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Gracie's Choice Reviews

Unlike most well-meaning made-for-TV problem dramas, this fact-based film doesn’t bury its kernel of truth under a bushel of stereotypes. Drug-abusing Rowena Lawson (Ann Heche) hops from bed to bed and drags her kids along. Busted in a dope house, she talks the police out of removing her five kids and putting them into foster care. Although they have different fathers, Rowena’s five children have learned to stick together under the watchful eye of teenaged Gracie (Kristen Bell). The manipulative Rowena turns on the waterworks and persuades a motel clerk to give them a free overnight stay, then persuades her elderly, ultra-religious mother, Louella (Diane Ladd), to give her a second chance. Louella enrolls her grandchildren in school, where a teacher betrays Gracie’s and calls social services. A traumatic stay at a juvenile facility reinforces Gracie’s determination to keep her family together, with or without her mother's help. When Rowena is finally arrested, Louella accepts provisional custody. Gracie’s younger sister, Rose (Kristin Fairlie), soon takes after her mother and becomes a teenaged-pregnancy statistic. Hoping to protect her other siblings’ futures, Gracie decides to become their foster mother, but her legal emancipation kicks off court battles with the now-paroled Rowena, who’s temporarily clean and sober. Although the courts give Gracie the chance to prove herself, Rowena does a convincing imitation of a changed woman, and Gracie must not only work part-time while attending high school but also she must patiently handle her brothers' learning problems of. After Louella dies, herprodigal daughter uses her inheritance to challenge Gracie. Can seventeen-year old Gracie prove she’s a better parent than her own mother? Veteran television writer Joyce Eliason doesn’t pander to viewers with facile emotional ploys, and the amazing cast earns the audience’s involvement by refusing to patronize their characters.