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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: September 15, 2016.

Many families love to spend a Saturday afternoon at the movies. But it’s often a struggle to discern exactly which films are family-appropriate, so SCH has done some of the research for you sharing the top box office family movies.

Mojo Box Office reports on Sept. 9 that the movie ‘Sully’ opens at the top of the box office. Movies with universal, redemptive themes that have family values with skilled, notable, top actors, directors, cinematographers, as well as writers, will generally go to the top of the of box office and will demonstrate staying power.

Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood brings another real-life, inspiring, heroic story to theaters with Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ ‘Sully’. The top box office movie features Oscar winner Tom Hanks as the everyman heroic captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Seven years after 9/11, the world saw the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger glided his disabled plane onto the cold Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, as Sully was heralded by the public and the media for his unbelievable and unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an ongoing investigation developed that threatened to destroy his reputation and career.

Mowgli with a wolf, from 'Jungle Book' 2016.
Tom Hanks is outstanding in this movie. Comic relief throughout is refreshing. Although there are necessary flashbacks, the story keeps moving in intensity and moves towards an unexpected climactic point full of jeopardy and then into a heartwarming turning point and resolution. It is uplifting to see a dangerous airplane story from NYC’s recent history in which no lives are lost. Further, due to the persistence of Capt. Sullenberger to uncover the truth, no ongoing serious harm is done to anyone.

Although this movie is most appropriate for adults with its PG-13 rating for peril and brief strong language (which diminishes the movie somewhat), it is a feel-good, inspiring movie that has unexpected suspense despite the fact that it ends up presenting good news about a real “everyman” hero. It is wonderful to see these types of Tom Hanks, Sully Sullenberger feel-good, good news movies about real everywoman and everyman heroes.

Other redemptive, uplifting, inspiring family movies in theaters include the following: ‘Ben-Hur’, ‘Greater’, ‘Pete’s Dragon’, ‘The Secret Lives of Pets’, ‘Finding Dory’, and ‘The Jungle Book’. ‘Ben-Hur’ is an updated version of the classic novel ‘Ben-Hur: The Tale of the Christ’. It takes place during the last days of Christ in which Jesus Christ interacts with a young Jewish nobleman, Ben-Hur, before and after his betrayal by his brother. Ben-Hur and his family are betrayed by adopted son Messala.

Judah Ben-Hur spends five years as a Roman ship galley slave but escapes after a ship battle. Trained by Ilderim (Morgan Freeman), Judah Ben-Hur prepares for a chariot race to defeat his brother Messala, now a Roman leader. Following the harrowing chariot race, Judah and his family are redeemed and restored after he encounters the Christ once more as he forgives all, as he dies on the cross. This movie is PG-13 due to violence but has no perverse elements. It is appropriate for teens through adults.

‘Greater’ is based on another amazing, underdog true football story. ‘Greater’ is about Brandon Burlsworth. Brandon is considered one the greatest walk-on, non-scholarship players in college football history. In his small hometown, Burlsworth is mostly known for his horn-rimmed glasses and genuine nature. With the support of his older brother, Marty, and their struggling single mom, Barbara, Brandon walks on to the Arkansas Razorback team in 1994. He succeeds in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

By the end of his college career, he is not only a star in the SEC, but a 1st Team All-American and an early pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft. Writer/producer Brian Reindl says “Brandon’s dedication and work ethic are the stuff of legends…’Doing things the Burls Way’ is still considered the gold standard of character and determination in Arkansas.” This movie is rated PG. It has some college-age and locker room language behavior but is redemptive and appropriate for teens through adults.

Scene from 'Ben-Hur'. Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Inc. Opening weekend at the box office.

Scene from ‘Ben-Hur’. Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Inc. Opening weekend at the box office.

‘Pete’s Dragon’ is a Disney live-action movie with some interesting special effects. This movie has great heart, although it does not have quite the cinematographic impact of recent live action movies ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Jungle Book’. Robert Redford, as wood carver Mr. Meacham brings warm, captivating acting to the movie. His daughter Grace works as a forest ranger. The mysterious 10-year-old Pete has no family or home but comes into Meacham’s and Grace’s lives.

This fantasy family movie with no foul elements has many redemptive themes: value of the traditional and extended family; angels in disguise (Elliot the dragon is Pete’s guardian angel); needing eyes to see wonders; the need to protect the innocent; value of loyalty and more. This movie is rated PG and is appropriate for older children through adults.

‘The Secret Lives of Pets’ is an animated comedy about what pets do alone at home and in their adventures when they are lost. It has some animal potty humor but no perverse elements. It is rated PG but is appropriate for all ages. It is an entertaining, redemptive family movie with moral themes. ‘Finding Dory’ is about Dory finding her biological family. This PG movie is delightfully entertaining for all ages. It has no perverse elements and has moral themes.

Finally, ‘Jungle Book’ is another live action Disney movie about the laws of the jungle as Mowgli grows up with a family of caring wolves and with his bear companion, Baloo, whose voice is delightfully performed by Bill Murray. This movie also has redemptive moral themes. It is rated PG and is appropriate for children through adults.

Thus, the top redemptive family movie picks in theaters for the third week in September are the following: ‘Ben-Hur’, ‘Greater’, ‘Pete’s Dragon’, ‘The Secret Lives of Pets’, ‘Finding Dory’, ‘The Jungle Book’, and ‘Sully’. It is important to see movies like these in theaters, especially the first weekend of their release to ensure their success and to encourage more movies like them.



For more information about the author please visit Diane Howard.

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