Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ratchet and Clank brings PS4 game to the big screen

Movie Title:      Ratchet & Clank

Grade:   B-

Rating:   PG, 1 hour 34 minutes

In a Nutshell:    Based on the popular Playstation video game series, fans and kids will get a kick out of this action-packed, colorful ride.  

It’s full of gags and witty one-liners that will entertain adults enough when they have to see it with their kids.  The adults in the audience I sat with laughed more than their kids.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “To be a hero, you don’t have to do big things, just the right ones.” – Grimroth
  • Sometimes we forget who we really are.
  • Loyalty, friendship, perseverance.

Things I liked:
  • If you have read my movie reviews before, you know I love Paul Giamatti.  We don’t get to see him in this animated film, of course, but hearing his voice is still great.  He plays the funny villain Chairman Drek, who looks like a mix between a turnip and the magician Penn Jillette and quips “This is seriously next level.”
  • Keep watching after the first set of credits roll at the end to see a little bit more. 
  • Young boys will love all of the weapons, gadgets, laser beams, inventions and a “mess o’ bullets.”
  • I thought Dr. Nefarious’ little Spandex outfit was a crack-up.
  • Qwark is voiced by Jim Ward, who you might have recognized from Wall-E , Despicable Me 2 or Spider-Man 2 .  I thought the cute antenna on his head was adorable.  The character reminded me a little bit of Pixar’s Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles 2 movie is supposed to come out 2019. I LOVED that movie!)  #KillingIt
  • The facial expressions are done very well.
  • Sylvester voices Victor Von Ion and John Goodman brings Grimroth to life.
  • I was completely unfamiliar with any of the characters.  I would describe Clank as a mix between Star Wars' R2D2 and C3P0.  Ratchet is cute enough for girls to like, but adventurous enough for boys to love.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I've never played the video game, so I know I didn't catch any of the Easter eggs and inside jokes, but fans have said there are plenty.
  • There is writing on various things throughout the movie, but it’s really hard to read.
  • Tons of fight and chase scenes.  Tons.  Non-stop.  Nothing particularly new here. I actually fell asleep for a few minutes. 
  • I really like Rosario Dawson and think she’s beautiful, but she sounded like she was reading a script.
  • Because the target audience is mostly young boys, it’s no surprise that there is a scene where the characters are vomiting.  What IS surprising is the lack of other bathroom humor jokes.
  • You'll notice on the movie poster that the film was supposed to be released in 2015, but didn't come out until April 29, 2016.

Funny lines:
  • “And remember, you can do anything as long as you’re me.” – Qwark
  • “I heard you!  Do you see these ears?” –  Grimroth
  •  “The point is if you’re going to use one-liners, they should all make sense and be relevant.” – Nefarious  
  • “There is a lot of space in space.” – Clank (David Kaye)
  • “Everyone stay calm.  Something epic is happening.” – Captain Qwark
  • “Does anyone feel like we should have shot something by now?” – Stig (Alessandro Juliani)
 "The only thing I'm interested in finding is the Hall of Heroes cafeteria.  Come on heroes!  It's 3 floors up and it's meatloaf day!" - Qwark
  • “I know you’re working with Nefarious on this!” – Ratchet
“Yes, isn’t it wonderful?  We’re all part of the same dream team.  We should make t-shirts!” – Chairman Drek

Interesting lines:
  • “Blaming yourself and taking full responsibility are two very different things.” - Clank

Tips for parents:   

  • As you can imagine, the Playstation 4 game is now in stores.
  • It’s mostly harmless fun and teaches a few good values.
  • Will your kids enjoy it if they've never played the video games?  Sure.  It's a stand-alone movie that works, but not worth racing out to go see.  Take them to see The Jungle Book instead.  You can read my movie review of the new Jungle Book here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War is a mixed prequel/sequel

Movie Title:  The Huntsman: Winter's War

Grade:  B

Rating:  PG-13, 2 hours 3 minutes

In a Nutshell:    This ain’t no Frozen Film critics are ripping this prequel/sequel to shreds, but I actually enjoyed it.  There is some humor, adventure, great CGI, beautiful landscapes, fun action sequences and even romance.

