‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’ Is A “Great” Family Flick

Courtesy: Lionsgate Premium

Courtesy: Lionsgate Premium

Every year during the holiday season it seems that audiences are stuck watching the same fare both on television and in theaters.  Sure, tradition’s a good thing.  But how much tradition can people handle before it just becomes trite?  Thankfully, next month Lionsgate Premium will release a new offering to break that monotony.  It is the studio’s small screen adaptation of author Katherine Paterson’s children’s book The Great Gilly Hopkins.  The movie, which runs 99 minutes, is an interesting new holiday offering and an equally entertaining first-time adaptation of the book.  That is due in no small part to the story at the movie’s center.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in its presentation as its central story.  It will be discussed later.  The movie’s bonus “making of” featurette rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important part in the movie’s overall presentation.  All things considered, The Great Gilly Hopkins proves to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 holiday movie season.

Lionsgate Premium’s small screen adaptation of The Great Gilly Hopkins is one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 holiday movie season.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story.  For the most part, this adaptation strives to stay loyal to its source material.  That’s a rarity both for big screen and small screen literary adaptations.  The fact that Paterson’s son David directly handled the adaptation of his mother’s book is likely why it stayed true to its source material.  Kudos are definitely in order considering this.  The story follows its pre-teen protagonist as she comes of age and learns to let love in again after being hurt so many times by being tossed around in the foster system.  She learns to let love in as she learns that a family doesn’t have to be a biological family.  What makes the story work is its ability to make audiences suspend their disbelief. It is so believable because it was presented in a realistic fashion instead of just being another run-of-the-mill saccharine sweet drama about family.  Considering that the movie centers on family and is so faithfully adapted, it is interesting that the story was adapted by a mother and son team.  It’s a parallel of sorts, and an interesting one that will generate its own share of discussion.  This is just one way in which the story stands out in this year’s field of holiday fare.  The fact that it only uses the holidays as a backdrop makes it stand out even more.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins stands out in the movie’s presentation because of its faithful adaptation from its source material.  That is just one way in which it stands out.  It also stands out in the fact that its holiday material remains in the story’s  background rather than being at the story’s center.  There are scenes that take place on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But for the most part, the story’s holiday material is little more than background.  Considering that, the movie could be considered a holiday movie and a general family drama that just uses the holidays as a backdrop.  It is a respectable balance, and when set alongside the story’s central story, adds even more depth and enjoyment to the movie’s overall presentation.  Keeping all of this in mind, this movie’s story proves an integral part of its presentation.  It isn’t the movie’s only important element, either.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to its presentation as its story.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins is a key piece of the movie’s presentation.  It stays as true as possible to its source material.  That is rare for any literary work adapted to the big screen and small.  The fact that it keeps its holiday elements more in a supporting role than primary makes it even more enjoyable.  Considering all of this, the movie’s story proves to be a key piece of the movie’s presentation.  It is not the movie’s only key element.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as its story.  The work of the movie’s cast is so important to note because it is just as believable as the story.  Kathy Bates (The Blindside, Misery, Titanic) leads the cast in her role as Maime Trotter. She absolutely nails down Maime right down to the southern accent.  There are so many actors and actresses who try to get that accent but fail miserably because they try too hard.  In Bates’ case, she gets it just right.  Maime’s determination to make a difference in Gilly’s life despite Gilly’s behavior is just as powerful.  She had plenty of chances throughout the movie to really ham it up, but never took that opportunity.  Instead, she showed her years of experience.  In turn, she makes audiences absolutely love her as that surrogate mother figure.  Hers is just one of the performances that stands out here.  Fellow lead star Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Endorphine, Pawn Sacrifice) is just as impressive as Bates.

Kathy Bates’ performance as Maime Trotter is one of the most enjoyable performances by this movie’s cast.  That is because she exhibits her years of experience here just as much as she has in her more well-known performances.  She makes Maime such a loveable and believable character.  Hers is just one of the performances that stands out in this movie.  Fellow cast mate Sophie Nelisse is just as enjoyable to watch as the movie’s title character.  Nelisse is just as believable as Bates as she portrays Hopkins’ naivety and emotional turmoil in her youth.  Just as in the case of Bates, it would have been so easy for Nelisse to overact as she brought Gilly to life.  But even at the tender age of 16, Nelisse handles her role with the expertise of a seasoned veteran.  Considering that, she again proves just as enjoyable to watch as Bates and the rest of the movie’s star-studded cast.  That cast includes the likes of Glenn Close (Damages, 101 Dalmations, The Shield), Octavia Spencer (The Help, Zootopia, Being John Malkovich), Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum, The Bodyguard, The Color of Money) and Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You, Silver Linings Playbook, Dexter).  The work of the movie’s cast works in partner with its story directly to make the movie even more enjoyable than considering the elements alone.  They are not its only key elements.  The movie’s bonus “making of” featurette is just as important to note in examining the movie’s overall presentation as its story and the cast’s ability to carry the story.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins and the cast’s ability to carry the movie are both key to the movie’s overall presentation.  The story is key to the movie’s presentation because it stays true to its source material and expertly balances its story with its holiday elements.  The cast’s work as it carried the story is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story.  That is because the cast’s work is so believable all the way around.  While both elements are key to the movie’s presentation, they are not its only key elements.  The movie’s bonus “making of” featurette is just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story and the work of its cast in interpreting the story.

The story at the center of The Great Gilly Hopkins and the cast’s work throughout that story are both critical to the movie’s overall presentation.  The story is critical to the movie’s presentation because of how closely it follows its source material.  The cast’s work is just as important to note due to the ease with which they make viewers suspend their disbelief.  While both elements are clearly pivotal to the movie’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The movie’s bonus making of featurette is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story and the work of its cast.  The movie’s bonus “making of’ featurette isn’t necessarily long.  It averages about 15 minutes, if that.  But in that short time, audiences get to hear from the movie’s cast as well as its writer and director.  The discussions are on the characters themselves as well as the importance of the story.  Julia Stiles only appears for a couple of minutes near the movie’s end—not to give away too much—but she makes an important statement in her bonus interview.  She points out that she was drawn to the movie because it wasn’t too saccharine or too dark and moody.  That is something that this critic already pointed out, too.  Kathy Bates discusses her role as Maime and the role that she plays in the movie’s grand scheme.  Audiences even get to hear from Katherine Paterson and her son in this extra material.  The elder Paterson discusses the real life influence on the book that would become The Great Gilly Hopkins while son David discusses the story’s adaptation from printed page to small screen.  These discussions and so much more add yet another layer of depth to the movie’s presentation.  When the whole of the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette is set alongside the movie’s story and the work of the movie’s cast, all three elements join together to make The Great Gilly Hopkins a “great” family flick.

The Great Gilly Hopkins is a great family flick and one of the biggest surprises of the genre so far this year.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story and the work of its superstar cast.  The movie’s bonus material adds just as much depth and enjoyment to the movie as those previously noted elements.  All things considered, this movie proves to be one of the most surprising of this year’s family offerings and one of the genre’s best offerings, too.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, December 6.  It can be pre-ordered online now via Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=34393&TitleParentId=10502.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgate

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s