kid is nicknamed Produce, thanks to his job at the local supermarket. That's where Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) stumbles into him. Calvin's a single dad whose teen daughter (McKaley Miller) is making bad choices, but he's typically too tipsy to notice. He's adrift, bitter about his lost career, refusing to look for a new one.

Produce is in the habit of hugging people he's just met. And Calvin is struck by Produce's in-the-moment optimism.

Calvin lets himself befriend Produce, and even though he resists the kid's invitations to church, his always positive attitude starts to rub off.

Where Hope Grows is all fairly routine, even if there's a moment of violence, a hint of profanity, a little drinking and an unfaithful wife (Danica McKellar of The Wonder Years). But it works, here and there, and Polaha is believable as an ex-jock and ex-jerk who lets a child lead him out of the darkness.