Mitch Albom is world famous for his moving and inspirational books. “Tuesday’s With Morrie,” “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” and “For One More Day” have all spent months upon months on the New York Times bestseller list. His latest book, “Have a Little Faith,” has just been adapted into a made-for-TV Hallmark movie (it airs this Sunday, Nov. 27 on ABC at 9/8 central).
The film, like the book, tells the true story of Albom (played by Bradley Whitford) as he comes to grips with a simple request from his Rabbi, Albert Lewis: please deliver my eulogy. Albom initially rejects the requests – he goes to synagogue once a year, if at that! But his kind-hearted Rabbi (played with a sweet grace by Martin Landau) slowly wears him down, and eventually he capitulates. He begins to spend more and more time with this pillar of the community and eventually experiences a rebirth of his own faith.
This story dovetails with Albom’s experiences doing charity work in inner city Detroit, where he meets Henry Covington (Laurence Fishburne), the ex-drug dealer, ex-addict, and ex-convict pastor of the I Am My Brother’s Keeper church. The church, incidentally, has an enormous hole in the roof, and while Albom is initially reticent about coming to the aid of someone with such a chequered past, he comes around after witnessing Henry’s genuine heart of faith.
Have a Little Faith suffers some in the translation from book to the small screen. While the two story lines are similar and connect in a surprising way at the end, the non-fiction trappings of the book don’t gel very well when forced into the narrative structure of a film. As such the film can feel a bit aimless at times, as if it isn’t quite sure where it’s going.
The strong performances, however, coupled with the honest and sincere look at faith and religion, help to make the film greater than the sum of its parts. The danger here (and the danger with most made-for-TV movies) is a descent into melodrama and saccharine pronouncements about belief and God, but Have a Little Faith sidesteps those issues. From the street-wise spiritual insight of Covington, to Lewis’ timeless wisdom, to the touching eulogy Albom delivers at the end of the film, Have a Little Faith is often both inspiring and moving, sometimes in surprising ways.
This Thanksgiving weekend, if you’re looking for some family entertainment that will stir your soul and inspire you to be a better person, Have a Little Faith is a good bet.
Watch the trailer below!