A miserly carpenter has a chance to redeem himself when an adandoned child wanders into his life.
For Steve Martin, acting the goat, it would seem, is par for the course regardless of subject matter, as his wittily bitter turns in Grand Canyon and Leap Of Faith verified. In his third attempt to rid himself of the funnyman tag, this time by updating Silas Marner, Martin tries to keep a straight face, but fails to make it through without some welcome wackiness.
Martin is Michael McCann, a music teacher whose life is shattered when he is horribly betrayed by his pregnant wife. Six years on, the only thing he is conducting is a hermit-like existence, living in a forest, making furniture and avoiding almost all contact with the outside world. Until, that is, he adopts an abandoned baby girl who toddles into his house one snow-encrusted night.
Thus the scene is set for much Parenthood-style child amusement: dinner-time repartee, wigging out to old 45s and Martin flying through the air attached to a giant balloon. In short, everything is hunky dory between the revitalised Michael and his "daughter" Mathilda (Alyssa Austin), until ten years later when the natural father - a rich senator (Byrne) - challenges Michael to the inevitable custody battle.
Much of this plays like an above-average TV movie but, fortunately, Martin adds an unexpected lightness of tone, giving proceedings a more human dimension, while Austin has the all-too-rare distinction of being an appealing screen moppet.
Only the ending disappoints, coming across as little more than a rushed climax to prevent things from winding on too long, in this otherwise worthwhile and refreshingly schmaltz-free effort.