104 minutes, 2009
Like Dandelion Dust pits two families against each other for the custody of Joey, a six-year-old boy they both claim as their own. The Porters are a troubled couple – in the film’s opening scenes we see a drunk Rip Porter being taken to jail for beating his wife Wendy. The Campbells couldn’t be more different – Jack and Molly have the big house, the sailing yacht and the happy family life. And they have Joey.
But the Porters are Joey’s biological parents. Wendy discovered she was pregnant soon after Rip’s arrest and imprisonment, and she decided to give Joey up for adoption. She also decided not to let Rip know about the pregnancy or adoption, so he only learns about Joey seven years later, after his release from prison. Since Rip didn’t know about Joey, he never gave his consent to the adoption. When Rip decides he wants Joey back from the Campbells, it turns out he has the law in his favor.
So the big question in this film is, what would you give up for your children? The Campbells don’t seem to have any legal means to keep Joey; should they explore illegal options? The Porters are in the right legally, but are they morally right to take Joey back?
I will mention a couple of cautions. The theme of domestic violence means this film earns its PG-13 rating. There is, however, only very brief violence shown. The second caution is related to the first. The physically abusive relationship between Rip and Wendy Porter is treated a bit too lightly in my opinion – Wendy quickly forgives Rip, and while that is due in part to the nature of the medium (in a two-hour film they don’t have the time to draw things out) the seriousness of spousal abuse means this turn around – from abuse to forgiveness – happens too fast. Yes, we need to forgive one another, but repentance also needs to be genuine. A man who hits his wife must show that his repentance is a clear turning away from that sin, and not just a brief interruption of it.
Like Dandelion Dust is based on a Karen Kingsbury novel of the same name so viewers will be surprised at the muted Christian presence. While several characters are Christian, and we see some scenes take place in church, Dandelion isn’t trying to be a sermon. There is no one doing a gospel presentation. Instead, this is simply a good night’s entertainment that will engage both your mind and your emotions. I recommend it for adults only because of the nature of the topic matter but heartily recommend it.