- Movie Rating -

Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)

| May 22, 1987

There are a million ways that Amazing Grace and Chuck could have embarrassed itself.  I mean, it’s about a 12-year-old little boy so moved by the threat of nuclear annihilation that he makes headlines when he refuses to play baseball until the weapons are no longer a threat.  That sounds like a limp TV-movie style plot, or the storyline of one of those books for 5th graders.

And yet, this is a very perceptive movie that reminded me of the kinds of social justice pictures that Frank Capra use to make.  At the outward framework, its plot is silly beyond words, but there’s something real here.  Unlike Beverly Hills Cop II in which the producers had a general contempt for the audiences, the director here Mike Newell and the screenwriter David Field manage to pull a manageable and even thoughtful movie out of a ridiculous premise.

The story opens small with a little boy named Chuck – well played by Joshua Zuehlke – who lives with his parents in Montana.  He plays baseball for the local team and has a fastball that is invaluable.  One day he goes on a tour of one of those nuclear missile bases near his home and is so shaken by it that he decides to stage a protest.  He won’t play baseball anymore until those weapons are disarmed.  What is the point, he reasons, of playing baseball or anything else if we’re all going to end up as ash and vapor at the hands of those terrible weapons.

Of course, you may be asking, ‘who cares if this kid plays baseball?’  Well, a lot of people, and Chuck’s protest makes the national news.  Some people are upset; so much so that his parents begin receiving death threats.  But others stand by his side, among them star player Amazing Grace Smith (Alex English of the Denver Nuggets).  He leaves Boston, announces that he is joining Chuck’s protest and moves to Montana.  Very soon other big-league players join in from across the country.

Of course, most people poo-poo the ideas presented here, but it does ask you to open your mind.  The key to the movie is that it isn’t wall-to-wall with words.  The kid (mercifully) doesn’t talk his ideas to death, even during a visit from the POTUS himself played in a laid-back performance by Gregory Peck.

Naturally, such a story is ridiculous on realistic terms but Amazing Grace and Chuck is not dealing in realism.  Rather it is dealing in idealism.  This is a movie that very thoughtfully, very carefully considers such a scenario and ends with the words “Wouldn’t it be nice” and I thought about this for a long time.  Wouldn’t it be nice if such a small protest did spread across the globe and draw out the best in people who would come together for a common cause?  Wouldn’t it be nice.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Drama