Patrick Swayze drifts through '50s suburbia in this gentle family fantasy directed by
Martha Coolidge. When a young widow (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) literally runs into
Swayze - she hits him with her car, breaking his foot - she insists he and his dog Betty
Jane come stay with her and her two sons until his foot heals. The movie shows the effect
that Swayze's unconventional ways - he's a bearded tea-drinker who chants to find inner
peace - have on Mastrantonio's family and on the cookie-cutter conformity of her
neighborhood. The message he imparts is to her eldest son (whose story this really is) is
pretty simple: what everyone else thinks doesn't matter. And then there's Betty Jane who
turns out to be something - or someone - far more powerful than your average garden-variety
mongrel. This is one of those hard-to-pin-down movies that usually tank at the theaters and
then gets discovered on video. Think of it as the best-ever episode of "Highway to Heaven."
Nothing earth-shattering, just a darn nice movie with a beguiling whisper of
wish-fulfillment. Frank Capra would like this film; heck, he'd have made this film if he
were still around.