Following the tragic death of her husband Willie, Missy LaHaye moves back to the town her parents, Clark and Marty Davis, live in order to try to start a new life. She is determined to insulate herself from anymore heartache by taking care of her son Matty and by quietly settling into another teaching role. However, her carefully constructed world is disrupted when an orphan train comes to town looking for new parents to take in starving orphans and when Missy finds herself falling for the town sheriff, a broken man who also wants to protect himself from hurt. Little do they know that out of sadness can come new beginnings.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
With the exit of Michael Landon Jr. from the franchise, the production quality diminished considerably. While the camera work, video quality, and sound quality are still above par, there are other problems to contend with. The sets are obviously limited as some things take place off screen and some surroundings don’t really even capture what they’re meant to capture. The costuming is partially unrealistic as some characters never seem to get dirty and obviously have modern hairdos. Furthermore, the editing can best be described as stop and start—the story does not flow well, as we will see next. In short, Michael Landon Jr. still knows how to produce a film well, and his absence is felt in Love’s Unending Legacy.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
At this point, the Love Comes Softly franchise completely abandons the original intent of the novel saga and begins to attempt to excessively replicate the original series storyline—a youngish widow falls in love with a hurting man who she really didn’t like at first and who likely had a ‘romance hurt’ in the past. We really don’t understand why Janette Oke continued to rubber stamp this series since it undermines her better novels. Love’s Unending Legacy is wrought with bizarre lines, forced dialogue, and unrealistic happenings. There is really no good dialogue and the dialogue that exists is very head-scratching. “[Dancing] is an excuse to get your arms around a pretty woman” is not exactly a wholesome Christian line. Besides this, the end of the plot is predictable and neatly-fixed-up—yet it is not even accessible by audiences since there is really no feeling put into it. The only positive to raise here is some potential with the orphan train story, but that’s it. In short, we have to wonder why the original novel plot could not have been at least adapted in some small fashion when this is the alternative.
Acting Quality (0 points)
As previously mentioned, the costuming and makeup on the ‘good’ actors and actresses is unrealistic for the time period. The actual acting is very unusual, like some characters were allowed to improvise most of their lines. Other actors and actresses are left looking robotic because of an obvious absence of coaching. There is really nothing good to say here.
The big question Unending Legacy raises is ‘Why?’ With the departure of Michael Landon Jr., who at least partially adhered to Oke’s original books and brought above average production quality, was it realty worth making four more movies that borrow characters and titles from the novels and use them with large creative license? Unending Legacy doesn’t even have a good enough plot to justify the departure from the book—if it did, then this will be an entirely different review. An eight-movie saga is hard enough to craft successfully; four movies was likely enough.
Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points