Sure, the story is a little messy and uneven, but it’s still entertaining and visually stunning, especially if you liked Snow White & The Huntsman .  It has more enchanted charm than the first one, even if it’s a sequel that viewers never asked for.

 Uplifting theme: 
  • “Love doesn’t make you weak.  It’s all that ever gave me strength.” – Eric/The Huntsman
  • What does the mirror show YOU?
  • What is the source of YOUR power?
  • “Love conquers all…so I’ve heard.” – Queen Freya   (It really does.)
  • Jealousy and revenge hurt you more than the other person.

Things I liked:
  • The majority of the CGI is really impressive.  Some of it is fake looking (the fog on people's breath), but most of it is really good and believable.  I thought it was cool (pun intended) how there are delicate snowflakes in the air wherever Queen Freya stands.
  • The musical score by James Newton Howard is really good, noticeably good.
  • I could watch Charlize Theron all day long.  I think she’s absolutely beautiful…the fairest of them all. Unfortunately, the story about how she comes back to life is a bit weak and vague. Who cares though, really?  We get to see Charlize in beautiful gowns looking wicked and glamorous.
  •  I loved the river scene with the sprites and the enchanted forest scenes with the fairies.  Adorable turtle covered in moss.  (You might miss him if you're not paying attention to the background.) The film is from the same producer who worked on Maleficent and has that same feel.  You can read my movie review for Maleficent here.
  • The dwarves offer plenty of comic relief.
  • You get to learn a little bit more about Eric/the Huntsman and his back story. Chris Hemsworth works his charm and even has some funny lines.  I don't remember him talking with a Scottish accent in the first film, but he lays it on pretty thick in this one.
  • I really like the title "Winter's War".  It refers to the coldness of heart and the internal battle between good and evil, love and hate, as well as the actual snowy winter scenes where battles are fought in the movie.

Things I didn’t like:
  • They talk about Snow White, but you only get to see her from the back.  Apparently, Kristen Stewart didn’t want to have anything to do with this film, so they used a body double.
  • I really like Emily Blunt, but her portrayal as Queen Freya was a bit...shall we say...cold?  She has a new movie coming out in October called The Girl on the Train  
  • Lots of leather.  Lots.  Some of the clothing looked like new, fresh costumes and should have been messed up a little bit to look more authentic.  Queen Freya and the Evil Queen look wonderful.
  • There is a fight scene in a tavern that has good action, but it’s filmed too close, so you can’t see everything that’s going on.  It has no music in the background, just fight noises, which actually was an interesting sound choice.
  • Like Maleficent , the protagonist could teach young girls an important lesson in personal empowerment, yet becomes completely unhinged and evil because of a man who betrayed her.  Not exactly a good role model for our daughters.
  • The beginning and end feel a bit heavy, but the middle feels like a magical adventure.

Funny lines:
  • “This is the worst plan ever.” – Eric/The Huntsman
  • “What are you going to do: take on two evil sisters and their entire armies?” – Sara (Jessica Chastain)
“Yeah, pretty much.” – Eric/Huntsman

Interesting lines:
  • “Men have forgotten what it means to be afraid.” – Queen Freya
  • “You may know much, Ravenna, but you do not know all.” – Queen Freya
“I’m afraid I do.” – Ravenna
  • “If she could not raise a child, she would raise an army.” – narrator who is the wonderful Liam Neeson
  • “In my kingdom, there is but one law: do not love.  It is a sin.” – Queen Freya

Tips for parents:   

  •  Some profanity, as well as "colorful" Scottish insults
  • The goblins might scare very young children
  • There are some inappropriate sexual innuendoes, but they’re subtle and will probably fly over most kids’ heads.  There are two scenes when sex is implied, but you don’t really see anything.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Jungle Book takes CGI to a new level

Movie Title:      The Jungle Book

Grade:   A

Rating:   PG, 1 hour 51 minutes

In a Nutshell:    What do you get when you mix 90% CGI with a Rudyard Kipling remake?  Surprisingly, a beautiful family friendly film.  

Director Jon Favreau gives a respectful nod to the 1967 Disney original, while crafting a new one that is fresh and full of heart.  See it in 3D if you can.

