Making the Grades
Skylark is the sequel to Sarah, Plain And Tall. Both films were produced for television and partially financed by the Hallmark Card Company. The first installment was a wonderful, albeit sentimental story. But Skylark, although a film suitable for all ages, has a few flaws within the story.
Two years have passed since the first film, and Kansas in the early 1900's is looking dry and miserable. A drought has hit the area, and the Witting family vow to keep their farm, even as they watch all of their friends and neighbours abandon their land. Sarah finally takes the children with her, as she returns home to Maine to leave Jacob to keep the place together. Finally, the rain comes, and things start to look better.
If the story sounds too simple to be real, you may be right. Although written by the author of the original Sarah, Plain And Tall, it seems that Patricia MacLachlan may never have set foot on a farm. Just one example is the end of the film. Jacob stays at the farm while Sarah is in Maine. He waits, twiddling his thumbs, for the rain to come. Finally it does, and he leaves to get Sarah.
The viewer is under the impression that she has been gone most of the summer, and the leaves in Maine are turning orange. But when they get home, a happy neighbour who has offered assistance, announces that everything is wonderful, and there is even wheat in the field. Perhaps they don't have winter in Kansas.
Skylark, which certainly offers good entertainment, is a wonderful family film. However, writers need to realize a family film doesn't always require a picture book ending. It just needs to be a quality story without the sex, violence, and language found in other movies. Adult and serious themes can be presented in this format, it just takes a bit more creativity, and maybe that's where the problem is.