Former “Dawson’s Creek” director Morgan J. Freeman has us meet twenty-year-old petty thief Daniel Carter (Mark Webber) just as a compassionate judge gives him one last chance to straighten up his act, or it’s locked away in the pokey for him. He hits the East Village streets again with the intention of at least “chilling out” for a bit from the crime scene. It’s his mandatory gig of community service removing graffitti from the walls of an elementary school that helps keep him on track, even more so when his natural ease with children lands him an unexpected role as substitute teacher for a class full of six-year-olds. Daniel is drawn towards one kid in particular, Boone (Antonio Ortiz) , a charming little boy with a big afro. He takes Boone under his wing as kind of like a little brother being that the boy’s mother isn’t around to take care of him a whole lot due to some mysterious illness she has. Then, one day, Boone vanishes from class, taken away to some orphanage supposedly due to his mother becoming even more ill. Determined to find a better life for this boy, Daniel takes it upon himelf to rescue Boone (seen as kidnapping by everyone else) from the orphange and take him on a cross country trek to re-connect with his long lost sister in Dallas. And so begins a road trip filled with all of the best intentions, but ultimately finds Daniel on the wrong side of the law once again.
Light on over-the-top feel good mishy mashy, this road trip bonding experience is instead fueled by the natural chemistry between actors Webber and Ortiz, with little Ortiz stealing the show as Boone. This kid’s got natural screen presence. We’ll be seeing a lot more of him shortly. All in all, “Just Like the Son” is an easy-going, enriching journey. It doesn’t ask much of you except to just sit back and enjoy the ride.