Tonight Lifetime premieres its unauthorized biographical movie MAGIC BEYOND WORDS: THE J.K. ROWLING STORY about the much beloved J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. The movie premieres at 8:00 p.m. ET. I had the opportunity to check this one out in advance and I was kind of disappointed.

Just so we are clear, I am not a huge Harry Potter fan. I have not read all of the books nor have I seen all of the movies. However, I do know what they are about and, more important to this film, I knew the story about the author, J.K. Rowling, and how she got her start as an author. Thus, I was excited to watch this movie to see it played out. I wanted to see where Ms. Rowling got her inspiration, how the story came to her, her writing technique and other beyond-the-scenes type information. Unfortunately, the movie went in another direction.

Without giving away J.K. Rowling’s story in case you do not know it, the movie starts off with a very young elementary school aged Rowling to show how at a young age she was imaginitive, inquisitive and full of fantastical ideas. She also was apparently scared of nothing. That was the theme throughout the entire movie. In fact, it could be turned into a drinking game where everytime someone said to Rowling “What makes you happy?” or “Do what makes you happy!” the audience would drink. It would not take you long to get a buzz.

Upon reflection, I realize that it is hard to make a movie about someone that took years and years to finally finish her books and then even more years to get them published. However, instead of speeding through some of those issues and roadblocks, the movie drags them out. While such a tactic does get the audience invested in the character, or here the author, there was no payoff in the end. We all know how it ends. Rowling is huge. Harry Potter is huge. The movie does not need to make me like Rowling, her books have already done that.

Surprisingly, the most redeeming part of this movie was the portrayal by Poppy Montgomery of J.K. Rowling. I have seen Poppy Montgomery in other movies and TV shows, notably Without a Trace, but this role seemed like a natural fit for her. Her accent was not awful and she played Rowling as not only the unafraid, determined woman that she is, but also as the soft and vulnerable wife and mother. I also liked when there would be random Potter characters inserted into various scenes that served as a reminder that the book was always on Rowling’s mind.

What’s the final word? Too little material for a two hour movie. Interesting background story, but not enough about the actual influence for the books, especially for seven of them! Good acting by Poppy Montgomery. I find myself at a bit of odds as to whom to recommend to watch this movie. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you undoubtedly know all about J.K. Rowling, her background, and how the story was formed. If that is the case, the movie will probably bore you. If you are not a Harry Potter fan, you probably would not care enough to watch. This movie, then, appears to be for those like me, the inbetweeners. You know some about Harry Potter (or a lot), but little about the author. Or you are a huge Poppy Montgomery fan.

If you find you are one of the above, or you find yourself watching Magic Beyond Words” The J.K. Rowling Story tonight at 8:00 pm on Lifetime, come back here and tell me whether you agree with my assessment of the movie. I am interested to hear what you thought!

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