Gracie Weatherly (born Gracie Thompson) is the main protagonist of the 2004 drama movie Gracie's Choice. Born into a life of chaos and trauma, Gracie has learned many of life's hardships, but unlike many other people in her life, she turned the pain she endured into strength rather than weakness. Caring and selfless, Gracie will protect her family at all costs, and at the climax of her life, she decides to be the mother her siblings never had.
Kristen Bell's performance as Gracie has received critical acclaim, and was an enormous contributor and starting point to her success in the film industry.
Gracie was born as the first of five children to Rowena Larson, a drug-addict, and a man with the surname Thompson. During her early years, her mother filed a restraining order against her father and moved on to other relationships. With these new partners, Rowena had four more children, Rose, Ryan, Jonathan, and Robert. Gracie's childhood was filled with complication. Aside from being forced to switch schools constantly, Gracie and her siblings endured both physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect, from not only their mother, but her partners as well.
A Rough Start
At the age of 16, Gracie, her siblings, and their dog sleep over at one of their mother's drug rings. As dawn approaches, the police arrive to bring the addicts into custody. After breaking through the door, they find Gracie and her younger siblings tightly packed in one of the rooms. Though they suspect their mother of being involved in the ring, she manages to convince them that the others just let her family sleep there. The police tell her to take her kids as far away from the area as possible. The family gets inside their car, but are forced to leave their dog behind as they evacuate.
Later that day, Gracie and her mother convince a hotel manager to let them stay for the night and that their grandmother will bring the money for him first thing in the morning. Gracie then gets to enjoy some quality time at the pool with her siblings and soaks her feet in the water. When morning arrives, Gracie and her family quickly pack everything up, start the car, and drive as fast as they can from the hotel in order to avoid paying their debt.
They arrive at their grandmother, Lou,'s house, where they happily embrace her. Although Rowena has had a horrible reputation with her mother, Lou decides to help her and her family find a place to live.
A few days later, Gracie and her family find an apartment with the help of their grandmother. While her brothers play on the playground, Gracie and her sister find and take in two stray cats. Gracie names hers "Shadow" while Rose names hers "Snowball". They show them to their mother who finds them adorable as well. Gracie then asks if they could keep them, to which her mother agrees. Rowena then asks the two to go to the store to pick up some food, and states that she'll make some goulash her friend Rudy used to make. After Rose brings up that Rudy is now in prison, her mother spills her drink on her as punishment. When Lou asks what commandment he broke, Rose asks what a commandment is. Lou and Rowena scold her for not knowing that they are the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses. When Lou asks Rowena to get her kids back into school, Rowena screams that she'll do it tomorrow. She then angrily tells her daughters to get the milk from the store.
After getting back into school, Gracie shows difficulties in class due to an intense lack of education in her upbringing. She struggles to read a copy of "Romeo and Juliet", which her teacher is frustrated by. When he asks her if she had ever heard of "Romeo and Juliet", Gracie replies that she knows what a Romeo is, causing the class to erupt in laughter.
Later that day, Gracie and Rose come back home after a stressful day at school. Gracie gives her brother Robbie a kiss and then speaks to her mother, who introduces her to her new boyfriend, Ray. Embarrassed by her mother's behavior around her, Gracie goes into her room.
During nighttime, Ray wakes Gracie up and asks her to come out so they could have a small talk. Once outside in the hallway, Ray sucks up to her, gaining her sympathy, but once he tries to touch her, Gracie immediately gets back inside. She opens the refrigerator to get some milk, allowing Ray to come up from behind and touch her inappropriately. She manages to defend herself by smashing a glass bottle onto his face, to which he aggressively punches her back, giving her a bloody lip. After a few seconds of struggle, Ray attempts to rape her while holding her towards the refrigerator. Luckily, Rowena catches him in the act and intervenes. Ray defends himself by saying that Gracie tried to come on him, to which Gracie calls him a liar. Rowena throws her into the next room and holds her towards a wall. Gracie shows her mother her injury, but Rowena begs her to let her have this man, as she believes that Ray is truly the one for her.
The next day at school, Grace's English teacher sees her injury and asks who hit her. Gracie claims that she simply walked into a door, which does not convince him in the slightest. Gracie then tells him about her turbulent childhood and that being hit doesn't matter to her as it had happened constantly since she was born. The teacher replies stating that he would have to report this, to which Gracie asks "Why?"
