A 1990 remake of the 1953 classic, this sweetly effective film, set in 1903, centers on the effects of the Boer War. Two young Scottish boys, Harry and Davy MacKenzie (Leo Wheatley and Charles Miller), orphaned as a result of the war, have been sent to live with their grandfather. Charlton Heston plays embittered James MacKenzie, who lives on an isolated farm in Nova Scotia with his wife and daughter Kirsten (Leah Pinsent). He's the town grump, making his hatred for the Dutch--who he blames for the death of his only son--loud and clear. This doesn't sit particularly well with Kirsten, who secretly fancies the kindly Dr. Willem Hooft (Bruce Greenwood, affecting the best accent--a Dutch one--in the film). Hooft reciprocates, but the couple can't act on their feelings for fear of what rifle-toting MacKenzie will do. It's to this physically and emotionally remote environment the youngsters come. When MacKenzie denies their request for a puppy, they "rescue" a baby (who they call a "babby") to raise as their own. Naturally, complications arise.
Wheatley and Miller are darling. From the earliest scene, as they disembark, dressed in ruffles and kilts, they are simply delightful. They prove to be charming and unpretentious young actors as well. While none of the actors playing Scottish roles (including Oscar-winner Heston) quite get the accent right, this is a warm film that audiences both young and old can rally around, rooting for the very young--and well-intentioned--heroes. --N.F. Mendoza