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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: July 1, 2018.

Top pick family-friendly, redemptive movies continue to provide positive summer entertainment and to demonstrate financial success with their staying power! Top picks for the last week of June/first weekend of July include the following in box office order:  Incredibles 2 (PG), for older children through adults; Solo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13) most suitable for teens through adults; Pandas (G), for all ages; Show Dogs (PG), for older children through adults; Black Panther (PG-13), for teens through adults; The Miracle Season (PG), for teens through adults; and Chappaquiddick (PG-13).

There are other movies in the theaters that may seem family-friendly but are marred by foul language and other crass, inappropriate elements. Movie posters and trailers can entice but mislead and seem appropriate for families but may not be, it is critical for the movie viewers who want uplifting, entertaining, and wholesome experiences for themselves and those they love to research movies written by trustworthy sources before they see them. All seemingly family-friendly movies are not equal in terms of family values, including superhero movies! Further, all movie review and recommendation sources are not equal. All movies that glitter are not gold even with cute, seemingly innocent characters or with seemingly light humor.  Buyer beware.  Make careful, informed choices.

Uniquely, each week Sonoma Christian Home publishes the top picks for the best choices in movies in theaters for all ages that are not only entertaining; but they are redemptive, of best value, and have quality production elements. Sonoma Christian Home also provides valuable reviews and substantive interviews for these top picks in family-friendly and redemptive movies.

Incredibles 2 is a sequel to Pixar and Disney’s classic animated movie, The Incredibles, in which the family protects civilians when a supervillain hypnotizes them to harm them. Incredibles 2 is another fun, exciting, family superhero movie with humor, heart, and overall moral value (there are a few inappropriate words). It is a movie for the whole family with themes of challenges of parenthood and family life; making good moral and courageous choices; and overcoming screen addictions and harm.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Solo is like an American space western about Han Solo, a character from the Star Wars saga. This movie is about Han Solo’s first adventures, which include how he first encountered future copilot Chewbacca, how he first met Lando Calrissian to become owner of the Millennium Falcon space ship, and how he first became involved in space adventures before joining the Rebellion.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a heartfelt movie in which Han and Chewbacca often do the right thing as they fight for justice against totalitarian, criminal evil to protect, and liberate the oppressed and weak.

Directed by Ron Howard and produced by Lucasfilm, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second of the Star Wars anthology of films and follows the 2016 Rogue One. It is set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, as it explores the adventures of younger Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian.

Star Wars is an American epic space saga set in “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” based on the film series created by George Lucas. The series has appealed to audiences who are now of grandparent age, to current young audiences. The franchise began in 1977 with the release of the film Star Wars (with the later subtitle in 1981 of Episode IV: A New Hope. It was followed by the successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), which along with the first movie make up the original Star Wars trilogy.

A prequel trilogy was released between 1999 and 2005, which received mixed reactions and reviews.  A sequel trilogy emerged in 2015 which included Star Wars: The Force Awakens and in 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The first eight films were nominated for Academy Awards and have been commercial successes. Animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and Rogue One (2016) have been spinoff films.  In 2012, The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm and gained distribution rights to all subsequent Star Wars films, which began with the release of The Force Awakens in 2015.

Show Dogs features a charming and lovable cast of talking canines. Max the hero (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) is a rugged, loner Rottweiler NYPD police dog. Max and his human FBI partner (Will Arnett) are investigating the kidnapping of a baby panda by an underground network of illegal animal traders. They get a tip that the crime ring is planning to sell the panda at the prestigious Canini Invitational Dog Show. To go undercover and thwart the plot, macho Max must undergo a makeover with the help of a seasoned trainer (Natasha Lyonne) that includes mud baths, ballet lessons, and a Brazilian waxing. As he works with human handler Frank, Max gets in touch with his inner show dog.  He learns that trusting the help of others can sometimes be more rewarding than working alone.

Show Dogs is entertaining and comical with positive moral lessons, but be aware it does have some doggy potty humor. Themes in this movie include the following values: rule of law, loyalty, choosing right over wrong, friendship, teamwork and more. This movie first came out with some scenes which have now been removed due to protests concerning their danger to children.

Pandas (G, for all ages) continues in select IMAX® and IMAX® 3D theaters.   Pandas is a breathtaking documentary adventure and amazing experience for the whole family.