A few days later, Gracie is at home petting her cat Shadow when Rowena and Ray come back home with doughnuts. Once Rowena offers her one, Gracie simply scolds her for being gone for three days and that they have no food left. Rowena surprisingly doesn't show any aggression and simply let her daughter have a doughnut, which Gracie thanks her for.
Three hours later, Gracie and Rose are playing with their cats when they hear police sirens nearby. They see multiple police cars coming their way, As a result, Rowena begins to panic and tries to throw her drugs down the toilet. Though she asks Ray for help, he abandons her by jumping out the window, but the police arrest him as he tries to escape. The officers then escort Gracie and her siblings out of the building as their mother is arrested. As the police try to separate the children and put them into different places, the siblings try to resist, but to no avail. As her brothers are taken away, Rose blames Gracie for this situation as it would not have happened if she hadn't told her teacher at school.
The police bring Gracie and Rose into a juvenile detention center for them to stay at for a few days until the situation can be resolved. The instructor has them undress and take a shower, where they have a good laugh about their mother's life. After put into proper uniform, the sisters are sent to bed, but are forcefully separated when they want to sleep together.
The next morning, Gracie and Rose go to the center's outside gym for warm-ups. As Rose expresses her discomfort, the other girls began to bully and degrade her. When the exercises begin, Rose continues to be mocked by them. After she verbally defends herself, one of the other girls shoves her into the cage wall. When Gracie tries to break up the fight, the officers put her into a detention room. Before they leave, Gracie screams to know where her brothers are and demands to call her grandmother, to which the officers agree.
Chance for a New Life
Lou comes for her granddaughters shortly after and firmly embraces them. She informs them that they, as well as they boys, are going to be living with her for the time being. She also reveals that their mother will not even be allowed to see them when she gets out. However, in order to help support the family, Lou will need help from both Gracie and Rose to keep everything in check. The girls then return to their old apartment to find their kittens, but are unable to.
A few days later, Gracie's brothers return to their grandmother's house where she and her sister happily reunite with them.
At bedtime, the boys ask Gracie and Rose if they could sleep with them as they are scared of being alone. Although the girls are okay with it, Lou catches them in the act shortly after and forces the boys to go back to their rooms.
A few days later, Gracie and Rose begin their first day at Lewis and Clark High School. During the middle of the day, Gracie accidentally runs into Mrs. Thurston, a school counselor, and causes her to drop her papers while running to pick up her brother. Thurston forces her to clean up the mess and has her come into her office for a discussion. While there, Gracie acts cocky towards her before revealing her situation. Thurston tells her to put her focus onto school rather than finding a job. Gracie becomes frustrated due to her comments and asks to leave, which Thurston allows, but with a reminder to "get her act together".
A few weeks after this, Gracie manages to get a job at a local dinner. The next day, she participates in a tryout for the track team, and manages to win the race. Tommy, a football player whose eye is caught by this, takes interest in her and asks her how she learned to run so fast. She replies that it was due to running from truant officers. He then tells her that she should be on the track team, but she replies that she doesn't have time for that. She then attends her job where Rose and her boyfriend Rick are eating at. Rose then asks Gracie to pay for his meal as he forgot his wallet. Gracie agrees but warns Rick to not come back without it.
As Gracie is walking home, Tommy drives up to her and offers her a ride, but she declines, saying that she takes the bus. However, after Gracie gets on the bus, Tommy appears there as well, stating that his car broke down. After the conductor drops them off, the two engage in conversation while walking to Gracie's house. After they get there, Gracie tells Tommy her story. Tommy acts supportive of her, and tells her that tomorrow, they can both take the bus.
Once Gracie is inside, she is shocked to learn that not only is her sister pregnant and engaged to her boyfriend, but that she is dropping out of school to leave with him. Although Gracie begs Rose to stay, her pleas fall on deaf ears as her sister finishes getting dressed. Outside, Rose tells Gracie that she loves her boyfriend and everything will be okay. Though this depresses Gracie, she accepts her sister's choice as Rose gets in the car with Rick. The next day, Gracie is in the school library researching "The Black Death" for a school project when Tommy asks her to help him a solve a problem on his computer. This eventually leads into a conversation and Tommy asks if Gracie could invite him to dinner with her family, which Gracie agrees to.