Uplifting theme: 
  •  Baloo says, “Everyone’s got a song.” A strong message that comes out in the film is to be yourself, your best self.  We all have our unique strengths and others around us will be blessed when we are true to ourselves and use our talents.
  • Another wise thing Baloo says is, “You say you want to go the man village.  I say you can be a man right here.”  We need to stop waiting for something to happen before we live up to our potential.
  • Friendship, courage, love.

Things I liked:
  • Neel Sethi plays Mowgli, the only human in the movie, yet there is great humanity in the film.  He does an excellent job and is completely adorable.  I love the realistic detail of some scars on his shoulder and chest.  
  • Even if we don’t get to see the talented Ben Kingsley, it’s a pleasure to hear his voice as the protective teacher Bagheera.
  • Who doesn’t love the carefree Baloo?  Bill Murray’s voice fits perfectly and provides plenty of comic relief, making the audience I sat with laugh almost every time the lovable bear was on the screen.  This ain’t no bear from The Revenant!
  • Casting Christopher Walken as the creepy, funny King Louie was perfect. Walken has that reputation in Hollywood.
  • Idris Elba voices the scary Shere Khan and provides a villain who is frightening, yet not so much that young children won’t be able to watch the movie.
  • Scarlett Johansson’s soothing, tempting voice was also a great choice for Kaa.
  • The wolf oath has been borrowed by the Boy Scouts of America, because it teaches some important principles still today!  The 8 year old boys in Cub Scouts repeat a somewhat different version each week in their gatherings.
  • Adorable, yet realistic creatures in the jungle.  The porcupine was an especially popular character for the audience.   
  • Pay close attention to this fascinating detail…there is a water scene where you actually see water splashes on the camera…but is there really a camera there or was it all CGI?
  • Honey IS actually good for scratches and bee stings!

Things I didn’t like:
  • There is nothing at the end of credits, so feel free to leave the theater after the last scene.  I was disappointed, because they could have easily added any number of fun nuggets to surprise and delight audiences.
  • Some of the CGI looks a little fake, but most of it is actually stunning.

Funny lines:
  •  “Bears don’t hibernate in the jungle.” – Bagheera 
“Not full hibernation, but I nap…a lot.” – Baloo

  • I realize you weren’t born a wolf, but couldn’t you just act like one?” - Bagheera
  • “If you can’t learn to run with the pack, one of these days, you’ll be someone’s dinner.” – Bagheera
  • “He’s walking on two legs!” – animal child at Peace Rock
“Don’t stare!” – animal’s shocked mother
  • “What did I tell you?  He’s special.” – Baloo talking about Mowgli
“I know.  I raised him.” - Bagheera

Interesting lines:
  • “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” – Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o)
  • “You have never been a more endangered species than you are in this moment.” - Baloo 
Tips for parents:   

  • There are some animal fight scenes that might frighten very young children.
  • Shere Khan has a scarred eye that makes him look scary.
  • No profanity.

Other great versions I loved of The Jungle Book :

Saturday, April 9, 2016

God's Not Dead 2 empowers Christians and annoys atheists

Movie Title:      God's Not Dead 2

Grade:   B

Rating:   PG, 2 hours 1 minute

In a Nutshell:   This courtroom drama tackles religious freedom and the 1st Amendment.  Christians will feel empowered, while “non-believers” will think it’s entirely ridiculous.  

You don’t have to have seen the previous one to appreciate or understand this second.  You can read my movie review of the first God’s Not Dead right here.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “I’m not going to be afraid to say the name Jesus.” – Grace Wesley
  • Teaching vs. preaching
  • Why is it that diversity and tolerance seem to be offered to everyone except Christians?
  • “Who do you say that I am?”  Ultimately, we all need to answer that question for ourselves about Jesus Christ.  Denying the existence of Jesus doesn’t make him go away.
  • Would your Christianity convict you of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ?

