My Louisiana Sky (2001)

Who knew Juliette Lewis had a club called dignity in her bag?


What would you do if both your parents were retarded and your grandma died? Would you go to Baton Rouge to live with your sophisticated aunt or stay on the farm with the 'tards? My Louisiana Sky attempts to answer those questions in a very thoughtful manner, and won a bushel of top-tier television awards (Daytime Emmys, Directors Guild of America, etc.) for its efforts. Ostensibly a children's film, this is one of those rare TV movies (it aired on Showtime) that features red meat for the whole family, owing largely to well-developed characters, lovely Southern cinematography and smartly restrained direction from Alan Arkin's less-talented son, Adam.

In any good children's film, you need solid performances from the kids, and Kelsey Keel and Michael Cera (George Michael from Arrested Development) deliver here. This movie also stars Juliette Lewis. But unlike in The Other Sister, she's not playing a 'tard. That performance represented Lewis' first break from the truck-stop slut milieu, and this role -- she plays the glamorous older sister who left town for the "big city" of Baton Rouge -- is her second. Who knew Lewis had a club called dignity in her bag? Makes you wonder how many actors like her get typecast so that you never see the depth of their talents.

The most amazing performance in Louisiana Sky, however, is delivered by Chris Owens, as Keel's retarded father who saves the town's main crop from a hurricane thanks to his ability to connect with nature. Unlike Lewis, Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Penn and Tom Hanks, Owens brings not a smidge of showiness to his 'tardtrayal, making this the best 'tardformance since Cliff Robertson's Oscar-winning turn in Charly.

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.

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