Hoovey, rated PG
Seeing this film last night was unlike any movie experience I’ve ever had – and I see a lot of movies! First of all, the story is about a local family. I don’t know them, but some of my team members do, and have gone to church with them in the past. Second, the world premiere of the film was held January 31 in the historic Normal Theater in “Uptown Normal” http://www.normaltheater.com/. Third, the family was present at the theater visiting with the packed crowd before the film and then speaking afterwards, including taking questions from the audience. And fourth, you could purchase the DVD of the movie after the showing. Last night’s showing (ticket and DVD sales) benefited Parkside Junior High School, located across the street from our home. It was quite a festive atmosphere at the Normal Theater. So what about the actual movie?
The film is directed by Sean McNamara, who you may remember best as being the director of the 2011 film Soul Surfer, and is based on Jeff Elliot’s book Rebounding from Death’s Door. The film was shot over a period of just twenty days with an estimated budget of $2 million. In comparison, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies had an estimated budget of $250 million!
Hoovey is Eric Elliot (he got the nickname as a toddler when he got his hand stuck inside a Hoover vacuum cleaner). He is played by Cody Linley from the Hannah Montana television series. He has a great life with his sister Jennifer, played by Alyson Stoner, and dad Jeff, played by Patrick Warburton, who many will remember as Elaine’s boyfriend David Puddy on Seinfeld and the television series Rules of Engagement, and mom Ruth, played by Lauren Holly from NCIS. They live on a farm and Hoovey loves playing basketball at nearby Olympia High School where Charles Robinson from Night Court portrays his coach, Coach Wilson. Brandon Smith portrays Donovan, the new talented player on the team.
Life changes for the Elliot family when Hoovey starts having headaches and blurred/double vision. It’s eventually determined that he has a brain tumor. The film follows Hoovey and his family through that trial and the resulting financial impact the medical bills have on them. Glenn Morshower (24 and The West Wing) portrays his likeable neurosurgeon Dr. Kattner. At times the Elliots question why these hardships have come their way. Through it all, their faith remains strong and central to their story. The film also shows a strong commitment to family.
Like any film, this one takes some creative license. So the film you see will not be exactly as Jeff Elliot’s book portrays Hoovey’s story. For locals, it was fun seeing the local hospital, water tower and Jeff’s Normal Fire Department portrayed. Each of the Elliot family members appear in the film as extras. The film was shot in Texas, and the house used to depict the Elliot’s Shirley, Illinois home is the same farmhouse that was featured in the 1984 Oscar winning film Places in the Heart, starring Sally Field.
This inspirational film will be an excellent one for church youth groups or families to watch together.