Friday, May 4, 2012

To My Daughter with Love (1994) TV Movie

TV REVIEWS : 'To My Daughter' Is Rigorously Candid
January 24, 1994|RAY LOYND

"To My Daughter with Love," starring Rick Schroder as a newly widowed dad, is pretty unblinking in its depiction of the rigors of single parenthood (tonight, Channel 4, 9 p.m.).

It's also unusually lachrymose and downbeat for a movie presented under the banner of Disney Family Classics. Sure, it's predictably heartwarming at the fade-out, but the rest of the story is too rigorously candid to be cheerful. Sentimentality takes a holiday in a script (by Michael de Guzman) that almost feels autobiographical.

Schroder, now in his early 20s and no longer Rick-y, is still boyish enough to mirror a husband and father who's barely out of boyhood himself when his life takes a tragic turn. His almost-perfect wife (Megan Gallivan) suddenly dies, leaving him classically ill-prepared to cope with a young daughter in primary school grappling with great adjustments of her own.

Schroder's character, a construction worker with few prospects who likes to go bowling with the boys, is in over his head merely making his daughter's peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches or arriving for appointments on time.

But his major struggle is the girl's over-solicitous grandparents ("Dallas's " Linda Gray and Lawrence Pressman) who live in a big cozy house and weave an agenda to bring up the little girl themselves.

The girl (Ashley Malinger) is wisely directed by Kevin Hooks to be not so much cute and sweet as a real troubled little girl painfully missing her mom and quick to hurt everybody around her.

Lending dimension is Gray's elitist grandmother, a snobbish figure chillingly rendered, and Khandi Alexander as another single parent who befriends the fast-maturing Schroder character without, refreshingly, becoming a romantic interest. It's rare enough in movies to find an eligible, not to mention attractively interracial couple who are happy just being platonic buddies.

Choosing not to be saccharine, the movie opts to be tougher than expected.

To My Daughter with Love (1994) TV Movie
Cast: Ashley Malinger, Eric Hull, Joseph Burke, Khandi Alexander, Lawrence Pressman, Linda Gray, Nealla Gordon, Rick Schroder

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