Yet again we have a film with a lovely, life-affirming, uplifting message — unfortunately delivered in such a heavy-handed, gooey-sweet manner that audiences will exit the theater in a near-diabetic coma.
Based on the inspiring true-life story of Debbie and Ron Hall and their relationship with a homeless man named Denver Moore — told Ron Hall and Moore’s bestseller of the same title — “Same Kind of Different as Me” features several of our most talented actors working today. Renee Zellweger is cast as Debbie and Greg Kinnear plays Ron, with the always intriguing-to-watch Djimon Hounsou as Denver.
Early on, we learn the very self-absorbed Hall is far more interested in his highly-lucrative business as a Texas-based international art dealer than he is in his 19-year marriage to his sweet and loyal wife. Adding a mystical note to the story, Debbie is plagued by a recurring dream in which a mysterious, African-American man constantly appears. When Debbie learns Ron has been having an affair, she is understandably devastated, but is determined to save their troubled relationship.
When she insists that her husband join her and volunteer at the inner-city homeless shelter where she has been donating her time, Ron’s initial response is “I’ll write them a big check.” Debbie won’t accept that — leading to the couple both working the food line, cleaning up and generally helping out with hands-on service at the shelter. In the process they encounter the very angry, often physically violent Denver Moore.
Mirroring the book, the three main characters develop a relationship that changes all of them forever.
It’s a good message, to be sure, but unfortunately, it’s all done in a predictable, clunky way. The dialogue is stilted and trite and the acting frequently borders on the melodramatic. The hard press to turn this into the expected tear-jerker of a movie is just too hard to take.
In short: Love the themes, am disappointed in how they are packaged in this film.
Paramount Pictures and Pure Flix present a film directed by Michael Carney and written by Carney, Alexander Foard and Ron Hall. Rated PG-13 (for thematic elements including some violence and language). Running time: 119 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.