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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: November 16, 2017.

The top pick movie for the third week of November is The Star. This delightful Christmas movie is appropriate for the whole family and tells the story of the birth of Christ from the perspective of the animals in the story, especially that of the underdog little donkey Bo, who develops as a hero.

With excellent, charming animation, the voices are entertaining and engaging. As it tells the story of the birth of our Savior, it conveys valuable lessons of persistence, friendship, and true purpose. It demonstrates the truth that good overcomes evil, even through underdogs.  It is a lovely movie that portrays the story of the greatest Christmas gift of all!

Also coming to theaters this Friday, November 17th, is the movie Wonder. Based on the New York Times bestseller by the same title, it tells the inspiring, hopeful, and heartwarming story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), who has facial deformities. In the movie, he enters the fifth grade to attend an elementary school for the first time, after homeschooling with his mother, played by Oscar Award-winning actress Julia Roberts.

The movie follows Auggie’s first year in school from his perspective and that of those around him.  While it discourages bullying, the movie encourages seeing others beyond external appearances, having quality friendships, and showing compassion. It is a family movie but there is some brief, mostly light, foul language.

It is a delightful, entertaining, uplifting movie that is suitable for older children through adults. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson (Auggie’s father), Izabela Vidovic (Auggie’s sister, Via), Mandy Patinkin (Auggie’s school principal), and Jacob Tremblay (Auggie) give endearing performances.

'The Star' movie comes to theaters nationwide November 17th

‘The Star’ movie comes to theaters nationwide November 17th. Photo Courtesy Sony Pictures

A top pick movie for one night, November 16th, scheduled for select theaters is Genesis 3D: Paradise Lost. This G-rated movie for all ages is presented by Fathom Events, Creation Today and Sevenfold Films. In this film the book of Genesis comes to life on the big screen using stunning visual effects and scientific research to dive into the history and context of the book of Genesis. Movieguide says, that this documentary is not only incredibly beautiful, convincing but that it exposes “…the fallacies in Darwinian and other humanist creation speculations…showing how logical the biblical creation account is.”

Hope continues to shine into our hurting, dark world in other top pick movies for the third week of week of November. Let There Be Light, about an alcoholic atheist, tells the story of Sol Harkins who is mourning the death of his son. Because he is bitter and angry with God, Sol enjoys writing books that mock belief in God, especially Christian belief.

However, at a party for his new book, Sol becomes very drunk. As he drives his fancy car home, he crashes and has a near-death experience in which he sees his son alive and happy. His son repeatedly says to him, “Let there be light.” This experience challenges Sol to reconsider his beliefs and actions. This engaging, inspiring movie is directed by Kevin Sorbo and produced by Sean Hannity. Kevin and his wife, Sam, who is also a writer, are lead actors for this captivating film.

Same Kind of Different as Me is also a not-to-miss, timely major movie about compassion and kindness. It features the skillful performances of Academy Award® nominee Greg Kinnear, Academy Award® winner Renée Zellweger, Academy Award® nominee Djimon Hounsou, and Academy Award® winner Jon Voight.

I had the privilege of participating in interviews with Ron Hall, author/writer; Greg Kinnear, Rene Zellweger; Jon Voight. Djimon Hounsou, and director Michael Carney in LA this past weekend. They are all Christian believers who are committed to serving and restoring the homeless.  These actors are Academy Award winners/nominees who bring genuine heart to this story! Here, you can hear their hearts from the interviews about the main issue of homelessness in the movie. The true story upon which this movie is based is amazing and timely.

This engaging and inspiring Paramount Pictures and PureFlix movie is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and is appropriate for teens and adults.  It is based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent.  This uplifting movie provides solutions to today’s challenges of racial and socioeconomic divides and of homelessness.

The film presents a remarkable true story about the transforming power and importance of the following: compassion, faith, family, friendship, kindness, unconditional love, and forgiveness. Audiences are sure to find inspiration to “Make A Difference” in the lives of others because as Denver would say—everyone can help someone.

