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4.3 out of 5 stars19
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on July 12, 2004
While the storyline is a bit weak and seems scrambled, Gena Rowlands and Kevin Zegers (who plays the troubled teen) are superb! They both light up the screen with powerful, moving character acting that is unlike most films today. As the story plays out, the troubled young man has to struggle with anger and resentment towards his abusive parents all the while trying to find his place in this world and meaning of life. After a series of poor choices and getting caught, his school principal gives him the choice of being expelled from school or to pay penance for his actions by helping out Mrs. Ritchie (Gena Rowlands) and her two metally challenged sons. Mrs. Ritchie turns out to be an ailing old woman who hasn't quite got over her husband (who sometimes makes angelic appearances just at the right moments) who previously died.
As the movie moves forward, both characters learn valuable lessons from each other, and Zegers' character learns how to bring his family back together. While the acting is dynamic, the movie would be a complete flop without Zegers and Rowlands. The storyline isn't real solid and often leaves too many open questions. Yet, the film is well worth watching simply for the sake of watching the two great actors give life to dying characters. Truly one of my new favorites but only because of the acting. Worth seeing!
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on November 27, 2015
Gena was amazing. It really shows how a good response to difficulties can make a huge difference on your outlook on life. The Truth could have saved the family a lot of heart ache. The movie really shows how we should respond and the reward is huge.
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on December 24, 2003
This movie is wonderful. Its about a troubled teen with really bad parents who has trouble at school. His principle gets him a job with this old lady called Mrs. Ritchie. If he works for her as her handyman helping her in her garden then he won't get kicked out of school. I won't tell you anymore other than it is very good. Kevin Zegers performance is wonderful and this is a very touching movie. Buy it!!
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on February 23, 2013
This film is a soft, yet inspirational tale, about a troubled boy, whose life is changed when he's forced to work for an elderly woman. Once again this is a tremendous film that was completely ignored, due to not being in the theaters, but it's still one hell of a story. The performances are honestly some of the best I've seen all year and while I don't really go for films like this, it really moved me. Gena Rowlands shows that the longer you've been doing this, the better you get. Kevin Zegers on the other hand shows just the opposite, that you don't have to be a legend to put on a great performance. This story is just so inspiring and unlike many other films, it's very real and believable. Overall, it was somewhat predictable, but in a way that you don't mind so much, because of how it is done. Mrs. Ritchie is fantastic and I'm thrilled that I gave it a shot.
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VINE VOICEon July 13, 2004
This is a fairly common story of a troubled teen coming of age. The problem is, there isn't much for him to come to age to, as there's nothing terribly new or original. In other words, it's a dreaded "retread".
The plotline was weak, and Charlie's (Kevin Zegers) travails with the "bad boys" in the beginning, which were supposed to introduce us to his harsher personality, were silly and unbelievable. Regarding these "bad boys", they looked more like the geeks they were teasing. I wouldn't have been intimidated by any of them in high school, even if I was a Freshman and they were Seniors.
Gena Rowlands saved this film from obscurity, as did Kevin Zegers, though to a lesser extent. He's clearly trying to add depth to his acting career, and that's terrific. There's still some room for him to grow. Gena Rowlands is *always* terrific. Her warmth infected and graced the entire film.
For all it's failings, it was still an emotionally evocative film at times, with one profoundly moving event at the end of the film. And Charlie did experience growth, which helped him put his family back together.
However, that's the biggest problem I had with the film. Without giving anything away, Charlie wasn't the person that needed to put that family back together (regardless of the silly contrivance that was written in to make it seem as such). It was the mother and the father, because both are pretty horrible people on the inside, but all we see is a father played as a typical jerk, and mother played as a typical drunk. Again, nothing fresh or original about their characters.
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on April 4, 2014
she is one of my fave actresses and I have seen this on tv too and I had to have it on DVD. such a heart warming story. gena is wonderful as always.
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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2007
The story's plotline and central concepts are old--what breathes life into this film is the acting.

Charlie (Kevin Zegers) is a teen who's headed for big trouble. His home life is bad, he's running with the wrong crowd, and there's really nobody he can rely on to help him. He's the kid who gets caught by the principal (James Caan) when his friends steal an old woman's purse. Charlie may be many things--but he is not a snitch and he won't tell the principal and his parents (Leslie Hope, David Schofield), who was with him stealing the purse.

Instead of being expelled, the principal offers Charlie the chance to work off his debt with the victim (Gena Rowland). When Charlie goes to her home, he learns she's a widow who believes her late husband James haunts her garden and is raising two mentally challenged boys--one which she's adopted.

Mrs. Ritchie sets Charlie to work in her garden--teaching him about how to grow things and consideration for what he plants in his garden. (what you sow, you shall reap) Through her kindness, he learns to understand his own issues and stand up for himself and his family.

"Mrs Ritchie" is a good film and worth seeing at least once, particularly if you are a strong fan of Gena Rowland. She is luminious in this film--very believable and in my opinion, what makes the film work.
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on June 8, 2009
A heart warming story about how a basically good boy perseveres despite his dysfunctional father and mother until he comes under the influence of a juvenile deliquent, then is redirected by his principal so that he is saved by the kindness of Mrs. Ritchie.
Gena Rowlands as Mrs. Ritchie, Kevin Zegers as Charlie, Cameron Daddo as Charlie's mother, and Darcy Dunlop as Charlie's father give great performances. The two men who play Mrs. Ritchie's "retarded" sons are also amazing. James Caan gives a strong cameo. Justin Chatwin as the troublemaking juvenile delinquent is also very good.
The story hinges on a lie that Charlie told as a child. While the father's problems might be explained by the lie, there must be much more than the lie to explain the mother's problems.
The film shows the damage that can be done by damaged parents. It also highlights the importance of second chances and love.
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on May 14, 2012
This movie is a great movie with a good message that applies to everyone. I would recommend this movie for sure.
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on October 13, 2015
If you love dysfunctional families & lots of tension & fighting this movie is for you.
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