Things I liked:
  • Ray Wise has a perfectly evil smile to play the opposing attorney, although it's really over-the-top.
  • Duck Dynasty fans will enjoy seeing Sadie Robertson.  They even mention the show by name and take a jab at it when the prosecuting attorney requests a preemptory challenge when a juror admits it’s his favorite TV show.
  • It was pointed out that the phrase “separation of church and state” is NOT in the Constitution.  In fact, that verbiage was written by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Baptist church, assuring them that they would be able to continue their faith under the Bill of Rights.  Ironically, that phrase means the opposite today.
  • It’s nice to see Pat Boone again.
  • Mike Huckabee plays himself in the movie.
  • The Newsboys sings in this movie, just like in the first one.
  • At the end of the movie, audiences are given a call to action…literally.  They’re invited to text the following testimony to everyone they know: “God’s not dead.  He’s surely alive.”  #The HumanRight
  • Before the closing credits roll, a long list of real cases that took place in the fight for religious freedom are shown on the screen.  While this particular story in the movie is fictional, these kinds of cases have been going on for years.  I noticed that many of the cases on the screen showed they had received the help from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I got a kick out of Melissa Joan Hart in Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: The Complete Series , but she lacks believable depth in this drama.  Her character’s name is Grace.  Pretty clichéd, right?
  • There are a lot of noticeable false eye-lashes.
  • Another reminder that people are so easily offended nowadays. 

Interesting lines:
  • “I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.” – Grace
  • “What makes non-violence so radical is its unwavering commitment to a non-violent approach.” - Grace
  • “We’re going to prove once and for all that God is dead.” – Pete Kane (Ray Wise)
  • “So, what do we do?” – Grace
“We win.” – Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe)
  • “If we stand by and do nothing, the pressure we feel today is the persecution we’ll feel tomorrow.” – Rev. Dave
  • “A nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” – government guy  
  • “I’m not afraid of telling the truth.  I’m only afraid of not being able to tell it” – Brooke
  • “The teacher is always quiet during the test.” – Pat Boone

Real books mentioned in the movie:

Tips for parents:   

  • Most children will be bored and not able to sit through the long court scenes.
  • No profanity.

Other books Christians might like:


Friday, April 8, 2016

Midnight Special is a hidden gem

Movie Title:      Midnight Special

Grade:   A-

Rating:   PG-13, 1 hour 40 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This sci-fi surprise is a fun road trip mystery.    Indie director Jeff Nichols is a compelling storyteller that allows the audience time to figure out what is going on while the film races along.  I really like it when a director doesn’t spoon-feed the audience.  As the plot unfolds, you’ll see magical elements of E.T.,The Extra-Terrestrial , Close Encounters Of The Third Kind , and even Starman .

Marketing for this film was minimal, so this little gem may pass you buy. 

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Sometimes we’re asked to do things that are beyond us.” – electrician
  • Sacrifice for those you love
  • Family, parental bonds of unconditional love
  • Trying to understand one’s true identity

Things I liked:
  • There are some cool special effects, like when the satellite debris hits the ground and sprays all over a gas station, as well as other things Alton can do.
  • Good for Adam Driver for having 2 movies out in theaters at the same time.  Yep, he plays Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Plus Bonus Features) .  Nope, he doesn’t throw a tantrum in this film.
  • Jaeden Lieberher is adorable and does a great job playing Alton.
  • The effective musical score adds suspense from beginning to end.
  • There’s an interesting element that refers to a savior and a heavenly plane: higher beings who watch over us, but we can’t see them.  You get to see the beings of light, sort of, who are peaceful and good….kind of angelic.
  • It’s impressive how much can be done with such a low budget.
  • Michael Shannon is captivating as a devoted father who will do anything for his son.

Things I didn’t like:
  • We haven’t seen Kirsten Dunst in a while.  She wears no make-up and has gained some weight, playing a devoted mother.  I guess it really has been a long time since that upside down kiss with Spider-Man .
  • SPOILER: The buildup is fun and mysterious, but then it simply ends in a clichéd car chase.

