In the old-school inspirational drama I Am David, a 12-year-old boy (Ben Tibber) escapes from a Bulgarian post-WWII labor camp armed with little more than a compass, a bar of soap, a sealed letter to deliver in Denmark, and voice-over instructions intoned by a man whose identity becomes clear only after the lad has had his fill of fragmented flashbacks. Among the saviors in David’s past is a fellow prisoner with the face of Jesus, or at least of Jim Caviezel, who looks beatific while breaking rocks. Among those in the present is a kindly old Swiss lady who speaks with the plummy diction of Joan Plowright.
Clearly, huge tankers of disbelief must be suspended in a sea of goodwill to get into the spirit of the film, which has been adapted with much care by writer-director Paul Feig (the creator of TV’s Freaks and Geeks) from Danish author Anne Holm’s well-loved young-adult novel known here as North to Freedom. The movie meets the requirements of the Life Is Beautiful school; those loyal to the tougher, more stringent Osama academy of realism need not apply.