"Of Grandfathers, Tall Tales, Storybooks and Peter Falk. (Yes, again.)"
Take Peter Falk's age-old (albeit still fantastic) "muttering Columbo" schtick, mix it with an inevitable dose of Peter Falk's "rascally ol' grampa" persona from "The Princess Bride" and stick it into a Hallmark-esque TV-Movie of the Week that feels a whole lot like Tim Burton's "Big Fish" in many ways. The result is a quaint and quiet and instantly forgettable little family flick called "Wilder Days".Falk plays Grandpa "Pop Up" Morse, a fanciful old coot who loves to spin all sorts of tall tales over the dinner table. Although Grandpa's ill-tempered son, John (Tim Daly), has nothing but disdain for his father's fable-making tendencies, his little grandson Chris can't get enough of "Pop Up"'s storytelling.
A predictably mild tragedy puts Grandpa on the short road to the nursing home, but he and little Chris have other plans. Road trip time! Pop Up and Chris are on on the hunt for a place known as "Wilder Days" - a place that may indeed exist only in the books and the imagination of Grandpa Morse. Oh, and the grumpy middle-generation Morse takes off in mild pursuit.
Aside from perhaps as viewing material for loving grandparents and easy-to-please kids, Wilder Days offers little of note. Even Peter Falk's trademark charm seems visibly strained, as if the lovable old guy is either going through the motions or is just having a few off days. The flick as a whole just sort of ambles on at a rather meandering clip, and the moments that are meant to be poignant and emotional come off more treacly and tiresome.
Screenwriter Jeff Stockwell and director Mickey Evans have each done much better work than what's on display here (The Secret Lives of Altar Boys and The Sandlot, respectively), though for some, Wilder Days is precisely the sort of mild and harmlessly familiar TV schmaltz that goes down easy - and leaves nary a trace.Worth catching only for those who absolutely MUST seen every piece of Peter Falk's filmography...which, come to think of it, isn't too terrible a way to spend your free time.