When David, in a wheelchair with muscular dystrophy, accurately foretells the death of their fourth grade teacher, a doubtful Lyle decides to test the existence of God by attempting to get David to run again.
Based on a true story, Different Drummers is one of those uplifting films that makes you want to go out and live life with everything you’ve got while also leaving a tear in your eye. This story about David, a hyperactive kid, and Llyle, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, will tug at the heartstrings and leave you with some serious thoughts. While at times, a bit melodramatic, the film soars when the action is focused on its two young stars rather than the adults surrounding them. Don’t get me wrong, the adult actors all do a fine job (though some more than others) but at times, the dialogue on show is a bit stilted and a bit too “soap opera” for my taste.
There are also the couple of odd scenes that seem a bit out of place or perhaps just unneeded, such as the scenes of David who is temporarily put on medications for his hyperactivity (this seemed to be the early days of ADHD and Ritalin.) While these scenes showed us the potential evils of drugging your child to ward off hyperactivity, they didn’t really fit into the flow of the story and left me wondering what exactly the point of them was. So yes, the film was definitely up and down when it came to the script – the story was sweet and uplifting but it had its moments of overdoing things.
The actors playing David and Lyle were both top notch and had some wonderful chemistry going on. Most of the adults faded into the background, although the school janitor and David’s mom stood out – the character of the school janitor was a great one and the character of David’s mom walked a fine line of being somewhat dismissive of her child and being a protective momma bear that was interesting to watch. Those four were definitely an excellent ensemble.
Different Drummers also addresses the age old question of “Is there a God?” by letting David and Lyle have faith in a miracle that may never happen. This trope is widely overused and the situation in which it’s involved here isn’t new territory which makes the film drag a bit at times. The question of whether God exists is a universal on so audiences will have no trouble connecting with David and Lyle’s spiritual struggles.
Overall, Different Drummers is a life-affirming movie, one that will make you laugh and smile and ask questions, even if it is a little slow and a little over the top at times. I think it also makes an excellent family film that will lead to several interesting discussions. If you’d like to learn more about Different Drummers, check out their website or visit their IMDB page.