If we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, we will never wallow in the agony of I should have, I could have – Rabbi Albert Lewis
Whilst on a tour to promote his latest book, sports journalist Mitch Albom (Bradley Whitford) is met by his childhood Rabbi, Albert Lewis (Martin Landau), who has an unusual request, he wants Mitch to write his eulogy. Despite his reluctance Mitch ends up agreeing which means regular trips to see Albert at his home to get to know him more in order to write his eulogy. At the same time Mitch comes across Henry Covington (Laurence Fishburne) a former drug dealer who had done time but who not only now is a minister of a run down church but is providing shelter and food for the homeless. It leads to Mitch going on a bit of a spiritual journey as he questions whether a man like Henry can really change his spots.
I suppose techincally you could say that “Have a Little Faith” is a sequel to the wonderful “Tuesdays with Morrie” but for me it is more like another season in the life of Mitch Albom. As such I should say right away that whilst “Have a Little Faith” is a little similar in some ways to “Tuesdays with Morrie” it doesn’t quite have the same sparkle yet still delivers plenty of life lessons and has a motivational aspect about it. Maybe part of the reason why it doesn’t quite work so well is that Hank Azaria didn’t return to play Mitch and instead we have Bradley Whitford who does a very good job and gives Mitch a slight awkwardness which works but then he lacks that sort of energy which Azaria brought to the role. On the subject of replacements Melinda McGraw replaces Wendy Moniz as Janine and like wise does a good job but of course doesn’t feel quite right when part of what made “Tuesdays with Morrie” work was Azaria and Moniz.
Anyway as to “Have a Little Faith”, we in effect have three stories going on as firstly we have Mitch being asked by Albert to write his eulogy, some thing which ends up taking years as Albert has many more years left in him. This side is very much the “Tuesdays with Morrie” to the movie side as we watch Mitch regularly visiting Albert, learning about his past and learning some life lessons along the way whilst becoming like part of the family. The life lessons are as good as those from “Tuesdays with Morrie” and again I could spend plenty of time working my way through each of those which come up just from the scenes featuring Mitch and Albert.
But then we get two other stories with on one hand we get the back story to Henry Covington, from his troubled childhood to the night he promised God that if he got him through the night he would be his in the morning. It is a story drug dealing, violence, wrongful arrest, robberies and so much more until Henry made that prayer, realising that it is only by grace that he has been saved. The other story is very much the relationship which forms between Mitch and Henry as Mitch wonders whether people can really change as he finds himself spending time at the run down church and shelter which Henry ran with his wife and associate pastors. And like with the first storyline this side also has plenty of life lessons and a story trajectory as Mitch is humbled and realises he judges people on first encounters and appearance whilst also realising he can use his job to do some good.
As with “Tuesdays with Morrie”, “Have a Little Faith” is a made for TV movie and whilst it is available on DVD the version I am reviewing is one shown on TV. As such the version I saw had elements such as drug references and gun use which whilst not graphic might cause some upset to some, especially those who enjoyed the charm of “Tuesdays with Morrie”.
I will finish this review of “Have a Little Faith” by simply mentioning one of my favourite quotes from the movie:
Thou shalt not kill, honour thy neighbour. If I mean these things and the other guy means these things what do you get – Rabbi Albert Lewis
Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford, Anika Noni Rose, Mykelti Williamson, Deanna Dunagan, Melinda McGraw, Martin Landau, Anthony Castelow
Director: Jon Avnet
Length: 82 mins
Genre: Biography, Drama, TV Movie
You can buy Have a Little Faith from Amazon by clicking here