By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
The perennial problem of bullying in schools has received increased attention of late, and so provides a timely theme for the made-for-TV movie “Field of Vision.” This family-focused drama — which boasts a strong moral core and worry-free content — premieres on NBC Saturday, June 11, 8-10 p.m. EDT.
In a tale that oddly, sometimes uneasily, mixes fantasy and realism, Tyler McFarland (Tony Oller), the captain and star quarterback of his high school football team, discovers -– through the images on an outmoded but apparently mystical video camera — that two of his fellow players have been persecuting troubled new transfer student Cory Walker (Joe Adler).
Since the bullies are two of Tyler’s oldest friends, he’s naturally reluctant to notify his ethically exacting coach about their misdeeds, given that the pair will likely be barred from playing as a result. His dilemma is compounded by the fact that his squad is on the fast track to the state championship via a series of matches they might well lose in his amigos’ absence.
As Tyler’s kid sister Lucy (Alyssa Jordan Shafer) befriends Cory -– in a subplot promoting the joys of reading, they’re shown to share a love for classic adventure stories -– she suspects the scenes that same magic camcorder has begun to show her may have to do with the lonely newcomer’s unhappy past, as well as his potentially much brighter future.
Just as the gridiron heroics are deliberately calculated to appeal to boys in the audience, so these sequences — which offer us glimpses of life on a horse farm — represent an obvious bid for the attention of the Justin Bieber set.
If the stratagems being deployed are not especially deep, however, at least the approach is a wholesome and uplifting one, offering youngster a case study in the value of doing the right thing, and presenting a range of role models parents will appreciate.
In addition to the aforementioned coach, these include the caring foster parents with whom Cory lives -– whose religious motivation for helping others is hinted at by the cross we see hanging on their living room wall — and Tyler’s mom Jody (Faith Ford), the school guidance counselor, who devotes kindly and unstinting attention to Cory’s difficulties from the outset.
As for the unusual device at the center of the story, it may be intended as a metaphor for biblical faith -– an aid to seeing and understanding the world that many today might be tempted to discount as old-fashioned but which, if employed in the right spirit, offers insights that would otherwise elude us.
“Field of Vision” is the sixth film in an entertainment series dubbed the Family Movie Night Initiative and jointly sponsored by Walmart and Procter & Gamble. It’s rated TV-G -– general audience.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.