After years of success breeding captive pandas, scientists at the Chengdu Research Base in China take their work to the next stage to prepare and launch captive-born cubs for release in the wild.

This film follows a researcher, whose passion leads her to initiate a new reintroduction technique inspired by a black bear rehabilitator in rural New Hampshire. Beginning as a cross-cultural collaboration, a life-changing journey emerges for a team of scientists and one special panda named Qian Qian. (pronounced Chen Chen).

This film, captured with IMAX® cameras, follows Qian Qian as she begins an exciting new adventure into the mountains of Sichuan. She experiences nature for the first time and discovers the freedom, as well as the perils, of the wild side.

Addressing hope for reconciliation, Black Panther picturizes how to avoid, thwart and prevent evil through sharing and coordination of technology with good leaders. In the dangerous world in which we live, superhero movies with heroes of with good moral character, integrity, and self-sacrifice are popular partly because audiences want to see heroes who enable good to prevail over evil. This movie is rated PG-13, due to the violent struggles between good and evil. It is appropriate for middle schoolers-adults.

Black Panther is about Wakanda, an African nation, which has developed “vibranium,” an invaluable metal from a meteorite. Vibranium has helped Wakanda produce extremely advanced technology and civilization, which they have kept hidden from the world, as they pose as an impoverished country.

Wakanda struggles with the following universal questions and dilemmas:  Should they share what they have with those in need? If they share, will they lose control of their resources? Will those with whom they might share use their technology for evil? Is the king’s highest loyalty and duty to his nation or to humanity? If Wakanda refuses to help those they can, how will it affect Wakanda? Can Wakanda use its power and technology for the good of all, as well as for their own country?

Where the earlier American Black Panther group used power for militancy, this latest Black Panther uses technology and power for the Good of All.

The Miracle Season is another inspirational, redemptive family movie in theaters.  After the tragic death of star volleyball player Caroline “Line” Found, a team of dispirited high school girls band together under the leadership of their tough-love coach to win the state championship.

The Miracle Season is a true-life drama, in which one girl story leads her team and town to victory in volleyball.  In Iowa, the girls’ volleyball team, from Iowa City West High School, brings their community together, and Caroline Found – or “Line,” as she nicknamed herself – is their inspiration for the season.

The 17-year-old Line is a role model who is vivacious, life-loving, compassionate, and caring. She makes sure kids don’t eat alone in the lunchroom and that everyone gives their all at volleyball games. Line is the captain of the girls’ volleyball team’s captain. She helps coach Kathy “Coach Brez” Bresnahan (played by Oscar winner, Helen Hunt) rally everyone together to repeat their championship win from the previous year.

Then, as her senior year is about to begin, Line is in an accident that leaves her team, her school, and her father, Ernie (performed by Oscar winner William Hurt), heartbroken by their loss. Two weeks later, Ellyn, Line’s mother, succumbs to cancer and the grief for all seems overwhelming.

But when the team starts to wonder if they can move forward, Ernie’s strength and faith encourage them. Caroline’s best friend, Kelley Fliehler, won’t let down the girl she loved since childhood. Kelley also encourages her classmates, Coach Brez, and even the opponents the City West team faces across the net to “Live Like Line” – to never back down, never stop smiling, and always give 100 percent, even against seemingly impossible odds.  By the time their miracle season wraps up, the Iowa City Trojans help Ernie, Coach Brez, and the whole community find the strength and spirit to live like Line, which makes it The Miracle Season.

Another top pick movie, Chappaquiddick, (produced by Mark Ciardi, who also produced The Miracle Season) continues in theaters. It highlights the need for truth and true Christian virtues. This PG-13 movie is appropriate for older teens through adults.   Chappaquiddick gets beneath the spin to the facts of a critical day in the life of Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy to shine light on that darkness of the events related to that day. It is a much-needed look at political spin that covers over, whitewashes, and hides the truth.

This riveting suspense drama picturizes the events surrounding the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne, after Ted Kennedy drives his car off the infamous Chappaquiddick bridge. This movie, which gets behind the scenes to reveal the truth of these events, features Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne. The cast also includes: Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan, Clancy Brown, Taylor Nichols, Olivia Thirlby, and Bruce Dern.

