The Renaissance of artistry and Reformation of content continues in movies. Further, as demonstrated by Movieguide’s recent 2017 Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry, family-friendly movies have more staying and earning power than less family-friendly movies. (Movieguide ® has consistently found these kinds of results in its ongoing analysis of the content of movies and their office numbers since 1991.)
Furthermore, Movieguide ®, along with Sonoma Christian Home, Plugged In, and Dove, provide online reviews and information to readers to assist them in sorting out traditional and Biblical concepts of family and morality from contemporary, non-traditional, non-Biblical concepts of family and morality in movies. Many movies that seem family-friendly in their promotions, upon closer look, are not family and morality friendly in traditional, Biblical terms. Frequently movies that seem to glitter as family-friendly, turn out to be no more than Fools’ Gold and lead in harmful directions.
There is an ongoing and growing need for research and discernment in selection of movies (and TV programs). Before selecting a movie, it is wise to research the content of the movie, as well as the track record companies and their subsidiaries that produced the movie. For example, Disney has many holdings and its Disneynature documentaries are among the more appropriate for all ages than movies by some of Disney’s other companies.
A top pick movie the second week of May is Born in China. This is a rare G-rated movie, that 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. Although this captivating, heart-grabbing movie is a real-life documentary, the featured animals are given names that appeal especially to children, even though 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 YouTube presents other video features for Born in China. Good family movies like Born in China entertain but also positively enrich, educate, and edify.
Another top pick movie the second week of May is the captivating narrative drama, The Case for Christ. It is produced by Pure Flix, which is another company with a solid track record of producing excellent movies with redemptive content for all ages, as well as ever-improving artistry. 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 in-depth 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
A good example of a movie that entertains but also edifies, enriches, educates, and enlightens, while persisting at the top of the box office, is Hidden Figures. It is another top pick movie for the second week of May. Hidden Figures 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, and support.
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. 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.
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. However, the movie shows the growth of harsh figures towards respect. Fox 2000, a producer for Hidden Figures, has a mixed record of movies with appropriate content for families.
Another good pick for the second week of May is Sing (PG, all ages), a delightful, animated musical comedy 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.) This movie is produced by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures that both have with their affiliates a mixed track record of appropriate and inappropriate movies for families.
Born in China, The Case for Christ, Hidden Figures, and Sing demonstrate how good family movies prevail over time in theaters and in other formats. As we enter the second week in May, the best family movies for appropriate content and artistry prevail in theaters. Box Office Mojo lists these best uplifting choices at the top of the box office in the following order: Born in China, The Case for Christ, Hidden Figures, and Sing. The first two are produced by movie companies with a more solid track record of appropriate movies for families. The second two are produced by movie companies with more mixed track records of appropriate and inappropriate content for families.
The top redemptive pick for movies in theaters for the second week in May for middle-schoolers through adults is The Case for Christ. The top family pick for movies in theaters this week for all ages is Born in China. Another top pick redemptive, family movie for all ages is Hidden Figures. Another best pick for families and all ages for movies in theaters is Sing.
There are also other “family” movies in theaters that have undesirable language, situations, and philosophies. Therefore, caution is advised and research encouraged before making any choices for movies you and yours see.
The Bible tells us to be gentle and to think on the following: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and anything excellent or praiseworthy.
More good family and redemptive movies due in theaters in the months and years ahead. Don’t settle for less than the best for yourself, your family, and your friends. See and support only the best.
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard