A Father's Choice (2000)

Peter Strauss in A Father's Choice (2000)

It's Father Time

Two daughters from the city are forced to go live with their estranged cowboy father on the ranch where he works; not only does that sound incredibly cliche but it is also two cliches I like with the estranged father having to deal with sudden parenthood combined with a beautiful ranch setting. There is more to "A Father's Choice" than that as it is based on a true story and starts with the murder of their mother which leads to a custody battle with the girl's aunt but the real focus is on those familiar elements. As such I am sure there will be those who see "A Father's Choice" as a cheesy movie which melds these two familiar cliches but for me it is a gentle, heart-warming ranch drama with some beautiful scenery and nice use of soft lighting to give it a romantic feel.

Despite being a young man's game Charlie 'Mac' McClain (Peter Strauss) decides to return to the rodeo but his decision couldn't have come at a worse time as his former wife is murdered and he finds himself being given temporary custody of this estranged daughters, Kelly (Michelle Trachtenberg - Inspector Gadget) and Chris (Yvonne Zima) who is traumatised as she witnessed the murder. Not only is being a father alien to Charlie but Kelly doesn't want to live with him in the bunk house where he has no TV or phone. With the police keeping an eye on them in case the killer shows up and with the three of them having to visit Susan Shaw (Mary McDonnell - Behind the Mask) a child therapist things are extremely difficult and made all the more so by his former sister-in-law Gayle who wants custody of the girls.

Yvonne Zima and Michelle Trachtenberg in A Father's Choice (2000)

So whilst "A Father's Choice" is based on a true story and starts with a murder the main bulk of the movie is the combination of two familiar TV movie cliches, those of estranged father having to look after daughters combined with a ranch location. Now instead of the comedy style of father daughter haphazard bonding which tends to dominate this sort of story we have more drama as Kelly and Charlie row whilst Chris is struggling to grieve and remember what happened that night. It is cliche as we watch them bond as the girls not only learn the truth about their father and how much he loves them but of course they get to do some ranch jobs which includes helping deliver a foal. Oh and just for good measure and to make the best light of some low sun and barn framing we have a touch of romance as Charlie and Susan grow close. This all may have been built on a true story but it comes across as a typically charming, heart-warming drama.

And to be honest there isn't too much more to it than that as director Christopher Cain not only does a nice job of framing some beautiful scenes but he also keeps the drama moving and evolving at a pleasant pace. Plus the acting is alright with Peter Strauss certainly looking at home as a cowboy whilst Mary McDonnell has this soft radiance and warmth going on which makes those romantic moments charming. Then there is a young Yvonne Zima and Michelle Trachtenberg as Chris and Kelly with Trachtenberg bring attitude to the role as the daughter who resents her father and living in his tiny shack on a ranch.

What this all boils down to is that "A Father's Choice" is not for everyone but for those who enjoy TV movies which are set on a ranch or feature an adult having to suddenly deal with children it will be entertaining.

Tags: Instant Families