Regular readers will probably know that I am a sucker for true story movies. I don’t know exactly why that is by there is something that I really liked about the genre. Today I am looking at Gracie’s Choice which was inspired by a true story featured in a Reader’s Digest article. Gracie’s Choice was a TV movie which originally aired on Lifetime back in 2004. I have to admit that I am usually not a big fan of TV movies. This is mostly because they have small budgets which leads to movies that are usually really cheesy/sappy and just not all that interesting. Movies on networks like Lifetime or Hallmark in particular are not known for being very good as they crank out so many movies to create cheap content for their network. Normally I wouldn’t give a movie like Gracie’s Choice much of a chance as I would just assume that it was a generic Lifetime movie. I ended up giving the movie a chance though due to the premise actually sounding pretty interesting and the fact that the movie actually features some well known actors. Gracie’s Choice suffers from some of the issues of your typical TV movie but succeeds despite them due to a heartwarming story of overcoming the odds.
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Gracie’s Choice used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
Gracie’s Choice tells the story of Gracie Thompson. Despite only being a teenager Gracie has had a hard life. Gracie’s father is a deadbeat and her mother is a drug addict. Gracie is joined by her four younger half siblings. As her mother is too busy dealing with her own issues Gracie is forced to take care of her younger siblings. When her mother’s drug issues and other problems begin to spiral out of control Gracie decides that something has to change. She decides to take over to make sure her younger siblings have a stable enough home where they can finally succeed. All while attending high school herself she tries to give her siblings the mother that they have never really had.
Before watching Gracie’s Choice I was a little skeptical because I am generally not a big fan of TV movies. I have to say that I was genuinely surprised by Gracie’s Choice though. The movie still suffers from a lot of the same issues as most TV movies, but I was still impressed by it. I would say that Gracie’s Choice is a story about overcoming adversity. Gracie had a hard life which wasn’t getting any better as her mother started her downward spiral into drug addiction. Instead of just accepting that fate she decided to change things to improve both her own life and the lives of her younger siblings. This can be a little sappy at times (it was a Lifetime movie after all) but it is also surprisingly inspirational and heartwarming. I found the plot to be enjoyable as you will root for Gracie to turn her own life and the lives of her siblings around. The movie won’t be for everyone, but people who generally like these type of movies should really enjoy Gracie’s Choice.
One of the reasons a lot of people quickly dismiss TV movies is that they are usually not known for their acting. TV movies will occasionally have good acting but they are usually more known for average to bad acting. I would say that the acting in Gracie’s Choice is considerably better than I was expecting and is actually quite good for a TV movie. Some of the actors could have been better but for the most part the acting is good. Anne Heche does a great job in the role of Gracie’s mother who is a drug addict among other issues. As a matter of fact she was nominated for an Emmy for the performance. I also think Kristen Bell did really well especially since it was probably one of her first major roles as most of her previous credits were minor roles. As a matter of fact Gracie’s Choice came out the same year that Kristen Bell made a name for herself in the TV show Veronica Mars. I am usually leery of TV movies because the acting is usually pretty bad. Thankfully Gracie’s Choice avoids this for the most part.
In a lot of ways Gracie’s Choice defies the Lifetime TV movie stereotype by actually being a well made movie that many people should enjoy. At times though you can still tell that it was a TV movie. The movie shows its budget at times even though a large budget isn’t needed to tell this type of story. Mostly the movie falls into occasional sappy moments that many TV movies are known for. The plot for the most part is quite good as it tells a good story that you will want to follow until its conclusion. The problem is that there are the occasional moments where the movie stumbles. One sideplot in particular involves Gracie’s boyfriend which is pretty well developed throughout most of the movie. Then towards the end of the movie that is all thrown away by a random twist that makes little sense based on what transpired throughout the rest of the subplot. This is one of a couple moments where the plot meanders and brings down the movie.
These moments lead to a plot that is inconsistent at times. When the plot is at its best the story is quite engaging where you want to see what will happen next. Then there are those moments that temporarily derail the plot. These moments lead to some slow points where the movie kind of drags. The movie is not overly long as it is only an hour and 31 minutes long. The movie uses its runtime well most of the time, but I think there could have been some slight tweaks to the movie. In particular I think the movie starts a little slower than it should have. I personally think the movie spends a little too much time on how bad the situation is for Gracie and her siblings. This is a key part to telling the story as it wouldn’t be the same without this background information. The problem is with so much time spent showing how bad the situation is not enough time is spent on Gracie’s efforts to try to make the situation better. The movie seems to kind of rush through this part of the movie which is a disappointment as I think it is the movie’s strength. I wouldn’t drastically change the movie but I think ten or so minutes of the movie should have been shifted from how bad their situation was to how Gracie made it better.
For this review I ended up watching the 2020 Mill Creek Entertainment release of the movie. As far as I could tell Gracie’s Choice appears to have only been released on DVD one other time back in 2005. For the most part the 2020 DVD release is basically what you would expect from a sixteen year old TV movie being re-released on DVD. The DVD is fullscreen which is to be expected as that is how the movie was likely shot for television. The video quality is also what you would expect. The DVD does not feature any special features. This is not particularly surprising as you can’t really expect special features to have been shot for an older TV movie.
TV movies don’t always have the greatest reputations. While I thought the premise behind Gracie’s Choice seemed interesting I was concerned that it would fall into the same traps as many TV movies. After watching it though I was genuinely surprised as the movie was better than I was expecting. Gracie’s Choice is basically about a teenage girl that has to take after her younger siblings after her drug addict mother is making all of their lives worse. The story is not going to be for everyone, but I found it to be engaging and inspirational. People who generally like overcoming the odds movies will probably really enjoy the plot. The acting especially Anne Heche and Kristen Bell is also quite good. The movie avoids a lot of the problems of your typical TV movie but it still falls into some of the same traps. The plot is good for the most part but it falls into the occasional stupid plot point that distracts from the rest of the story. I also thought the story could be a little slow at times and probably could have spent more time with Gracie trying to improve hers and her siblings’ lives.
I enjoyed Gracie’s Choice and was pleasantly surprised by it. As I was debating the final rating to give the movie I was genuinely conflicted between three and three and a half stars. I ultimately stuck with three stars but it was quite close to getting three and a half stars. If the movie’s premise doesn’t sound all that interesting to you it probably won’t be for you. People who think the plot sounds interesting though will probably really enjoy Gracie’s Choice and should consider picking it up.
Buy Gracie’s Choice online: Amazon