The Brooke Ellison Story parents guide

The Brooke Ellison Story Parent Guide

Based on a true story, this made-for-TV movie gives the viewer a glimpse into the world of disabilities.

Overall A

Based on a true story, this movie chronicles ten years in the life of Brooke Ellison (Vanessa Marano/ Lacey Chabert), who suffered a spinal cord injury as a child that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Rising above her disability, she pursues her dreams of a university education. This made-for-TV movie was the last project undertaken by actor/ director Christopher Reeve (who was also left in a quadriplegic state after a devastating accident).

Release date October 25, 2004

Violence B
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B
Substance Use A-

Why is The Brooke Ellison Story rated PG? The MPAA rated The Brooke Ellison Story PG for thematic elements and language

Run Time: 120 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Everybody has dreams. For eleven-year-old Brooke Ellison (Vanessa Marano), they are about dancing, starting junior high school, and impressing the boy assigned to a neighboring locker. Then, her life changes suddenly, making impossible the reality of even these simple, commonplace aspirations.

Walking home one fateful day, the young girl is hit by a car, leaving her tiny body broken and bleeding. Utterly helpless, her parents, Jean (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and Ed (John Slattery), listen as the doctor renders his diagnosis and prognosis: a broken arm, a battered skull, a comatose state with no sign of brain activity, a good chance of being paralyzed from the neck down, a better chance of never regaining consciousness.

Faced with this heartbreaking news, the Ellison family refuses to give up hope. Yet, the first flicker of their daughter’s eyelids only signals the beginning of a life-long struggle. Besides coming to terms with her quadriplegic state, they are also faced with further risky surgeries, mounting medical expenses and responsibilities to their other children. However, the greatest problem proves to be their vision of Brooke’s future, which differs greatly from that of her healthcare providers.

Determined to give their middle child every opportunity to reach her potential, Mr. and Mrs. Ellison start by fighting to bring her home. Dividing to conquer, Jean learns the skills needed to perform the numerous procedures her daughter requires daily, while Ed renovates the house until it is wheelchair-accessible and battles the bureaucracy of insurance claims. In the meantime, Brooke optimistically prepares to resume her academic studies. It’s an uphill road potholed with countless obstacles, but love, sacrifice, and some unexpected support help to pave the way.

Based on a true story, this made-for-TV movie gives the viewer a glimpse into the world of disabilities. With only a few profanities, one instance of mild sexual innuendo, and mention of menopause, it covers a ten-year period (Lacey Chabert plays the older Brooke), showing how ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.

The production is remarkable on another level too, because of its director—Christopher Reeve. Best know as the “Superman” who once convinced audiences a man could fly, the former actor was himself the victim of a spinal cord injury. Through this project, which turned out to be his last (he unexpectedly passed away in October of 2004), he proves nothing soars so high as the tenacity of the human spirit. Inspired by the likes of Chris and Brooke, that’s a dream we can all believe in.

Directed by Christopher Reeve. Starring Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, John Slattery, Lacey Chabert. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release October 25, 2004. Updated

The Brooke Ellison Story Parents' Guide

Brooke and Jean Ellison published their story in a book called, Miracles Happen. To find out more about them and what they are doing now, visit Brooke’s home page at:

Actor / director Christopher Reeve worked tirelessly as an advocate for spinal cord injury treatment and research (including the controversial practice of stem-cell research). He also established The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
At his death, CNN published this biography:

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The Brooke Ellison Story movie is May 23, 2005. Here are some details…

Included on the DVD release of The Brooke Ellison Story is a lengthy interview with the real-life Brooke and her mother Jean. They share insights into the making of the film, pay tribute to Christopher Reeve, and talk about their future, as well as the state of paralysis research. Hearing them discuss these topics adds more reality to this touching story. Audio is available in English only (Stereo), along with English subtitles.

Related home video titles:

A family fights to find a treatment for their only child when he is diagnosed with a rare and fatal illness in the movie Lorenzo’s Oil — also based on a true story. Christopher Reeve dons a comic book hero’s costume in the 1978 blockbuster Superman.

Related news about The Brooke Ellison Story

Great Mother’s Day Movies - Part 1

Great Mother’s Day Movies - Part 1