by Del Harvey
The TNT Original film Wilder Days is an adventurous drama about the challenges and rewards of maintaining family connections and keeping the magic of childhood alive. Wilder Days will air as a Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on Sunday, Oct. 19.
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James “Pop Up” Morse (Peter Falk) is a colorful storyteller and a fantastic grandfather to his 11-year-old grandson, Chris (Josh Hutcherson), but he wasn’t always there for his own son, John (Tim Daly). Instead, he was often out chasing his dream of finding a publisher for his beautiful, hand-made children’s pop-up books. As a result, John felt neglected and rebelled against Pop Up’s world of fantasy and imagination by becoming a straight-laced workaholic more concerned with truth and facts than tall tales and chasing dreams. John’s son, Chris, on the other hand, is enthralled with Pop Up’s spirit of adventure. When John dismisses Pop Up’s fantastic stories as lies, Chris at first defends the stories, but, with the seed of doubt planted by his father, he begins to question his beliefs.
Pop Up deeply regrets his shortcomings as a father and the friction it has caused with his son. At the same time, he believes that John is shutting out young Chris’ spirit of imagination. With his health failing, he knows he is running out of time to make amends. He decides the only way to reconnect with his son and reintroduce the “spice of life” to the entire family is to prove the truth in his tall tales about the wreck of the Wilder Days, the circus boat on which he once worked. Knowing that John will follow and try to stop them, Pop Up breaks out of his nursing home and, without John’s permission, sets off with Chris on a life-changing, adventure-filled road trip in his beloved 1959 classic baby blue Cadillac Eldorado.
The journey and discovery of the Wilder Days jolts John into a new understanding of his childhood. As he comes to the shocking realization that Pop Up’s unbelievable tales are true, he is finally able to give up the bitterness that had tormented him for so long. Through the journey to the Wilder Days, he is able to experience life in all of its richness, reconnect with his father and, most importantly, be there for his son.
Del Harvey is a writer and screenwriting teacher living in Chicago.
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