Later that afternoon, Gracie has Tommy over and introduces him to her family. They have a good laugh as her brothers make jokes about food prayers during dinner. However, Gracie's joy is short-lived as her mother appears with a new boyfriend, Franco. She is shocked as the boys embrace their mother and she them back. She then hesitantly introduces her to Tommy, who Rowena warms up to. Gracie asks her mother if they could have a chat outside. Once there, she tells her mother that she can't stay with them, and scolds her for landing her up in a youth facility. Rowena responds by asking her for a hug. Although hesitantly, Gracie gives it to her, and begs her to not screw them over again: a promise that Rowena makes.
Morning arrives, and Franco is watching a basketball game with Tommy on the family television set. Gracie finishes dressing up so Tommy could take her to meet his family. Once there, Gracie is shocked on the enormity of his house and expresses anxiety about whether or not his family will like her. Tommy calms her down by saying that he likes her and so will his family. They share a kiss and then head inside.
Meeting the Parents
Gracie has a friendly conversation with Tommy's parents as they cook up some burgers for them to eat. After wrapping up the barbecue, Gracie notices there are quite a few leftovers and asks if she could take them home to her brothers. Tommy's father agrees and gives them to her in a paper bag.
Once at home, Gracie overhears a conversation between Rowena and Lou, and is shocked to find out that not only did Robbie witness his mother and Franco engaging in sex, but that Lou had been giving her daughter the welfare checks that were meant for Gracie and and her siblings. Realizing that Rowena will always be her grandmother's number-one priority, Gracie decides that her only option is to take her brothers away and raise them herself.
At school, Gracie works with Mrs. Thurston and another consultant to find a solution to her problem. The consultant first considers foster homes, but Gracie rejects the idea, stating that the people there only take the kids for the money. She then proposes that she could adopt them herself. However, the both of them inform that although she can be emancipated, she would need the granting from a judge and to them, that would be "too much on her shoulders". Gracie, however, doesn't care and firmly states that she'll be their mother no matter the cost.
Once home, Rowena finds out about this and screams at Gracie, saying that she isn't their mother and she never will be. She then asks her if she's only doing this for the caregiver money, with Gracie responding that is exactly what Rowena is doing. Infuriated, Rowena tackles her daughter to the ground as the two scream at each other. After a few more harsh words, Gracie tells her mother that she'll never have her brothers and tells her to leave before she calls the authorities. Depressed by this, Rowena gives her daughter a kiss and does as she is told. Gracie then comforts her grandmother, who is devastated by all of this.
At nighttime, Gracie shares a bed with her brothers as they ponder how to solve the problem. Robbie proposes that they should just run away, but Gracie tells him otherwise as that is how their mother deals with her problems. After her brothers express concern about the court dates, Gracie reads them a copy of "Bambi", calming them down and allowing to fall asleep. Before closing her eyes herself, Gracie gives Robbie a kiss and tries to hold back her worries of the days to come.
Adopting her Brothers
About a week later, Gracie is at court for the Judge to approve her decision of having her brothers live with her. Although he sees a few complications with this decision while looking through many files, the judge eventually decides to give Gracie a chance to create a safe environment for her siblings, much to Gracie's joy.
Gracie then has her counselor see the apartment that she bought. Despite the mess that it is currently in, he gives her a one-week attempt to fix it up and make it truly a home.
Ove the next couple of weeks, Gracie finds everything she needs to create a stable life for her family. She purchases a car, creates a bank account, cleans up her apartment, and buys a lot of furniture for the place using all the money she saved up in her life.
After all of this is managed, Gracie's new social worker, Sandy Jacobs, arrives and examines the job she had done. Impressed by it, she gives Gracie a three-month extension, filling Gracie with relief.
At night, Gracie has a friendly conversation with her grandmother, and is heart-warmed to hear her say that she is "a better mother than she ever was".
Shortly after, Gracie brings her brother Robbie with her to the grocery store. While walking to the car, another one parks near the store. As Gracie opens the car door for Robbie to get inside, another car pulls up in front of them and a shootout begins between the men in that car and the one who had just parked near the store. No thought, just instinct, Gracie pulls her brother down as bullets run through the air. Robbie screams as the window shatters from gunfire. After the shootout ends, his sister tells him everything's fine and calms his down.
