Courage Mountain follows the time-honored formula of international coproductions by taking a hokey concept — the further adventures of Swiss girl Heidi during World War I — and casting the film as if it were the UN. Britisher Juliette Caton plays Heidi, Canadian Jan Rubes is Grandfather, Leslie Caron (France and Hollywood) is meant to appeal to an older audience, and hunky Charlie Sheen is there for stateside teenyboppers — though even his presence couldn’t keep this movie afloat in its brief theatrical release here. The idea is to be all things to all markets, but it’s an approach that yields such bizarre sights as Caton and the buzz-cut Sheen romantically yodeling to each other across an Alpine valley.
The story reflects the confusion. Opening as traditional family fare, it swerves into Dickens territory when Heidi’s Italian boarding school is overrun by soldiers and the girls are forced to stay in a rat-infested orphanage. After briefly becoming a Great Escape-style thriller, the film settles into the survival-adventure mode, with Heidi leading the others to safety across the Alps.
That part’s the best, due mostly to the breathtaking scenery. But it’s hard to see what audience, except maybe grandparents, is served by Courage Mountain. The orphanage scenes are too grim for wee ones, and Caton’s Heidi is too bland for older girls to sympathize with. The people who made this film have aimed carefully at everyone — and missed. C-