The movie, Same Kind of Different as Me, based on a true story and subsequent New York Times bestseller, is about international art dealer Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear), who befriends a homeless man (Denver played by Djimon Hounsou), in hopes of saving his struggling marriage to Debbie (Renée Zellweger). Debbie’s dreams will lead all three of them on a remarkable journey. Hall’s father, played by Jon Voight, will also be transformed and reconciled by the relationships of Ron, Debbie, and Denver.

Bo (Steven Yuen) and Dave (Keegan-Michael Key) in Sony Pictures Animation's THE STAR.

Bo (Steven Yuen) and Dave (Keegan-Michael Key) in Sony Pictures Animation’s THE STAR. Photo Courtesy Sony Pictures

Another heartfelt, hopeful family movie, The Stray, is about Mitch Davis and his family. Mitch is a workaholic executive for a big studio in Hollywood with a passion to become a screenwriter. His son, Christian, is being bullied at school and desperately wants his father’s attention and time. Mitch does not understand his son’s needs. A stray dog helps Christian fight off a bully. The family adopts the dog, whom they name Pluto. Mitch takes Christian, Pluto, and two other boys on a trip to the Colorado mountains where they encounter a threatening storm.

This movie is based on a true story artistically directed by the real Mitch Davis, who lived to tell his tale of being struck by lightning. This PG movie is for the entire family, although the storm may be scary for little children. This entertaining movie teaches valuable lessons such as forgiveness, sacrifice, and trust in God.

Many other redemptive, family movies are prevailing at the top of the box office the third week of November. Among these outstanding films is A Question of Faith. In this powerful work, three families are struck with tragedy that intertwines them, but sets them free collectively and personally. There are twists and surprises that bring hope to audiences. In the converging, growing, deepening journey, the characters find and experience God’s love, grace, and mercy in their deepest places, and resurrection of their personal and collective faith. This movie is especially inspiring in a time such as this.

Among other top picks remaining in theaters is Dunkirk. This riveting movie inspires courage and compassion with its true story of sacrifice and grit as individuals risk their own lives in water rescues manned by volunteers and professionals to save others in harm’s way. This has been a top pick movie at the box office for adults since its release the third week of July.

Personal and corporate courage and compassion as people serve, sacrifice, and save strangers and communities, revealing the best in people in the worst of times, is a recurring and inspiring theme in the true stories in top pick movies, as it is today in our real lives.

The courageous and compassionate efforts of people in the U.S. and around the world in response to hurricanes, fires, and tropical storms have been inspiring. Likewise, the true stories of courage and compassion in current movies in theaters is also encouraging.

Dunkirk immerses audiences in the harrowing, heroic, amazing events of 1940, when Germany trapped Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk, France.  Under skilled air and ground cover from British and French forces, British crews and boats, including civilian, courageously, carefully, and safely evacuated 330,000 French, British, Belgian, and Dutch soldiers from the beaches.

This powerful, thrilling movie (rated PG-13) is most suited for adults, due to intense war violence, although there is little that is gratuitous or inappropriate in terms of language or behavior. The courage, sacrifice, and camaraderie of soldiers and civilians is deeply inspirational.

'Wonder' hits theaters 11/17 and stars veteran actors Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

‘Wonder’ hits theaters 11/17 and stars veteran actors Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. Photo Courtesy Lionsgate

The acting and cinematography is outstanding. Although the dialogue is often difficult to understand, the action speaks for itself. In this movie, everyman and everywoman role models and heroes are significant in their positive potential influence on viewers. Research provides evidence that those who observe and identify with role models are significantly influenced by the role models for good. Those who role model compassion, sacrifice, and courage can inspire it in others, as we are seeing played out in real life currently in flood rescues.

Although not depicted in the movie, it is also noteworthy that a National Day of Prayer that was declared on May 26 for the soldiers trapped at Dunkirk. People from all walks of life came to British churches to pray. It was this call to prayer that compelled many civilians to bring their boats to Dunkirk to help save the courageous. A unifying National Day of Prayer was also declared on September 3, 2017 for the rescue and recovery work in the Houston, Texas region.

There were miraculous answers to prayer for Dunkirk.  First, Hitler stopped the advance of his armored columns at the very point when they could have proceeded to annihilate the British army. Second, a huge storm over Flanders on May 28 grounded the German Luftwaffe squadrons and enabled the British army formations eight to twelve miles from Dunkirk, to move up on foot to the coast in the dark and rain of storm. Third, the English Channel was amazingly calm as the vast armada of little ships, big ships, and warships rescued the stranded soldiers.

