Family Tree [2001]

Awkward and insecure, 10-year-old Mitch Musser (Andy Lawrence) has but one true friend, a centuries-old oak tree that is strong, tall, and unwavering. Mitch finds solace among the tree's sturdy branches when the rest of his life matches his nickname--Mess. On the football field, Mitch is mocked by teammates; at home he is ignored by a father with impossibly high expectations. Mitch's father, Henry, has his own share of problems. As a commercial developer, he has successfully won a contract to bring a new factory to the ailing rural town. The business will provide much-needed jobs, but will also require the bulldozing of Old Oak, his son's beloved tree. With the help of Larry, a kindly older gentleman (Cliff Robertson), Mitch takes a courageous stand to save Old Oak and, in the process, must face off with business owners, townspeople, and his own father. With an impressive ensemble cast, this family flick brims with warmth, worthy role models, and an inspiring message. Also noteworthy is its soundtrack of country ballads sung by LeAnn Rimes, The Judds, Jo Dee Messina, and others. No matter the film's few formulaic moments and a somewhat predictable ending, entertainment that is engaging and appropriate for ages 5 and older, sans profanity or sexual innuendo, is always appreciated. --Lynn Gibson

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