Funny lines:
  • “Is it too much to ask you to punch me in the face? No? Never mind.” – Paul Sevier
  • “Could we go back to Texas now?” - Lucas

Interesting lines:
  • “The only thing I ever believed in was Alton” – Roy (Michael Shannon)
  • “You don’t have to worry about me.” – Alton
“I like worrying about you.” – Roy

Tips for parents:   

  • It might be a little too mature and intense for young children.  Older teens will enjoy watching the story unfold as they find out who/what Alton Meyer is.
  • Some profanity and violence.
  • Discussion of cults and faith.
  • A really bad car accident roughs up some people, but they don’t die.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 revisits fans with mixed reviews

Movie Title:      My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 

Grade:   C

Rating:   PG-13, 1 hour 34 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Produced by Tom Hanks, this sequel features the wacky Greek family we fell in love with in 2002.  Opa!  

Fans will get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters again, but viewers new to the story won’t get to see the original charm and freshness that was in the first one.
Uplifting theme: 
  •  “You walk through your life and see your shadow as two people.” – Gus
  • Marriage, forgiveness, love, romance, family 

Things I liked:
  • I’ll have to remember that “pull my neck back” trick for taking photos.
  • There’s a cute scene when Toula tries to teach her dad how to use a computer.  Yeah, we’ve all been there.
  • There is some good physical humor by several characters, but Nia Vardolos does it best.
  • John Legend's song “All of me” plays during a sweet wedding scene.  It's touching, but not quite enough to evoke any tears out of the audience.
  • Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks’ wife in real life, is seen singing at the wedding.  She really did start singing with a band recently.
  • Gus tries to research his family’s roots to prove he is related to Alexander the Great.   Did you now you can do it for free at ?  It’s the largest genealogy site in the world!
  • John Corbett is still handsome and charming, but we don't get to see him very much in the story.
  • SPOILER:  Joey Fatone embraces his inner Greek and another man.  Writer Nia Vardalos includes a short character line towards the end of the movie to raise a toast to the gay community and explains that she wanted to put a little message of acceptance into her film.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I really like Toula's character, but it’s sad to see her without much confidence, even after 14 years.  Luckily, you see some growth towards the end of the movie.
  • Paris (the teenage daughter) is a mopey goth and completely unappealing at the beginning of the movie.  There is no real event that causes her transformation, but suddenly, she loses the dark eyeliner and emo attitude and turns into a lovely young woman.
  • It's odd how awkward and uncomfortable Toula and Ian are around each other, especially after 17 years of marriage together. 
  • Why couldn’t they have picked a different night to have the wedding than on Paris' prom night?  They weren't in any hurry and so it makes no sense, other than a contrived sequence of events.  
  • It has the same silly stereotypes as the first movie.

Funny lines:
  •  “Shut up Tommy!” – said 2 times by Paris   (I thought it would be a funny, running gag throughout the movie, but it’s only at the beginning.  Too bad.)
  • “We’re not married?  - Maria Portokalos (Lainie Kazan)
“No.” – Gus (Michael Constantine)
“And we had children?  I’m a hippie!” – Maria
  • “Greek don’t creak.”  - Aunt Voula  (Andrea Martin)
  • “You’re so Greek, we’re probably related.” – Gus
  • “The wedding planner…she fired me!” – Maria
  • “Telephone…telegram…tell a Greek.” – Greek relative lady 

Interesting lines:
  • “Why do parents always say ‘dream big’ when they really mean not too big?” – Paris 

Tips for parents:   

  • The language is clean and it is generally a good family-friendly movie.
  • There are quite a few sex jokes.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Star Wars releases a trailer for its newest movie!

The first official teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Storyarrived Thursday morning. The nearly two-minute spot reveals more of the plot line from the much-hyped spinoff, showingFelicity Jones as a Rebel spy tasked with a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star before it can be used as a weapon by the newly formed Galactic Empire. Oscar-winnerForest Whitaker also appears throughout the trailer in what appears to be a Darth Vader-like black Empire suit of armor. The film hits theaters in December 2016.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The 33 pays tribute to the Chilean miners

Movie Title:      The 33

Grade:   B

Rating:   PG-13, 2 hours

In a Nutshell:  Based on the true account of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped far below the surface of the earth, this feel-good movie shows the human spirit and the power of hope.

