A Father's Choice (2000) Peter Strauss, Mary McDonnell, Michelle Trachtenberg, Yvonne Zima, Susan Hogan Movie Review

A Father's Choice (2000)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Peter Strauss in A Father's Choice (2000)

It's Father Time

Despite no longer being a young man, Charlie 'Mac' McClain (Peter Strauss - Joan of Arc) had decided to return to the rodeo circuit. But his decision couldn't have come at a worse time as his former wife is murdered and he finds himself having to look after his estranged daughters, Kelly (Michelle Trachtenberg - Inspector Gadget) and Chris (Yvonne Zima - Chasing Secrets), who has been left traumatised as she witnessed her mother's death. Not only is being a father completely alien to Charlie but Kelly doesn't want to live with him in a bunk house where he has no TV or phone. With the police keeping an eye on the girls in case the killer comes after them and with the three of them having to visit Susan Shaw (Mary McDonnell - Replacing Dad), a child therapist, things are difficult to say the least . And it doesn't get any easier as Charlie's former sister-in-law, Gayle (Susan Hogan), wants custody of the girls.

So "A Father's Choice" features a drama about two sisters raised in the city forced to stay with their estranged cowboy father on the ranch where he works; not only does that sound incredibly cliche but it is in fact two cliches as we have the estranged father having to deal with sudden parenthood but we also have 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 then leads to a custody battle but the real focus of this made for TV movie is those familiar elements. As such I am sure there will be those who see "A Father's Choice" as a cheesy movie which is just cliche 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 touch of romance.

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

So whilst "A Father's Choice" is based on a true story it does focus on the cliches of an estranged father having to look after daughters combined with a ranch location. Now instead of the going for the comedy of a fish out of water father haphazardly dealing with parenting issues, which tends to dominate these types of movies, this is more drama orientated as Kelly and Charlie argue whilst Chris is struggling to grieve and remember what she saw the night her mother was killed. Yes it is cliche, of course we watch them bond as the girls not only learn the truth about their father and how much he loves them but they get to do some ranch jobs, including helping deliver a foal. Oh and just for good measure, and to make the best use of some low sun and barn framing, we have a touch of romance as Charlie and Susan become close. This all may have been built on a true story but "A Father's Choice" comes across as a typically charming, heart-warming family 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 reasonable pace. Plus the acting is nice with Peter Strauss certainly looking at home as a cowboy whilst Mary McDonnell has this soft radiance going on which makes those romantic moments picture perfect. Then there is a young Yvonne Zima and Michelle Trachtenberg as Chris and Kelly with Trachtenberg bringing 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 should be entertaining.

Tags: Instant Families