This movie is based on true accounts, documented in the inquest (a judicial inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to an incident, such as a death) from the investigation in 1969. From these facts from true accounts, director John Curran and writers Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen, intimately expose the hiding of truth by political power and spin as they focus on the life of Ted Kennedy.

On July 18, 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy and campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne left a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts, heading into darkness in Kennedy’s car. There is no question that the car ended up overturned in shallow water with Kopechne trapped inside or that Kennedy waited 10 hours to report the accident. It was the tragic end of a promising life for Kopechne and the end of any presidential hopes for the senator.

Allen and Logan decided to focus on this critical week in Kennedy’s life with its historical backdrop. At this time, the country had seen the back-to-back assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968 and Bobby Kennedy in June 1968. Ted was at his brother’s side the night he was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Mary Jo Kopechne too had worked on his Bobby’s presidential campaign.  For contrasting historical context, in July of 1969, the country watched the Apollo 11 space mission on TV, which fulfilled JFK’s promise to take America to the moon. Just two days after Ted left Kopechne to die in shallow water, Neil Armstrong planted a flag on the lunar surface.

Always living in the shadow of his two more successful older brothers and now the last political hope of the Kennedy family, Ted believed that winning the presidency was his chance to redeem his brothers’ and family’s legacies, as well as securing his own. However, these desires were spectacularly and tragically stopped one fatal night in the darkness due to Ted’s own choices and behavior.

“We never wanted this to be a conspiracy movie,” Logan says.  “We pulled from objective facts to lay the groundwork—no insinuation, no innuendo, but the real truth,” adds Allen. “That’s why our collaboration with director John Curran was so successful because we shared that passion for fact-finding.”

See my interview on Sonoma Christian Home with Chappaquiddick producer Mark Ciardi (The Miracle Season, Invincible, Secretariat, The Rookie, McFarland USA… and former major league pitcher, whose company fully financed the production of Chappaquiddick).

Like Allen and Logan, Ciardi said in our interview, “…We did not want to editorialize but just tell the emotional story based on the facts.” Further, he said that the many layers of the Chappaquiddick story are what make it relatable today. “It does feel uniquely current right now, even though the story happened in 1969,” Ciardi said. Furthermore, in my interview with him, Mark Ciardi says that this movie speaks to the issues of  ”… abuse of power and gives voice to the voiceless… putting oneself in potentially dangerous situations…We must each read between lines, seek Truth, and have a rational sense of right and wrong… History repeats itself. There are consequences for our actions…The end does not justify the means…”

Top picks for the last week of June include the following in box office order:  Incredibles 2 (PG), for older children through adults; Solo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13) most suitable for teens through adults; Pandas (G), for all ages; Show Dogs (PG), for older children through adults; Black Panther (PG-13), for teens through adults; The Miracle Season (PG), for teens through adults; and Chappaquiddick (PG-13), for older teens through adults.

Although theater release dates can change, here is what is known about what and when some of the most promising redemptive and family movies are due in theaters this year: Newsies, 7/26; Christopher Robin, 8/3; Little Mermaid, 8/17;  An Interview with God, 8/20/2018;;Unbroken, Path to Redemption, 10/5; Mowgli- 10/19; Mulan, 11/2; The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, 11/2;  The Grinch, 11/9; A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War, 11/11;  Wreck-It-Ralph, 11/21; Mary Poppins Returns, 12/21; and more.

Other promising redemptive and family movies with release dates to be announced include: Heavenquest: A Pilgrim’s Progress; Indivisible; Run the Race; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair; Peter Pan; Staines; Faith, Hope, and Love; In God’s Underground; Palau the Movie; Megan’s Christmas Miracle and many more.  Watch for interviews and insightful stories for these movies on Sonoma Christian Home.

Please continue to search for and support the best movies for your friends and families. The best is yet come as long we continue to support the ongoing reformation in content and renaissance in artistry in media and movies.

As audiences continue to see good family and redemptive movies in theaters, keeping them at the top of the box office, more good movies like them will be made. Watch for many top picks this year of redemptive, Biblical and faith-based movies that continue to improve in the ongoing renaissance of artistry and reformation of content in movies. Remember that consumers can facilitate the success and wide global distribution of good redemptive movies. Remember that a movie’s success opening weekend is important. Continue to research movies before you see them and hold out for the best for you and yours.




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

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