The Tough and The Touching
Having over heard her daughter being disrespectful about another girl at her school Jo Ann (Lynda Mason Green) takes her on a trip to the run down shack in the woods where she grew up. It wasn't the nicest of childhoods thanks to her Grandfather Hank (Ron White) who tried to dump her in he woods when she was just a baby. As she grew up under the tyrannical control of Hank young Jo Ann (Yvonne Zima & Madeline Zima) found solace having become friends with the elderly Too Tall (Ossie Davis) and Honey (Della Reese - Emma's Wish), a couple of African Americans who care for her like she was her own, teaching her right and wrong and giving her the love she doesn't get at home.
This may sound like a cop out but "Chasing Secrets" is one of those movies that you should watch rather than read about because it is a rich, touching and charming drama which communicates with your soul. What I will say is that this drama is a mix of the tough and the touching as we watch Jo Ann grow up in a home where at the age of 14 her Grandfather expects her to earn her keep by becoming a prostitute like her mother. But then we also see the caring side as Honey and Too Tall take care of her, teach her to read, write, cook and know what is right and wrong. And it is full of episodes of "hurt & hugs" as we watch something bad followed by something good.
But all of this is built up through some great writing as you know with Too Tall & Honey caring for Jo Ann will eventually lead to trouble when her Grandfather learns what is going on. And that writing rings so true with great incite; there is a scene where Jo Ann calls Honey a N...., not out of malice but out of hearing her brother use the word and we see how it hurts Honey. But then we hear Honey's wonderful explanation to Jo Ann when she says that calling her a N.... is just like when someone insulted Jo Ann's brother by calling him White Trash. That scene speaks volumes and is so wise that I swear every child should be shown this movie just for that scene alone.
The crowning glory of this is the acting and "Chasing Secrets" is packed full of great performances. Both Yvonne Zima and Madeline Zima who play the child versions of Jo Ann are so natural that she is captivating in her vulnerability but then Ron White as her evil Grandfather is just as captivating for being so evil. But of course the crowning glory is Ossie Davis as Too Tall and Della Reese as Honey who together create the warmest couple of people you will ever meet, but not just warm, wise as well. They are such rich characters in depth that you end up hanging on to every word they say.
What this all boils down to is that "Chasing Secrets" which is sometimes known as "The Secret Path" is one of those movies which you should watch rather than read about. It is a beautifully crafted, cleverly written and brilliantly acted drama which touches you and makes you think.