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Like Dandelion Dust

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Jon Gunn

Initial DVD release
January 25, 2011





Music director
Nathan Larson

United States

Like Dandelion Dust movie poster

Release date
February 25, 2009 (2009-02-25) (Sedona)September 24, 2010 (2010-09-24)

Stephen J. Rivele (screenplay), Michael Lachance (screenplay), Karen Kingsbury (novel)

(Wendy Porter), (Rip Porter), (Jack Campbell), (Molly Campbell)

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Like Dandelion Dust is a 2009 drama film directed by Jon Gunn and based on the novel by the same name by Karen Kingsbury. The film won 26 awards at 23 film festivals.


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Like Dandelion Dust movie scenes

Two police officers knock on the door of a home and a drunk man answers. Rip Porter lives at the house with his wife Wendy Porter. The police say they are checking on a domestic disturbance, and when they walk upstairs, they find Wendy injured. They arrest Rip, and he is sent to prison. It is unknown if domestic assault was Rip's only crime, but he is an abusive alcoholic and may have had a prior criminal record.

Like Dandelion Dust movie scenes

Seven years later, Rip is released from prison and Wendy picks him up to take him home. Rip has changed in prison; he is now sober and has taken anger management courses. Not long after returning home, Rip talks to Wendy about starting a family. Wendy has kept a secret from Rip since he went to prison; she gave birth to their son after Rip went to prison. She tells him that she gave the baby up for adoption, and the couple who adopted him are the Campbells who live in Florida. Rip is immediately driven to regain custody of his son, and has a right to do so because he never signed the adoption papers, as Wendy forged his signature. Jack and Molly Campbell have enjoyed an idyllic life with Wendy and Rip's son, Joey, and love him very much. One phone call shatters their world when they learn that Rip Porter has just been released from prison and discovered the adoption was fraudulent and has laid claim to his son. When a judge upholds Rip and Wendy's claim and Molly and Jack learn they must give Joey to them, they are distraught at the fact that they can no longer keep the son they have raised.

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Jack Campbell tries every legal avenue he can find to keep Joey. He consults with a lawyer about keeping Joey, but his lawyer tells him that there is nothing he can do. Jack then contacts his congressman friend, but the congressman also tells him that his hands are tied and there is nothing he can do to help them. As a last resort, Jack travels to Ohio and offers Rip money in exchange for Rip legally signing Joey over permanently to Jack and Molly. Rip refuses, and gets in a physical altercation with Jack. There are no charges pressed against Rip because Jack would also go to jail for violating the court order and for trying to bribe Rip. Jack and Molly have no choice but to allow Joey to visit his biological parents, Wendy and Rip Porter.

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Joey's first visit with Wendy and Rip goes exceptionally well. Rip has been working hard on preparing his home for Joey, and when Joey arrives, they work on building a tree house together. Wendy and Rip are grateful to have an opportunity to spend time with their son, and when Joey returns home to Jack and Molly, he excitedly tells them of his trip.

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However, Joey's second trip to Rip and Wendy's does not go well. After Rip's confrontation with Jack, he starts drinking again due to the stress of the situation. When Rip instructs Joey to take a shower, Joey refuses. Rip is at first patient, but Joey's constant refusal to wash up eventually causes Rip to lose his temper. He puts Joey in the shower, and while not intentionally doing so, accidentally puts a bruise on Joey's arm.

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Before Joey leaves for Florida, Wendy tells him about making a wish by blowing on a dandelion, and Joey does so. After he leaves, Wendy tells Rip that she arranged to have Joey spend an extra week with Jack and Molly before he permanently returns to them. This upsets Rip, and when they argue he seriously assaults Wendy.

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When Joey returns home, he shows his bruise to Jack and Molly, tells them what happened and they are very upset. Molly convinces Jack they should flee the United States to maintain custody of Joey. Molly's sister and her husband had invited Jack and Molly to join them on a church mission trip to Haiti. Jack and Molly decide to take advantage of this invitation by telling Molly's sister that the courts have decided to send an investigative commission to the Porter's home before Joey can return there. Molly claims that a friend of Jack's, a congressman, has helped to arrange this.

