Have a Little Faith

I had the privilege of attending the VIP premiere of Have a Little Faith this past Wednesday at Emagine Royal Oak, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the film, which was made for TV. I have not read the novel, although I now own an autographed copy (all attendees received one), and I've read some of Mitch Albom's other books such as Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The movie ended up being a pleasant surprise, and I highly recommend seeing it on ABC when it airs nationwide on November 27th.

There are two parallel stories going on in the movie. In the first, Mitch Albom (Bradley Whitford, TV's The West Wing) returns to his hometown in New Jersey to help his former rabbi (Martin Landau, Mysteria) who has asked Mitch to write his eulogy, even though he is not sick or dying. Mitch is Jewish but hasn't been to synagogue/been religious for quite some time, yet his rabbi greets him with open arms, sing-talking "Hel-lo, Mitch-chell," to him every time they meet. Mitch and Rabbi Lewis become close again, and he finds himself flying out to New Jersey frequently.

In the second story, which will intersect with Mitch's life about halfway into the movie, Henry Covington (Laurence Fishburne, TV's CSI) is dealing drugs in Brooklyn, New York. His life didn't start off that way, but he needs money, and soon he is not only dealing, but using as well. He marries his sweetheart Annette (Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in The Princess and the Frog), but his lifestyle begins to hurt her as well as himself. He decides to get clean and eventually moves to Detroit, where he becomes pastor of a church, and where Albom eventually is introduced to him.

Laurence Fishburne plays himself from age 28 to 45, and it's definitely a hoot to see him wearing an afro in the '70s and '80s scenes. His son, newcomer Langston Fishburne, plays the character in his early 20s. Fishburne and Landau are by far the stars of this film, although Whitford does a fine job playing Albom, and they make themselves endearing even though their characters are so different from each other (Fishburne's character, as a former druggie, and Landau, as a revered rabbi). Fishburne, Landau, Whitford, Rose, and Albom were all in attendance at the premiere, and they did a "Talk Back" after the screening in which they talked about the roles they played, and how they liked filming in Detroit, which was interesting to hear.

So should you tune in to ABC on November 27th? Yes. You could tell it was a "made for TV" movie - it had abrupt cuts in it, for one - but I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. The acting is superb - you've got "top of the line," veteran actors in this movie - and I really liked seeing all the places in Detroit that they filmed at, including Comerica Park, Ford Field, and the actual church where Albom met the pastor. There was one character named Cass, too, who played himself in the movie, and you could tell he almost wasn't acting, by the emotion he emitted when talking about the pastor and how he gave him a home when he was homeless. The themes in the movie are universal, too, and anyone would do well in seeing it when it's on TV on the 27th.

Have a Little Faith will be televised on ABC, at 9pm EST on November 27th, and is a Hallmark Hall of Fame production.

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