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Little Red Wagon

by on October 17, 2011
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Based on an inspiring true story, “Little Red Wagon” is the type of movie the Hallmark channel highlights and plays over and over.

“Wagon” is the story of Zach Bonner (Chander Canterbury), a Tampa, Fla. boy who, in the wake of a devastating hurricane that left thousands without homes, tells his mom (Anna Gunn) that he wants to put together a few things to help them. You know, the usual — bottled water, nonperishable food, old toys. She shrugs and says “sure,” unaware that by the end of the day little Zach will have filled their garage with supplies.

Zach finds his calling, and soon he’s established himself a full-fledged charity, collecting emergency supplies on a large scale and helping thousands recover from their devastating loss.

He finds that charity is its own industry, full of politics and red tape just like any other. The Bonner family struggles to understand the complexities and play the game; they’re just looking to help people out and run into bureaucrats who are too busy with red tape to get anything done.

There’s an odd subplot about another single mother (Frances O’Connor), a single mother who loses her job and is forced into homelessness with her young son. It’s designed to be a parallel story to the Bonners, but it’s a bit melodramatic.

It’s a nice story and is a prime inspirational example for young kids, but the characters are two-dimensional and stock. The heroes are wholly good, sacrificing their lives to to help the homeless, with only Zach’s sister Kelley (Daveigh Chase of “Big Love”) allowed to have mixed feelings on what they’re doing.

In the end, “Wagon” chokes on its own wholesomeness and can’t see far enough past the act to show us the people underneath.

“Wagon” is a sanitized, generically inspiring film — not a particularly great one, but it’s the type of thing that will probably find an audience somewhere.