Here is a perfect example of a bad made-for-TV movie. Growing Pains’ Joanna Kerns and Longtime Companion’s Bruce Davison star as the parents of a 15-year-old girl (The Man in the Moon’s Reese Witherspoon) who is diagnosed with leukemia. She needs a bone-marrow transplant to live, and only her 7-year-old step-brother (Joe Mazzello, from Radio Flyer) is an acceptable match. Mom doesn’t want the boy to undergo the operation, Dad does. A happy family is shattered; lawyers circle the sky like vultures. We’ve seen this sort of thing a thousand prime times.
The script by Sandra Jennings and Maggie Kleinman makes the family too unbelievably blissful at the start, too extravagantly miserable once its troubles begin. And the pacing is all wrong too: It seems to take forever for those troubles to start, and if you’re going to exploit a real-life tragedy, you should at least do it briskly. Kerns and Davison do their best, but Desperate Choices: To Save My Child is a torturing bore. D