On DVD 1/20
Hallmark Channel Original
Even though his grown son reminds the seventy-seven year old Charlie Baker (Happy Days star Tom Bosley) that he's "not well enough to drive," as he backs out of the driveway with determination, Charlie replies that unlike his son, he's "well enough to be counted on."
Counted on, that is by his best friend and twelve-year-old precocious granddaughter Casey (Spiderwick Chronicles star Jordy Benattar) who had saved his life shortly after the film began when Charlie suffered a heart attack during an ordinary trip to the movies.
Sharing a bond that both baffles and angers his envious son Jeffrey (James Gallanders)-- a workaholic who buries himself in business trips and constant cell phone chatter, perhaps trying to dull the pain of being reminded of his deceased wife he sees whenever he looks his daughter in the eyes, this superlative made-for-Hallmark television film celebrates the life-affirming link between supportive relatives and the way that friendship can span everything from generations to poor health.
Releasing onto DVD in a few days from Genius Entertainment-- although at times, Charlie and Me's dialogue from screenwriter Karen Lagasse Struck feels a bit dated as a twelve year old boy Casey crushes on calls her "half pint" (a phrase I've never heard a kid use in two decades), it's easily forgiven. This is especially the case given the undeniable charm and inventiveness of the script that finds Casey making grown-up decisions with humor and intellect in trying to determine Charlie's best medical options and likewise since the two have an irresistible friendship filled with the arts as he schools her in on old movies and jazz albums, and she keeps him young by stringing clear Christmas lights attached to a bell from her room to his in order to stay in touch and ensure he's all right.
A sweet story that in its own subtle way illustrates a growing trend in busy contemporary families of grandparents sometimes taking on parental duties and brainy girls such as Casey finding solace and friendship in a much different circle than the cool middle school cliques, Charlie and Me is also bolstered by its likable performances including its breakout portrayal by young Benattar who received a 2008 Gemini Award nomination as Best Actress for her performance.
Note: Be sure to click on the Special Features for an epilogue that catches viewers up with Casey twelve years after the events of the film.