Once home, the police interview Gracie about the shootings, which she has nothing to say about as all she thought about was to keep her brother safe. Afterwards, Ryan scolds the police for pressuring Gracie, but Gracie tells him to calm down and go upstairs, as well as for Robbie to do the same. After her grandmother shouts that she and Robbie could have been killed, Gracie yells at her, also telling her to calm down. Shortly after, Tommy appears having heard the news. He throws his arms around Gracie, but Gracie begins to act awkwardly. She says that she might vomit, which she does on one of the officers while running to the bathroom.
Once bedtime comes around, Tommy comes into Gracie's room to comfort her. She expresses all the stress that she has to go through, from court, to school, to the housework, to the her brothers' well-being. Tommy tells her that all she has to do is get a scholarship, which will allow them to be together while her grandmother can take care of the boys. After being comforted by this idea, Gracie and Tommy make out on the bed. The next day, the two discuss the situation as Tommy shows Gracie an application that gives college grants to foster parents like her.
At work, Gracie's boss receives a call from a local hospital asking for Gracie herself. Once Gracie gets on the line, she finds out that her grandmother has been hospitalized.
Gracie rushes to the hospital without a second though. Once there, she finds her grandmother barely alive in a hospital bed. While dying, Lou loses touch with reality and begins to think that Gracie is Rowena. With this, she tells Gracie all her regrets, and that "parents aren't always so smart." Lou begins to cry and asks her "daughter" for forgiveness. Knowing that her grandmother is not going to snap out of it, Gracie plays along and tells her that she forgives her. Lou dies shortly after.
Louella's funeral is held about a week later, which Rose comes to attend while a few weeks from giving birth. Surprisingly, Gracie's mother, Rowena, doesn't show up.
After the funeral, much of Gracie's family holds a small little party at her grandmother's old house. To the family's shock, Rowena appears out of nowhere with a new boyfriend. She defends herself about not attending her mother's funeral by saying that she couldn't find the church, which does not convince Gracie in the slightest. Rowena is shocked by the fact that Rose is pregnant. She then asks where her sons are, which Gracie replies that they are outside.
Rowena goes out to see her boys, who are shocked to see her. She asks them to come to her. Although they are hesitant at first, they convince themselves to do just that.
Gracie and Rose watch this from the back door. Rose asks Gracie if she thinks their mother is going tot try to take the boys, to which Gracie responds "Who knows what she's going to do?"
An Old Face
After returning home from school, Gracie finds a letter from Braxton college in her mailbox, and puts it in her purse for later.
Once at work and with a break, Gracie opens up the letter, and finds out that it is a scholarship to Braxton College. However, knowing that she could not possibly go to college and take care of the boys simultaneously, Gracie tears it up and throws it in the garbage. Just then, her boss tells her that a man sitting at one of the restaurant's booths would like to speak with her.
When she comes to him, the man stands up and asks her for a hug. Confused, Gracie asks who he is. To her shock, the man reveals himself as Gracie's father, and asks if they could have a place to talk in private for just a minute.
After bringing him to the kitchen, Gracie scolds her father and tells him that he beat her, but he replies that it was her mother who did just that. Left with uncertainty, Gracie asks him if this is true. He responds that he had always been thinking about her and had been waiting until she was 18 so that he could see her. When Gracie asks why he didn't just call her, he becomes frustrated and tells her that he had problems of his own that he had to deal with. Gracie begins to sympathize with her father, but this is short-lived as her father then tells her that her mother is forcing him to pay child support for Rose and the boys as she is claiming they are his children, even though they are not. He asks her to sign a document saying that he was not in Rowena's life at all when her other children were born. Coming to the conclusion that her father only wanted to see her to avoid paying child support, Gracie is infuriated by this, but signs the document regardless and sarcastically tells her father "Good luck with your child support, Daddy".
When Gracie wakes up on the day of her graduation, she finds her bed covered in flowers, and she smiles as she knows it was her brothers' doing. After rising up, the boys bust through her door and shout "Congratulations". They give her a pancake breakfast with the numbers 1-4-3 (which represents "I love you"), heartwarming Gracie.
At school, Gracie receives her diploma and is happier than ever. She takes photos with the other graduates and hugs her brothers all the way. Rose, who had just given birth to her daughter, also makes a visit and tells Gracie how proud she is of her.
Mrs. Thurston then appears to take a picture with both Gracie and Tommy. After doing so, she tells Gracie that her new scholarship will have her go far. Unfortunately, Tommy overhears this and is shocked, as Gracie had told him nothing about this.
While on a date with him shortly after graduation, Gracie tells Tommy that she threw away her scholarship as he couldn't possibly just go to college and leave her brothers behind. Tommy grows angry at this and tells her to just let someone adopt them, but Gracie responds by saying that if anyone is to adopt them, it is going to be her. Tommy is infuriated by this and tells her that he wants to be with her and only her. Although he apologizes, he states that he has his entire life in front of him, and that he can't be with her if the case remains the same. Before leaving, Tommy tells Gracie that her family is ruining her life, and that she doesn't even see it, but Gracie refuses to listen to him, resulting in their break-up.
Back on Track
Gracie works with a social worker to file for legal adoption of her brothers. However, the man explains all the complications in this, and that this is incredibly unlikely to work out. Gracie doesn't care and has him help her anyway.
On the day of court, Gracie dresses up all her brothers and makes sure everything is set. Once they arrive, she has them sit down while she goes to the bathroom. After using the toilet, Gracie asks an old woman taking medicine if she could have one of those. The woman tells her that they are aspirin, and gladly gives her a few. As Gracie washes her hands, the woman exclaims that the court took her children from her just this morning, and asks what kind of people would that. Gracie is saddened by this as she is about to do the exact same thing, and wishes the woman all her luck.
When returning to the boys, Gracie is shocked to see her mother with them. The boys tell her that Rowena is going to take to Wyoming and they could have a comfortable life. She tells Gracie that she is going to make up for all of her mistakes as a mother, to which Gracie responds "Please don't do this". An hour later, court begins.
Becoming Their Mother
During court, Rowena builds her case and eventually gets into an argument with Gracie over who is more suited to be the mother of the boys. The judge ceases this and then orders the children to be brought into the courtroom.
Once there, the boys are told by the judge that they will be asked a simple question. Since Ryan is the oldest, he will be asked first. The judge asks him "who do you want to live with?"
Ryan looks back at his mother, and signals "1-4-3" at her. He tells her that he loves her and that he always will, but he then faces back towards the judge and tells her that he would rather live with Gracie, much to his mother's shock.
Before the judge can ask Jonny next, Rowena starts begging him to look at her, and exclaims that Gracie had brainwashed them to be scared of their mother. She then tells them that she is not a bad mother, and is just looking for another chance.
The judge tells Jonny to ignore what his mother had just told him and to simply stay with his feelings. When asked about who he would rather live with, Jonny exclaims that Gracie had been taking care of them their whole lives, which is what a true mother does.
Finally, it is Robbie's turn to be asked. When asked who he would rather live with, he at first says he would like to live in Wyoming and ride a horse, delighting his mother and making it look like he will choose her, but his mother's joy is short-lived as he says that what he would truly want is to go home with Gracie herself, filling Gracie with relief.
With all this in mind, the judge makes her decision. Although she expresses sympathy for Rowena, she terminates her parental rights of the boys and gives them to Gracie.
Rowena, realizing that she can no longer see her children, begins to break down in tears. She gets up in rage and screams. She tells her sons that she loves them, and that she will find them no matter where they go. She exits the courtroom with nothing but pain in her heart.
After Rowena leaves, Gracie throws her arms around her brothers. The judge exclaims that now these boys will be her children. Gracie exclaims that she understands, stating that they have always been her children. When asked if they are done, the judge replies "Almost". She tells them that all they need now is a surname, which she gives them five minutes to come up with.
While outside the courtroom thinking of a name, Ryan stumbles upon the name "Weatherly" on an officer's door, and says he would like that name as they had been through "bad weather". Gracie, Jonny, and Robbie all agree.
With their new name, the judge grants custody of the boys to Gracie, leaving her to raise them herself.
Gracie raises her brothers while putting herself through college. Due to her guidance, all of them thrive in school and eventually graduate with very high GPAs.
After her brothers move out and begin their own lives, Gracie earns her degree in law. While working in the firm, Gracie forms a relationship with another lawyer, Harrison Monroe. The two eventually marry and together have three children; two daughters (Maya and Rachel) and a son (Obadiah).