A Review of Raising Izzie
Summary of the Movie
Fourteen-year-old Gertie has been left alone to care for her little sister, Izzie, following their mother's death due from cancer. She pays the bills, signs notes sent home from school, and evades questions from people in authority about where her mother is and why she hasn't attended parent-teacher conferences or contacted her school in nearly a year.
They do just fine until a tragedy strikes and they lose their home. Gertie must find a way to take care of her sister while managing a household, attending school, and balancing a budget. The hardest part is making sure that the adults in their life don't find out that they're living on their own and step in to "help." After all, Gertie is doing a fine job of Raising Izzie and she doesn't need help from the authorities, who may separate the girls into different foster homes.
With nowhere to go, Gertie and Izzie are trapped and everything changes. Will they find faith in family, or will it all fall to pieces? Raising Izzie is a feel-good story about finding family, faith, and love.
- Title: Raising Izzie
- Rating: NR
- Actors: Rockmond Dundbar, Vanessa Williams, Victoria Elizabeth Staley, Kayla Kennedy
- Director: Roger M. Bobb
- Studio: Image Entertainment
- Formats: DVD, Amazon Digital
- Price: $7.84
Need to Know
Raising Izzie is an unrated movie which is appropriate for all ages. Pre-teens will probably get the most enjoyment from this movie.
I watched this move through, and I'm not much of a fan of movies. At the same time, I wanted to enjoy the adoption element more than I did, and I found the racial implications through the better part of the movie saddening. In some ways the characters focus too much on the differences between black and white, and while I appreciate this from an (interracial) adoption standpoint, I felt that it was unnecessary to illustrate that the main adult character found "white jokes" funny.
The storyline is highly improbable (to the point of being unrealistic) but I did find this movie enjoyable once I let go of the lack of realism.
I consider Raising Izzie to be a three-star movie. While I enjoyed it, it won't be one that I watch again and again.
The basic premise behind Raising Izzie is highly implausible and I found it difficult to follow the movie due to its improbability.
Note that there are some minor spoilers ahead!
A mother with cancer arranges for her daughters to have an apartment and money to pay their bills once she passes on. The means with which they will pay the bills will come from a corporation she has set up (and which she has hired a man to manage). The corporation is never fully explained beyond the fact that their house will be leased to a family and the money from the lease will go to pay the girls' bills. Gertie, who was thirteen at the that her mother died, will be in charge of taking care of Izzie.
Most of all, nobody can know that their mother is dead.
What I Liked about Raising Izzie
I enjoyed the development of the characters through the story and the way that they had to change in their relationships with one another. Tonya and Greg struggled with one another in particular, and the movie follows them from happy childless couple to relational turmoil as Tonya realizes that Greg doesn't want to have children, through to Greg's desire to adopt (and Tonya's hesitation) to a complete role reversal. This felt realistic to me, even if it was a bit rushed.
What I enjoyed the most, however, was the emphasis on how hard Gertie tried to keep her family together, and the moments when Tonya pointed out that if the authorities were called about the girls, they would probably be split up and placed in different foster homes. This is an important message that I feel needs to be stressed in movies like this.
In particular, I enjoyed the Greg's character, and the way that he held it together through the entire movie. He emphasized the importance of God's role in family, and he brought everything back around to the finish. He's the true inspiration in this movie (even if I didn't like him at all at first).
What I Didn't Like about Finding Izzie
In addition to the implausibility of the plot line, Victoria Staley's performance as Gertie was unconvincing, at best. It was hard to believe that this girl was experiencing the emotions she acted out on screen. At one point, the scene was particularly emotional and her tears were unbelievable and difficult to connect with. I personally felt that she entirely ruined the scene with her poor acting.
I also felt that the movie could have been better without the "white people" jokes. Assuming that this was the writer's attempt to make a point about transracial adoption, it fell short of the mark. So much could have been done differently to emphasize the struggle of children born to one race and adopted by parents of another race, but this just fell flat and ugly. These types of jokes are ugly regardless of which race they are directed at or who the intended audience of the movie is.
This just didn't feel right in the context of the movie and made the character making the cracks unlikeable. Otherwise, he was the best thing to happen to this movie!
What themes do you feel Raising Izzie handles well?
The Adoption Theme in the Movie
As you probably already know (if you've read my profile), I an an adopted person. Although my adoption took place when I was an infant and I have yet to experience the loss of a parent, I spend considerable time researching adoption issues. In general, I avoid adoption movies because they often fall short of the mark in handling the theme of adoption, and leave me feeling used by the writer and producer of the movie. My best friend, however, enjoys them, and I often find myself watching them alongside her for company and camaraderie.
This movie does not handle adoption especially well. While it's clearly a theme in the film is intended to address adoption-related issues, it is more a film about trusting in God and having faith through difficult times than it is a movie about adoption. I wish that it could have done more to touch on subjects relating to the displacement of the two girls, their feelings about being ripped from their home (through tragedy, not through authority) and how they bonded with their new family.
Much of this is brushed aside to deal with matters of faith, and I believe the movie could have done a better job, particularly where transracial adoption is concerned.
I did appreciate that the family had to go through the normal steps to achieve foster parent status, but this should have been emphasized more.
This film is not rated (NR) and should be good for people of all ages. It addresses themes relating to Faith, but does not make a clear point about denominational faith. In other words, this movie is appropriate for families who believe in God, regardless of the family's denominational faith.
Families with older children will probably enjoy this the most. It's likely to bore teenagers, and should be most entertaining to children in their tweens (10-12 years old). Parents concerned about matters regarding faith should consider watching the movie before allowing their children to watch it.
This is an inspirational movie.
© 2015 Becki Rizzuti