This feature film made for National Adoption Day is a dramatic work that shows that some people just belong together. Writer and Director Nick Westfall makes a strong case for finding the right child to adopt. The film opens with a teacher standing in front of his class of middle school students, and he asks them what’s worth fighting for? Then he asks them a thought-provoking question: “What are we all living for if there’s nothing worth dying for?”
The teacher’s name is Courtland, and he argues with a school official over the way he approaches his class, and it’s obvious he has strong principles that he adheres to. He meets with a lady friend, Sophie, who asks him, “How’s the divorce going?” She also asks him if he’s started dating yet. He’s a day late in meeting his nephew to spend time with him while the nephew waits on a family to adopt him. “Show up” is the advice the lady gives Courtland.
It certainly is not smooth sailing when Courtland first meets Oskar. Of course, before meeting him, Courtland’s attitude was meeting Oskar would mean no more to him than meeting a random kid on the street. When both Sophie and Courtland extend a hand of greeting to Oskar, he doesn’t respond. “That went well,” Courtland remarks to Sophie. But Courtland does note that Oskar has been reading an Aquaman comic book.
Oskar slides down a slide and climbs high on a tree branch. In fact, it’s so high that he can’t safely get down without Courtland catching him as he jumps. A bit later he takes a moment to thank Courtland for helping him. Oskar’s had health issues and uses an inhaler for his asthma and takes pain killers for carpal tunnel.
The boy is smart as a whip. He shares a statistic with Courtland that medicine is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Courtland has a hard time believing it until Oskar explains, ”The U.S. makes up just 5% of the world’s population, but uses 50% of the medicine” (in the world). Courtland buys Oskar several comic books and slowly he and Oskar begin to connect and to forge a relationship. Courtland becomes his guardian, with the task of finding Oskar a home.
One of the things the movie does a good job in is in establishing the fact that relationships can take time to grow. Courtland says Oskar is like an encyclopedia with his knowledge on various subjects, and then Courtland shares one of his own pieces of trivia: there’s zero percent protein in olives! It’s the kind of thing that continues to bind the two together.
Courtland is going to present Oskar to various families as potential adoptive parents, but the two agree that they will always show up a day early to see how the prospective families really live. And they agree that if either of them feels uncomfortable with the family, the word “Mercury” will be a code word for leaving early!
Oskar hates phonies and gives an example: He doesn’t like prospective moms or dads saying, “Oh, isn’t he cute?” The film features several moments of humor, including a scene in which Courtland asks Oskar, “Do you know what you want?” “Ice cream,” replies Oskar. “No, do you know what kind of family you want?” asks Courtland. “One with ice cream,” Oskar replies. Oskar continues to battle his insecurities, asking Courtland at one point, “Do you think I’m a mistake?” Courtland assures him that he isn’t. “Do you think my mother wanted to have me?” Oskar asks. Courtland replies that life is about choices. “A lot of them are made for us,” he says. “It’s the ones we can make for ourselves that keeps life interesting. Nobody gets to choose their family,” he adds, “but you do.”
As Courtland and Oskar meet several families, Oskar gives a rating for each one, with the number five being excellent and one being very poor. The first few he rates at two out of five. He later rates a family as three out of five. In one family, their only child had died, and when the mother acknowledges this, she has to leave the room, crying. Oskar and Courtland deal with some awkward and sad moments. The husband, Jim, gives Oskar a small coin with an inscription on it that reads, “This too shall pass.” He tells him that when something happens in life, to think about that before judging if it is good or bad.
In another humorous scene, Oskar comments to Courtland that he has 27 and a half Aquaman comics. “How can you have a half one?” Courtland asks. “One of them is a Suicide Squad comic,” says Oskar, “and Aquaman is only in half of it.”
Courtland and Oskar deal with some unusual homes, including one in which a lady lives by herself and owns a water pipe and meditates. “Our minds are all that we have,” she says, “and all that we can give others.” The film does eventually lead to a conclusion for Oskar and with him making peace regarding his mother, who had to give him up due to drug use. It should be noted that both Cullen Moss as Courtland and Abel Zukerman as Oskar give very fine performances in their roles.
Due to the important theme of adoption, and the good that Courtland does for Oskar, this film has procured our Dove seal for Ages 12+.
THE DOVE TAKE
This movie features a nice theme about the importance of adoption and does so with a fine story and solid acting.