Video Views

“Finding Forrester.” Rated PG-13. I give it a 41/2 on a scale of 5.

The premise is nothing new. A disadvantaged teen is given a chance to rise above his poverty, crime and other negative influences. Usually, the teen is a minority being helped by some white benefactors. Typically, the youth ends up paying a price for the privilege of moving up in the world.

“Finding Forrester” does indeed fit neatly into this one-size-fits-all plot formula. But, thanks to the exceptional talents of veteran actor Sean Connery and newcomer Rob Brown, the Columbia Pictures release brings with it some extra energy.

Brown, literally discovered on the mean streets of New York City, is outstanding as Jamal Wallace, a talented writer on a fast track to nowhere at Brooklyn’s Coolidge High School, where it simply isn’t cool to be intelligent.

His teacher accidentally discovers his high test scores, but it is his basketball ability that really grabs the attention of officials at the upscale Mailor Callow prep school in Manhattan.

Of course, Jamal’s family is thrilled at the opportunity to attend a private high school, but Jamal is not so sure. Does Mailor Callow want him for his brains or his roundball talents?

Connery’s character, William Forrester, enters the picture when Jamal breaks into the old guy’s apartment on a dare from the teen’s pals. The young man is surprised in the act by Forrester, a man referred to in the neighborhood as “the Window” because he watches the local basketball court with binoculars.

A crotchety old recluse, Forrester finds Jamal’s journal in the backpack the youngster leaves behind during the foiled heist. He makes notes about the writing before throwing the pack out the window to Jamal.

The teen is intrigued by the old man, who seems to have a vast storehouse of linguistic knowledge. The two become friends of sorts, Jamal’s writing skills growing under the tutelage of the man he soon discovers is a famous author who went into seclusion following the publishing of his first book.

Coincidently, Jamal is studying Forrester’s book at his new school. His teacher, Professor Crawford, is a novelist wannabe and acquaintance of Forrester, who doesn’t think too highly of the instructor.

Because Jamal is black and from a poor background, Crawford is having a hard time believing the young man is capable of such strong writing. And, so, the plot thickens.

It’s really not as complicated as it all sounds. In fact, the plot is quite easy to follow. Eventually, basketball, literature and old rivalries come together into a solid problem to be solved.

The PG-13 rating is the result of some fairly coarse language that parents of young teens should take into consideration.

But the movie contains no sex or violence to speak of.

The soundtrack features everything from rap to jazz to a haunting rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” accompanied by a ukulele.

I’m not sure how well “Finding Forrester” fared at the box office. But I considered it more than worth my while. If you have the equipment to play it on, I recommend the DVD version of the film. It contains some extra music and interviews with the main characters as well as the story of the discovery of Rob Brown. He certainly turned out to be a fortunate find.

Bob Wade is a local video enthusiast. The videos he reviews come courtesy of Radio Shack/Quick Flick, 110 N. Main, Hillsboro.

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