At the beginning of the film, we’re told that every year, 12,000 miners die from mining accidents.  This movie is a tribute to all miners, as well as The 33 who endured a horrifying ideal that captured the attention of the entire world in 2010.  If it happened today, everyone would be plastering the Chilean flag all over their Facebook profile pictures.  :)

Uplifting theme: 
  • Faith & Hope.  "Super" Mario, played by Antonio Banderas leads the miners and constantly inspires them to remainful faithful and hopeful.  At one point when some of the men begin to falter, he tells them, "I believe it, because I choose to believe it."  The only other option is despair, right?  That doesn't do anyone any good, right?
  • "Moving on!"  - Mario

Things I liked:
  • Antonio Banderas.  Men want to be him and women want to swoon over him. 
  • I loved being able to see the real miners at the end of the movie.
  • There is some decent CGI during the big cave-in scenes.  When everything has collapsed, the screen goes black and the audience sits in still darkness for almost a minute.  Then, you hear a cough.  Then, you finally see one of the headlamps of the miners.  It's a powerful scene done well.
  • It's refreshing to see a government official who truly cares. The handsome Rodrigo Santoro plays Laurence Golborne, the Minister of Mining in Chile. 
  • There is a sweet scene that shows the miners praying for the safety of their families.  That touched me, because they kept their faith and they were more concerned about their families than themselves. 
  • Smaller parts played by other actors included James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bob Gunton, and Gabriel Byrne.  The cast is actually very international, including actors from Argentina, Spain, Ireland, America, France, Chile, and more!
  • I remember watching this story on the news, so it was really interesting to see what was going on down in the mine when we were only seeing what was happening above.
  • Juliette Binoche's character sells empanadas on the street.  I watched this movie on an airplane while flying home from a trip to Panama, where their empanadas are made with corn meal flour.  I hadn't had those before.  Juliette's empanadas were the more familiar kind made from regular flour.  They looked delicious.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It’s really hard to create suspense and tension for an audience that already knows how the story ends.
  • Casting Juliette Binoche as a Chilean street vendor was a very odd choice.  Jennifer Lopez was originally cast for that role, but had to leave the film because of scheduling conflicts with her role as a judge on American Idol Season 11 Highlights .
  • There are a few cheesy, overly dramatic moments.
  • One of the miners is married with a mistress on the side.  We see the women have a cat fight over him, among other bad behavior.  I'll never understand a cheating man.  Just as bad, I'll never understand a woman who tolerates it.  The story line is supposed to provide some comic relief to the movie, but it just disgusted me.
  • There isn't as much character development as I would have liked.  We only get to know a few of the miners, while the rest remain mere faces in the crowd.

Funny lines:
  • “If we're really hungry, we can always eat the Bolivian.  I hear they taste like chicken.”  - miner
  • “Hatred is for children.” - Jose henriquez (Marco Trevino)
  •  "Elvis is in the building!" - Yonni Barrios (Oscar Nunez) 

Interesting lines:
  •  "This is why we are here.  I can taste it.  Cooper and gold." - Mario
  • "That's a big rock!" - miner                                                           "That's not a rock.  that the heart of the mountain.  She finally broke." - Mario
  • "It's not about us.  I believe we have a moral responsibility.  Thirty-three is a lot of people." - Laurence Golborn
  • "We can pray together." - Jose                                                      "I don't know the words." - Dario                                                "God doesn't care." - Jose
  • "Family is all we have." - Mario

Tips for parents:   
*   This is a family-friendly movie with no profanity.
*   Other than the initial collapse of the mine, there isn't a lot of action and so, young children may become bored.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Miracles from Heaven encourages Christians not to lose their faith

Movie Title:     Miracles From Heaven

Grade:   B

Rating:   PG, 1 hour 49 minutes

In a Nutshell:    Based on true events, this inspiring story is geared towards Christians who sometimes struggle with their faith when when hard times come. 

Jennifer Garner plays Christy Beam, who explains, “A miracle is defined as something not explicable by natural or scientific laws.  But then, how do you explain it?  How does it happen?  Who or what is behind it?”  

