This movie was made for television by Wal-Mart, in the tradition of films produced for Hallmark. Wal-Mart even provided some entertaining commercials, similar to that of Hallmark’s endearing ads. I have seen three Wal-Mart family flicks, and this one is the most charming of the bunch. “Change of Plans” focuses on a couple that happens to be completely married to their careers: one is an aspiring singer named Sally, while her husband, Jason, designs high-tech planes for the government. Just as both of their careers are about to take turns for the better, Sally receives a shocking phone call: one of her closest friends has passed away, naming her as the sole guardian to the deceased woman’s child. To complicate matters, Sally realizes that the woman’s family has grown to include three more children that were adopted from different third-world countries from around the globe. Rather than see this family unit split up, the couple agrees to take all four kids into their home until somebody can be found to adopt them all together.
Despite its predictability, this movie is still appealing because of the witty dialogue, interesting characters and a cute soundtrack. The role of Sally is played by a former “American Idol” contestant named Brooke White, who has a singing style resembling that of Martina McBride. Physically, she has an uncanny resemblance to a slightly older Taylor Swift but is an extremely talented singer-actress. The children get to develop their spunky, honest, refreshing and independent personalities throughout the film. I also thought it was pleasant to see some teenagers interact with each other without blatant self-obsession or inappropriate lust. However, there were only two things I didn’t favor about this film, which are slightly related. First of all, it was painfully obvious that the racial diversity amongst the children was intentional, to the point of trying too hard in spreading a message of ethnic harmony. In addition, Jason makes a verbal racist stereotype upon meeting the African boy for the first time, assuming that he is a troublemaker. Sure, it was probably meant as a joke, but the boy didn’t take any humor from the comment and neither did I.
The two most memorable points about this film had to do with the children. The little Asian girl loved having Sally “tell her something” before going to bed, a unique request for a bedtime story. That was a very memorable scene. Finally, the movie did a lot to educate me about African culture, particularly concerning the country of Uganda and its customs. For the children, the impact of living in this “Pearl of Africa” with their previous guardians deeply affected them. The struggles that occurred as a result of adjusting to American life were very realistic, for both the married couple and children alike.
“Change of Plans” has an enjoyable element for all ages. There are even appearances from Randy Jackson of “American Idol” and PhyliciaRashad of “The Cosby Show”. The DVD would make a great gift for tweens and families for viewing. Not only were there plenty of moments to tug on one’s heartstrings, but humorous banter as well. The plight of orphans in this country is a sad situation, and this movie reminds its viewers of that grim reality, even in the film’s commercials. It’s not a depressing instance, but more of a motivation to somehow get involved in one’s local community to promote a change. This change is definitely more for better than worse.