When it comes to fantasy and the supernatural, we’re all familiar with the Olde English stories of sorcerers and dragons. Is there’s an American equivalent? I suppose it could be found in the revival meetings and faith-healers of the southern Bible-belt. While I’m not sure this is the intent of Marty Madden’s Everyday Miracles, I couldn’t help but make the connection.
Madden’s story opens with a wandering loner, Cotton (Erik Scott Smith), who sneaks into a stranger’s barn to shelter for the night. It’s not long before he’s discovered by the owner, Clay (Gary Cole), who finds compassion for the lad and gives him a bed for the night. Cotton offers to work for Clay in exchange for a room, and he reluctantly accepts. Clay asks Cotton to join him and his daughter, Emily (Dani Fish), for the morning’s church service and Cotton declines. Well, that’s odd.
Now, Cotton is running from his past, and he’s tight-lipped about it. Clay starts to wonder where Cotton came from, and puts him to work. When Emily is pinned in the corral as one of the horses starts acting violently, Cotton confidently calms the horse down…as if by some miracle. Soon, word of the mysterious new horse whisperer spreads around the county. Locals visit the farm to meet Cotton for more miracles.
News of Cotton reaches a faith healer, Maggie (Lusia Strus), and her traveling revival meeting. Maggie happens to be Cotton’s mother, and her ministry has suffered financially and in numbers, since her “healer” son left. Their first encounter packs high emotion as both are harboring a secret, which caused Cotton to disappear in the first place.
“…her ministry has suffered financially and in numbers, since her ‘healer’ son left.”
It’s worth noting that Everyday Miracles is a family film, but not necessarily a faith-based one. Yes, church and religion are essential to most of the characters, but it doesn’t delve too deeply into faith—other than the ideas of “loving your neighbor” and helping those in need. Arguably, I think they should have. There is a question as to whether Cotton has actual “healing” powers or if it can be easily explained away as technique or suggestion.
The film’s positive message touches on compassion and family, with character-building through hard work and putting others first. Cotton also develops strength and confidence through his new, chosen “family,” and finds hope, for once, in his future with his potential love interest in Maxine (Zoe Perry).
As a film, Everyday Miracles has good performances from its leads. Gary Cole can do no wrong, and his gravitas makes everyone else look good. Erik Scott Smith and Lusia Strus are also good, not perfect, but good. The rural drama plays out like a typical family story on the Hallmark channel. The film suffers, as most family films do, in that it lacks story depth. It’s understandable because in the family genre you’re dealing with an easily offended audience (with children watching), going to dark places and pushing relationships and plots to explored areas are forbidden. So Everyday Miracles lacks the much-needed depth in story conflicts—gritty struggles to make heighten the drama. So, it falls into the milk toast category. Ultimately, it is what it is as filmmakers are handcuffed with this rigid structure.
Everyday Miracles will satiate the family-friendly audience until the next film comes along. For me, though, I need much more depth in my stories, and it just can’t be found in this genre.
"…values compassion and family with character-building through hard work and putting others first."