Molly's sister is suspicious of this, and calls the congressman. He proves her suspicions correct when he states that he has not helped Jack and Molly. Jack, Molly, and Joey travel to Haiti with Molly's sister and her husband. Jack has arranged for himself, Molly, and Joey to fly out of Haiti to another country.

However, Molly's sister calls Allyson Bower, the child services agent in charge of Joey's case, and tells her about the situation. The Haitian police force is notified and they stop Jack before he can drive the family to the airport.

The Campbells are returned to the United States and they meet with Allyson Bower. She tells them that Wendy Porter is there to see them. Before this, Rip and Wendy reconciled at their home. Rip felt tremendous regret for the way he had treated Joey and Wendy, and it is shown that he will continue to receive help and guidance for his alcoholism and anger problems, in the hope of becoming a better man. Wendy tells the Campbells that Rip never meant to hurt Joey, but that he is not ready to be a father. Jack apologizes to her for trying to bribe Rip and asks her to express his condolences to Rip.

Ultimately, Wendy agrees to hand Joey over to them permanently and signs a revised adoption paper, which Rip had also signed. They realize that the Campbells truly love Joey and cannot live without him even though he isn't biologically their child. Wendy and Rip still love him, but they realize that living with the Campbells is the best option for Joey, and as Wendy tells Joey goodbye, she expresses her hopes that she and Rip can have a relationship with him when he grows older.


The film was released in the United States September 23, 2010. The Times-Colonist named it as one of "10 films you will want to watch" in the Victoria Film Festival.

The movie was relatively successful, earning $77,960 on its opening weekend, in just 25 theaters. It was then expanded to 60 theaters,and by the end of its run, earned a domestic total of $352,810.


The film was well received by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, 80% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 15 reviews. Michael Ordona of the Los Angeles Times remarked, "'Like Dandelion Dust' is a well-acted, earnest film about adoptive parents' worst nightmare, dealing sympathetically with all parties in a lose-lose situation." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times praised the film and said, "There’s no denying that the acting in Like Dandelion Dust, an adoption drama directed by Jon Gunn from a novel by Karen Kingsbury, is superb."


Deauville Film Festival

2009 Won "Première" Award Feature Film: Bobby Downes

Heartland Film Festival

2009 Won Audience Award Best Dramatic Feature: Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Kerry David, Jon Gunn

Las Vegas International Film Festival

2009 Won Grand Jury Prize Best Feature:

Best Feature: Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Kerry David

Jury Prize Best Actor: Barry Pepper

New York VisionFest

2009 Won Film Competition Award Acting (Female Lead): Mira Sorvino

Acting (Male Lead): Barry Pepper

Production: Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Kerry David

Writing: Michael Lachance, Stephen J. Rivele

San Diego Film Festival

2009 Won Festival Award Best Actress: Mira Sorvino

San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

2009 Won George Sidney Independent Film Competition - Special Jury Prize Best Feature: Jon Gunn, Kerry David, Kevin Downes, Bobby Downes

Sedona International Film Festival

2009 Won Audience Award Best Feature: Kerry David, Jon Gunn, Kevin Downes, Bobby Downes

Best Feature: Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Kerry David

Sonoma Valley Film Festival

2009 Won Audience Award Best Picture: Kevin Downes, Bobby Downes, Kerry David, Jon Gunn

Honorable Mention Best Actor: Maxwell Perry Cotton

Jury Award Best Actress: Mira Sorvino

Best Narrative Feature: Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Kerry David

Stony Brook Film Festival

2009 Won Audience Choice Award Best Feature: Kerry David, Kevin Downes, Bobby Downes

Vail Film Festival

2009 Won Audience Award Best Feature: Kevin Downes, Bobby Downes, Kerry David, Jon Gunn


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