Alexa Mechling, Naysa Altmeyer, Connor McClain
Aaron Dunbar (Novel/Screenplay), Don Swanson (Additional Writing)
Roxie (Alexa Mechling) is your ordinary, everyday youth until one day when she suddenly collapses on her school's playground and is discovered to have a life-threatening brain tumor. From playground recess to countless days in the hospital hoping for the seemingly impossible, Roxie wiles away her days with tests and more tests, procedures and more procedures. When she encounters Sophie (Naysa Altmeyer), a young volunteer, she finds common ground and a sympathetic spirit. Sophie, as well, begins to see Roxie as a kindred spirit and becomes determined to fulfill Roxie's very unusual "last wish" - to meet Bigfoot.
It's an unusually quirky yet fun set-up for a film set firmly within the world of teens/youths and grounded within the realm of real life meets a dash of inspiration and a little bit o' magic.
Based on a novel by Aaron Dunbar and directed by Don Swanson, A Wish for Giants is a good-hearted film that for the most part avoids overly sappy histrionics and the melodramatic tone that could have so easily turned the film into something completely dreadful. While the film is noticeably plagued by technical concerns, not particularly surprising given that it's a low-budget indie, the film really finds its heart n' soul in the quieter scenes between Roxie and Sophie, whose kindred connection feels believable and certainly realistic for anyone who has ever spent a considerable length of time in the hospital.
Mechling, as Roxie, is the film's true gem with a youthful spirit and innocence that keeps you watching and invested in her outcome. Wisely, A Wish for Giants doesn't focus a lot of energy in the latter parts of the film on her actual illness and it's that warmth and sentimentality that gives the film its spark. Altmeyer also gives a strong performance, particularly in her scenes with Mechling, as the conflicts with Connor McClain as Derrick Boehm never quite feel as authentic as the rest of the film and one couldn't help but wish for more time in the film's more fantastic sequences.
Filmed on location in Pennsylvania, which I hear is major Bigfoot country, A Wish for Giants gets a little too convoluted for its own good but is such a good-hearted film that a good majority of viewers interested in a solid family motion picture shouldn't mind all that much. While it's unlikely that A Wish for Giants will find its way to the multiplexes, if you get a chance to check it out at a film festival near you or with an eventual digital/streaming release you should definitely give it a shot.
For more information on A Wish for Giants, visit the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic