Keep moving folks. Nothing new to see here unless you haven’t gotten your fill of the jeopardy of the week. In fact, this latest family drama isn’t even based on a true story. Heck, it’s not even inspired by a real incident. “Miracle on the Mountain” is touted by CBS as a movie “suggested by actual events.” At this point, you might as well just admit it’s fiction, and not particularly good fiction at that.
Dan Levine’s by-the-numbers script introduces us to the Kincaid family, the prototype for the dysfunctional American dream. Tom (William Devane) is a wealthy, powerful and extremely controlling businessman. Anne (Patti Duke) constantly acts as go-between, trying to maintain family harmony despite the obvious tension between Dad and the kids.
Eldest child Carla (Elisabeth Rosen) is a daddy’s girl, working as a yes-man for his company, but much to Dad’s dismay is dating Charlie (Armando Valdes), a lowly high school history teacher.
Son Rick (Kaj Erik-Ericksen) is a second-string football player who would rather work at the local grocer instead of his dad’s office and Susan (Natasha Melnick) — well, Susan can’t be any good because she has a pierced eyebrow.
Tom, a real sourpuss, relentlessly pressures the kids about their shortcomings, revealing his tender side only to Anne. Anne decides that the cure-all is some bonding time at the family cabin, and ace pilot and private plane owner Tom agrees. The family is set for the big trip despite oncoming bad weather, but undependable Susan gets caught in traffic on the way and Tom decides to leave without her to try to beat the bad weather.
If we’ve learned nothing from reality, or even bad movies, one should never take a small plane up in bad weather at night. It’s like walking into a haunted house despite demonic voices warning you to leave.
Still, the inevitable crash and the search and rescue operation become — surprise — a dramatic device so that the real talents of each family member can emerge, thereby finally pleasing dad.
Director Michael Switzer makes great use of spectacular snowy mountain locales and thankfully keeps the story moving. With a happy ending all but assured, it’s best that the film is over fairly soon.
Technical credits are solid, although new footage of avalanche scenes would be a small but welcome addition to this tired story.