Rated PG-13 | Time: 1:35
A washed-up professional baseball player with a drinking problem seeks redemption — or, rather, redemption seeks him, in the form of a kindhearted grocery store clerk with Down syndrome — in the unapologetically melodramatic “Where Hope Grows.”
What would otherwise be a predictable and somewhat tired advertisement for Alcoholics Anonymous is given a slight twist by the presence of David DeSanctis as the aptly nicknamed Produce, a developmentally disabled young man who has memorized the SKU numbers for every fruit and vegetable in the store where he works, and dispenses hugs and biblical wisdom to shoppers.
Disgraced former ball player Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) could use one of those hugs, navigating life in a booze-soaked haze as he tries to raise his teenage daughter (McKaley Miller) alone, for reasons that are unclear. Needless to say, Calvin finds much more than a friend in Produce, who becomes a kind of spiritual role model to this lost soul.
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The Christian-themed “Where Hope Grows” wears its heart on its sleeve, hawking its message of salvation though faith to anyone who’s in the market for cheesy uplift and saccharine sentiment. It’s a soft sell, to be sure, but it’s salesmanship all the same.
| Michael O’Sullivan
The Washington Post