Uplifting theme: 
  • “It’s alright, Mom.  Not everyone is going to believe.  They’ll get there when they get there.” – Anna Beam
  • Albert Einstein said there are only two ways of looking at life: one is as though nothing is a miracle and the other is though everything is a miracle.
  • “Miracles are goodness. Miracles are God.  Miracles are God’s way of letting us know He is here.” – Christy
  • Faith is peace.

Things I liked:
  • Jennifer Garner does a wonderful job as a faithful mother.  I felt her pain.  She made me weep. Since filming this faith-based movie, she has become more vocal about her own Christian beliefs.
  • It's interesting how a tree provides healing, like the symbolism of the biblical tree of life.
  • It’s always a pleasure to see Queen Latifah. 
  • The mom has a sweet tradition of going into each of her daughter’s bedrooms at night to ask them if they want to share any of their prayers with her.  They chat about what’s on their hearts and what they talked to God about.
  • I can relate to a mother who fiercely fights for her children.  Doctors don’t know everything.  I loved it when the mom refused to accept the various doctors’ diagnoses, because she knew that something was wrong.  Mothers know their children better than anyone.  Thank God...literally...for mothers.
  • You get to see parts of beautiful Boston.  I love that city!
  • I was touched by the many good people that came into the Beam family’s life just when they needed supportive friends the most.  We can be there for each other.  We need to be there for each other.
  • At the end of the movie, you get to see video clips of the real Beam family who experienced this story.
  • How wonderful to have such a loving, kind caregiver as Dr. Nurko, played by Eugenio Derbez.  He reminded me of the lovable Patch Adams played by Robin Williams.
  • The lovely Kylie Rogers plays Anna Beam.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing her in many more movies.  She did a great job.
Things I didn’t like:
  • The film is a bit slow moving.
  • I'm simply dumbfounded that there are still Christians in the world today who think that if God doesn’t heal a person that it means someone has sinned.  
  • It would be nice if we just had to have enough faith and then everything would be OK.  Sometimes things don’t work out. it's not as picture perfect and our challenges aren't always wrapped up neatly in a pretty bow. Here’s the deal though…we still need to have faith.
  • I wish we could have seen more about Anna's experience in heaven.  I have always been fascinated with “Near Death Experiences.”  This story reminded me a lot of the movie Heaven is for Real , which was produced by the same peeps.  You can read my movie review for that film here.
  • The movie preaches a little bit to the choir, but that’s OK.
  • A lot movie critics hate this movie.  Sure, it's not a big blockbuster with mind-blowing action and CGI.  Yes, it's cheesy and preachy.  So.  It's nice to have a simple faith-building option in the theater.

Interesting lines:
  •  “Why do you think God hasn’t healed me?” – Anna
“There are so many things I don’t know.  But I do know that God loves you.” – Christy
  • “We need a solution and we need it now.” – Christy
“We’ll get it.” –  Kevin Beam
“Oh, yeah?  How?” – Christy
“By not losing our faith.” – Kevin Beam (Martin Henderson)

Inspiring lines:
  • “There’s a common phrase: No pain, no gain.  And it is, of course, attributed to the sculpting of our bodies, but the same principle can be applied to the sculpting of our character and the deepening of our spiritual life.” – Pastor Scott
  • Faith is really the only true shelter.” – Pastor Scott
  • Just because things aren’t ok, doesn’t mean there isn’t a loving God.” – Pastor Scott
  • Christy and Kevin Beam always tell each other “It’s a good life.”   Studies show that if we’re grateful and positive, we will see the good in our lives and actually feel happier.
  • “You either roll with it, or you get rolled on.” – Angela (Queen Latifa)
Funny lines:
  • “You know you could go to hell for swearing.” – Abby Beam“I’m not going to hell!  Hell is in California.” -  Adelyn Beam

Tips for parents:   

  • There’s a scene where a bunch of people are outside at a BBQ.  It shows everyone having a great time socializing, and then it scans past a table of teenage girls who are all on their cell phones, ignoring one another as they text other friends.    Ask your kids if they noticed it and use that opportunity to talk about cell phone etiquette. 
  • No profanity.
  • This is definitely a family-friendly film.
  • Death, pain, and suffering are big topics.
If you'd like to learn more about the Beam family's experience, you can read it in: