We all have unfinished emotional business; it’s what we do with it that creates various life circumstances, good and bad. Crafted for young adults, but brilliantly delivering this message to audiences of all ages, the storyline of The Tiger Rising addresses how we might unconsciously be creating emotional cages for ourselves, limiting our own growth because of what we’ve seen, heard, lost or otherwise endured.
Twelve-year-old Rob Horton (Christian Convery) and his father (Sam Tremell) have gone to a motel and holed up to live there after the loss of one very special mother and wife. To say their lives have been formed by their attempt to escape those who want to make inquiry about the way they’re handling their grief is an understatement: Rob’s dad has put himself under the leadership of a small-time business tyrant with no conscience. As handyman at the motel in which he’s chosen the live, the man daily hands over his power to the motel owner, Mr. Beechum, in exchange for assurance of a presumably safe roof overheard. The power-over extends to Rob, a quiet, respectful, meek and sensitive child with artistic inclinations, who we see the motel owner also degrading- and this is even after the child is picked on at school as well as while en route to school by bus.
Rob is gifted with a best friend when a new student in his class is relegated to relocation to her newly-divorced mother’s home town. ‘Sistine” (Madalen Mills) is trouble from the get-go with her mouth that that lacks a filter and an indomitable spirit rising out of the anger, indignation, and pain of rejection by her father. When she also becomes subject to the other kids’ bullying, the two are bonded in friendship that transcends their individual losses.
Along the way, the motel’s one other employee other than the boy’s father, Willie May, shows up to lend both a listening ear as well as emotional support. Queen Latifah warms us- as she also warns- as sage housekeeping staffer, perfect in her ever-wise and unassuming role as mainstream prophetess dispensing insights and care at just the right times. We never tire of the depth of character this humble actress beings with her to any film project. Casting, overall, shines: Dennis Quaid is just the right amount of rough-around-the-edges as well as conditionally heartless to pull off his role as narcissistic Mr. Beechum. Sam Trammel wins us as struggling single parent locked in grief. Catherine McPhee is loving- and lovely- as Rob’s deceased mother. Both child actors are convincing, at times almost frighteningly so, in fully embracing the embodiment of their respective losses- either by estrangement or physical death- of parent.
The film makers treat the audience to beautiful ethereal scenes in nature, whimsical special effects, fantastic spot animation sequences and other treatments that remind a bit of the film Miss Potter. Based on the novel by the same name by Kate DiCamillo, the film is adapted by Ray Giarratana with some changes from the original story. Giarratana’s writing and directing talents make this film and cast shine!
Opening January 21, 2022, The Tiger Rising is not to be missed: Gather the family and have some tissues on hand. Wonderful for any age, however trigger alert concerning loss of loved ones by death due to cancer, also fistfight and use of a firearm: Be prepared to answer questions about what happens at death.
Running 102 minutes, this film is a Family Adventure feature rated PG. Its release is timely and appreciated considering the state of our world- most especially since we’re also now ushering in the Year of the Tiger!
TITLE: THE TIGER RISING
IN THEATERS: January 21, 2022
ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND: February 8, 2022
DIRECTOR: Ray Giarratana
WRITER: Ray Giarratana
CAST: Christian Convery, Madalen Mills, Sam Trammell, Katharine McPhee, Dennis Quaid and Queen Latifah
RUN TIME: 102 Minutes
RATING: PG GENRE: Family/Adventure
Text: Michele Caprario
Images: Supplied by and used with permission of film company’s publicist