Dear Eleanor online movie review - Modest "Road" Picture is Fun & Light-Hearted
The strength of "Dear Eleanor" was in the scripting that included clever dialogue and situations filled with nostalgia of the early 1960s.
From start to finish, the scenes were lively as two teenagers take to the road for a cross-country trip from California to New York to visit Eleanor Roosevelt in 1962.
The film starts in the breadbasket of California in Manteca. A young girl's mother dies tragically in an auto accident just before she could deliver a short speech introducing Eleanor Roosevelt. To honor her mother, the main character enlists her best friend to make the trip to New York. Along the way, there is a series of improbable events. While most of the scenes are silly, there is nonetheless good humor and charm throughout the film.
Part of the charm of the film derives from the screenwriters' references to movies and culture of the early 1960s. While serious events are introduced, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the writers keep the mood light, constantly interjecting humor and silliness. The most absurd situation was a traveling companion picked up by the girls, who is an escaped convict, who bails them out of difficulty when they are arrested. Later, the convict inexplicably drops out of the plot by boarding a single-engine airplane and flying off into the sunset. Without a doubt, the scenes with convict are the funniest in the film, especially the banter that implies that the man might be one of the felons from Alcatraz, who made a daring prison break at this time.
While the character of Eleanor Roosevelt was not developed in much depth, she was still given a fine tribute for her many humanitarian achievements, not the least of which was delivering her own speech about civil rights in the face of threats from the KKK. This was a thoughtful film with both humorous and touching moments from writers with excellent potential.