Following their marriage, Willie and Missy LaHaye set off further west to begin a life of their own by building their own cattle ranch business. They set out with no one but each other to lean on and begin forming relationships with people in the small settlement near their land. Willie assembles a team of castoff ranch hands while Missy seeks to assist local Native Americans in their educational pursuits. They are surrounded by hurting and hungry people who need what they have to offer, but little do they know that evil also lurks around the corner, wanting to steal what they have worked hard for. The LaHayes will have to dig deep and cling to everything they learned back home in order to weather the storm.
Production Quality (3 points)
Love’s Long Journey marks the high point of the Love Comes Softly series in multiple ways, and especially in production quality. The camera work, video quality, and sound quality are all solid. This is the most authentic-looking Love movie when it comes to props, costuming, sets, and locations. Great care was obviously taken to make this film as realistic as possible, and it shows. Constantly dealing with farm animals on set is neither easy nor something you see often in Christian films, but Long Journey pulls this off without errors. In short, the production of this film is flawless.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)
While it is still not entirely accurate to the novel, Long Journey is the best flowing and dynamic plot of the film franchise. The characters, although they still need some deepening. It’s refreshing that there are some different characters in this plot that are not typical frontier romance characters. In that vein, there is no new romance\courtship, but an actual portrayal of married life—what a concept! While the dialogue as a whole is just average, there is some truly good humor throughout. The end of this plot, though slightly predictable, is actually epic and has a unique twist to it. However, the villains in this plot are extremely cheesy and unrealistic. Also, we felt that the subplot between the two brothers needed to be explored further and to take on a larger role in the film. But besides these small issues, this is a solid plot that deserves recognition.
Acting Quality (1 point)
This is where this movie loses Hall of Fame momentum. Changing actors and\or actresses in the middle of a franchise is rarely a good idea, especially when it’s a downgrade. We realize that sometimes you can’t retain actresses, but January Jones was a much better missy than Erin Cottrell. Unfortunately, a majority of Cottrell’s lines seem forced and strained—she is the main reason this movie is not as good as it could have been, especially since she plays the central character. But even still, this is the best acted movie of the franchise, with just average acting. On a brighter note, Long Journey has an actually fair portrayal of Native Americans by using real Native American actors—another novel concept.
Love’s Long Journey is another one of those movies that really could have been something great. It had all the tools—originality, great production, honest portrayal. But one poor starring actor or actress can really spoil a movie; this film is an unfortunate example of this. Regardless, this is an enjoyable movie that many people will find acceptable. It was a symbol in its era of better Christian movies and it can be used as a blueprint today on how to—and not to—revive a franchise to greatness.
Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points