Nothing captures hearts much more than cute, cuddly-looking, animal babies and their families. G-rated movies are rare these days in theaters; but this week on Friday, April 21, the captivating, heart-grabbing documentary, Born in China, comes out in theaters as a crowd pleaser for all ages. It follows three families of pandas, snow leopards, and snub-nosed monkeys in their fascinating behaviors and antics, along with shaggy yaks, beautiful cranes, and small antelopes. The featured animals are given names that appeal especially to children, although natural lessons of survival are part of the story.
The movie first introduces a female snow leopard preparing on a harsh, snowy, mountainside a place to bear and raise her cubs. The movie also follows an adolescent snub-nosed monkey from his birth family to joining a roving group of maturing males dubbed, “the lost boys.” A panda teaches her cub to swim, climb, and forage for bamboo. An expectant antelope participates in a migration of capering antelopes to raise her young in a safe environment.
The gorgeous cinematography in Born in China presents a range of landscapes, which includes lush forests, broad plains, and rocky mountains. Fandango provides behind-the-scenes video and You Tube presents other video features for Born in China. Good family movies like Born in China entertain but also positively enrich, educate, and edify.
Box Office Mojo indicates this week that other top pick family movies lead at the box office in the following order: The Case for Christ, The Lego Batman Movie, Hidden Figures, Sing, and Moana.
The captivating narrative of the new movie The Case for Christ is based on the true story of the award-winning journalist and avowed atheist Lee Strobel, and takes place in 1980 when his investigative reporting earned him a promotion to legal editor at the Chicago Tribune. At the same time his career was taking off, his home life became a battle zone when his wife Leslie – who had been an agnostic – found faith in Christ.
Applying his well-honed journalistic and legal skills, Lee set out on a mission to disprove the newfound Christian faith of his wife. The result was unexpected and life-altering. See Sonoma Christian Home’s exclusive interview with Lee and Leslie Strobel.
The movie The Case for Christ is a must-see film for everyone who has ever pondered the existence of God, or the evidence related to the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lee, who earned a law degree from Yale Law School, used his legal experience and training as a former courtroom analyst to thoroughly study and build a case to discredit the deity of Jesus. Employing historical, personal, and medical records of evidence of the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, Lee “cross-examined” a dozen leading experts with doctorates from schools such as Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis, who are recognized authorities in their fields. His careful research and scrutiny led him to stunning conclusions and results. This movie is appropriate for middle-schoolers through adults.
The Lego Batman Movie has been at top of the box office, since its release. It is PG-rated but appropriate for all ages. It has good themes about the value of family, love, humility, relationships, changing bad behavior, and more.
A good example of a movie that entertains but also edifies, enriches, educates, and enlightens, while persisting at the top of the box office the last week of March, is Hidden Figures. It has earned many SAG, Movieguide ®, and Oscar honors, and is based on an amazing true story about an outstanding team of African-American women during the American Civil Rights Movement and Space Race of the 1960’s. It is primarily about these brilliant women who provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space mission.
As the United States races against Russia to put a man in space, NASA finds incredible talent in a group of female mathematicians who serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Hidden Figures is based on the incredible real-life stories of three of these women, known as “human computers.”
These women wisely, boldly, and quickly rise in the ranks of NASA, alongside many of history’s greatest minds. They are specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit and guaranteeing his safe return.
Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) cross all gender, race, and professional boundaries, as their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race firmly places them in the history of heroes.
Hidden Figures has many outstanding elements: amazing true story set in fascinating and sad history; good acting; effective use of humor and romance; character role models (of perseverance, humility, determination, and faith); inspiring Christian church, family, community support, and more.
The three female leads are engaging, captivating, and delightful in their performances. Hidden Figures features Kevin Costner as Al Harrison, Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell, and other notable actors.
Hidden Figures, which is PG-rated, is most appropriate for teens through adults due to its subject matter. Unfortunately, the hard-core administrator, Al Harrison, has one line early in the movie in which he takes our Lord’s name in vain. There are also honest, historic depictions of harsh treatment to African-Americans. Fortunately, the movie shows the growth of harsh figures towards respect.
However, the movie focuses on the gracious, strong, and overcoming spirits of the women at NASA and those who support them. This movie is inspirational, redemptive, and hopeful.
Sing (PG, all ages), a delightful, animated musical comedy, is about a Koala Bear named Buster Moons who puts on a singing competition at his failing theater. Sing is appropriate for all ages. It has positive themes that include the value of hard work, perseverance, using one’s passions and gifts, positive family relationships, and overcoming fear. (It has a few light crude elements.)
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana continues strong in the box office going into March. It is an amazing animated, action-packed movie with realistically fast-moving water in an ocean adventure story. Most importantly, Moana is also about love for and commitment to family, friends, and community. A significant theme is about social responsibility. Moana is a good role model for young people.
The sweeping CG-animated fantasy adventure based on Polynesian folklore and legends, follows the heroic journey of a Polynesian teenage girl to save Polynesian life and culture from annihilation.
Drawn to the ocean (which guides and protects her as an anthropomorphic character), Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) convinces the comedic demigod (half god, half human) Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson-Fast and Furious 6, San Andreas) to join her with her comedic sidekick on her mission as she bravely battles to save her people.
Reluctantly Maui helps Moana on her quest to be a master wayfinder as they voyage across the open ocean encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds to save the Polynesian Islands.
This is a delightful, entertaining movie for older children through adults. Read the interview with key animator, Mark Henn, on Sonoma Christian Home about the latest in the meticulous animation process Disney uses for this movie. The DVD is now available, as well as Blu-Ray and VOD! The film was released on DVD March 7th, 2017, and online (streaming) in February.
The top family pick for movies in theaters this week for all ages is Born in China. The top redemptive pick for movies in theaters this week for middle-schoolers through adults is The Case for Christ. Another top pick redemptive, family movie for all ages is Hidden Figures. Other best picks for families and all ages for movies in theaters are Moana and Sing.
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard.
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