The British were so grateful for the great deliverance at Dunkirk that June 9 was appointed as a Day of National Thanksgiving. The Daily Telegraph published C. B. Mortlock’s article in which he stated, “…the prayers of the nation were answered…the God of hosts himself had supported the valiant men of the British Expeditionary Force.”

Another movie based on a true British story that is at the top of the box office is Good-Bye Christopher Robin (PG). This film provides a behind-the-scenes look at the historical and family context of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The audience observes the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin. Christopher’s toys inspire the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. As Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the book, the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War.

A movie for kids, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, remains in theaters. This PG-rated, animated, action-adventure movie is the third movie in the LEGO movie series. It’s based on the LEGO Ninjago sets and also features characters from the LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV program.

The story is about Lloyd (James Franco), a teen misfit who suffers at school because his absentee father – who is the evil warlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) – constantly threatens his home, Ninjago City. However, Lloyd’s secret is that he is the Green Ninja. Lloyd and his friends, who are also secret ninja, constantly save the city from Garmadon. However, during a battle, a terrible monster is unleashed on the city. Led by Master Wu (Jackie Chan), Lloyd, and his friends embark on a perilous journey and learn to trust their power.

The LEGO “Ninjago” franchise has some Eastern mysticism and occult elements in its TV and toys versions; but the comical, new animated movie is basically free of such problematic, objectionable content. The plot of the movie has a strong, family, moral premise about reconciliation of a son with his father and reunion with the boy’s mother and father. It is a movie with a lot of heart, fun action, and comedy.

Kids who have liked the previous The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, who have watched LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, or who have played with any of the toys, will like this movie.  Adults will like references to the 1980’s. The young ninjas are warriors by night and ordinary teens by day. This movie is appropriate for older children through adults.

Further remaining at the top of the box office, Despicable Me 3, which is PG-rated, has some light crude elements and lots of cartoon violence, but is moral and redemptive as it celebrates faith and family in the midst of action-packed adventures. It has no foul language.  Gru, wife Lucy, and their three adorable daughters (Margo, Edith, and Agnes) along with the Minions and Gru’s twin brother, Dru (both twins are skillfully voiced by Steve Carrell), are involved with fast-paced adventures filled with heart and satirical humor for all ages. Despicable Me 3 (PG-13) is suitable for older children through adults.

It takes effort and research to find good movies with worthwhile values through good reviews from trustworthy, wise sources (Sonoma Christian Home, Movieguide, Focus on the Family, Dove and more). Uniquely, each week Sonoma Christian Home not only provides reviews of worthwhile family movies, but it also publishes the top picks in movies in theaters for all ages that are not only entertaining, but they are redemptive, of good quality, and inspirational.

The top pick movies for the third week of November include the following:  Genesis 3D: Paradise Lost ( G-rated) for all ages; The Star (PG) for all ages; Wonder (PG) for older children through adults;  Let There Be Light (PG-13) that is suitable for older children through adults; Same Kind of Different as Me (PG-13) which is appropriate for teens and adults;  A Question of Faith (PG) appropriate for older children through adults; The Stray (PG) for the entire family; Good-Bye Christopher Robin (PG) that is suitable for older children and adults; and Dunkirk (PG-13) which is suitable for older teens and adults. Other movies for families are Despicable Me 3 (PG-13), which is appropriate for older children through adults, and The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which is suitable for older children through adults.

In weeks ahead for this year, there are many more promising family and redemptive movies for various ages. Although release dates can change, this what we know about the promising movies coming in theaters yet this year:  Roman Israel, Esq. (for older teens through adults), November 22 (for wide release); The Man Who Invented Christmas, November 22; Ferdinand, December 15; and The Greatest Showman, December 25.

Remember to research movies before you see them. Hold out for the best. What we see in movies affects our personal lives, our families, and our culture.  Support in every way you can, the best of family and redemptive movies, so that more like them will be made. Choose and support the best that will affect us all positively for eternal good.



To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard






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