Making the Grades
The Chinese symbol for crisis is made up of two figures: one stands for danger, the other for opportunity. Or so says the Catholic sister from the unwed mother's shelter who first informs John Morgan (Ving Rhames) of his daughter's decision to give her baby up for adoption.
Having had no communication with Natalie (Gloria Reubens) since he learned of her undesirable position, the heartbroken and disappointed parent is offered a new way to look at the situation when the nun suggests he raise the infant, rather than have the child lost from their family forever.
Over the next twelve years a happy and rewarding relationship grows between the grandfather and Little John (Robert Bailey Jr.), although they know nothing of the mother's whereabouts. Then fate, in the form of a newspaper clipping, reveals the estranged woman has become a family court judge in California. At the same time, health problems are beginning to plague the aging caregiver. Fearing his time may be running out, John resolves to find his daughter and introduce her to the son she left behind.
The drive from their Texan ranch to the bustling streets of Los Angeles is not with out difficulties, but these prove less daunting than trying to arranging a meeting with the judicial official who is determined to keep her troubled past under lock and key.
Pride and accusations block the road to reconciliation and forgiveness in this compelling Hallmark: Hall of Fame presentation. While messages of letting go of grudges, and binding old wounds with strong family ties are abundant, Natalie's work and the story touch on some mature issues, such as unwanted pregnancies, abandonment, child abuse, and violence against women, making the movie more appropriate for older audiences. The script also allows the characters to discuss these difficult topics as they chose to face even the most painful disclosures with honesty, instead of hiding them in a vain attempt to protect or hurt one another.
This crisis will require all three family members to put their hearts in danger if they want the opportunity to begin the healing process.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Little John (2002).
In the film, the nun from the unwed mother’s shelter takes it upon herself to tell John about Natalie’s baby, giving the opportunity to adopt the child to the family first. Does she have any right to make this offer without the mother’s permission? What were the positive and the negative effects of her decision? How do you feel about children being adopted by non-relatives?
John pursues every course of action he can in order to reestablish contact with his daughter, telling Little John “if we don’t talk to her—someday we might regret it.” How do you feel about missed opportunities in your life?