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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: April 11, 2019.

There are some wonderful top redemptive and family picks in theaters the first weekend of April. They include the following: Palau the Movie, Amazing Grace, Unplanned, and Dumbo.

Palau the Movie is a special movie event in limited release. This is a biographical movie about the early life of Christian, Argentinian evangelist, Luis Palau.  The film begins in Argentina in 1944 when Luis goes with his father to evangelize his community. Luis’ father then passes away of pneumonia, when he 34 years of age. Not losing faith in God, Luis’ mother encourages Luis and his sister to focus on God’s goodness.

Later, in 1955, Luis, as a young man helps his mother with financial responsibilities by working at a bank. Following his father’s example, Luis reads the Scriptures over the radio and preaches in the street.  He meets Ray Steadman, a minister visiting from Palo Alto, California. The two men have coffee together, and Ray sees Luis’ spiritual zeal. Ray convinces Luis to come to the United States for seminary teaching and to be sponsored by his church’s congregation.

In 1965 in Portland, Oregon, Luis marries Patricia, as they are both studying to go into missionary work. We first encountered the Luis Palau’s family in 1969. Then, my husband Dr. David Howard and I were members with them of Cedar Mill Bible Church in Cedar Mill, Oregon. While Dave was in seminary in nearby Portland, we sponsored Luis’ sister, Ruth, and her husband, Ed Silvoso (Harvest Evangelism) when they were at Multnomah Bible School in Portland. We have followed this remarkable and wonderful family for many years.   Learn more about the Luis Palau family, their association, and the movie on their website.

Eventually, Luis and Patricia learned they would go to Cali, Columbia to begin plant churches. Because there was a communist revolution in Cali, the Palaus were concerned about their safety. However, before they moved, they attended a Billy Graham Crusade in Fresno, California.

The Palaus went to Columbia amidst unrest.  Luis had an impact with the Gospel. He was torn between evangelizing and helping the poor. Along with a group of dedicated Christians, Luis believed that evangelizing and serving the poor went together.

Luis and Patricia had a growing family.  They depended on God to meet their needs. In 1966, Luis and other evangelical pastors planned a parade in Bogota Plaza to preach the Gospel, amidst the political unrest and confusion. This movie, which has been set in the 1940-1960’s, shows the upheaval that Christian missionaries faced during communist uprisings, but how the Gospel of Jesus Christ overcame. This movie would be a wonderful addition to a church or personal movie library or collection.

Amazing Grace is a documentary which presents the live recording of Aretha Franklin’s album at The New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972. This is a long-lost concert film from 1972 features the amazing Aretha Franklin as she sings Gospel songs with the support of her band members and the Southern California Community Choir. The music in Amazing Grace includes favorite hymns like “Mary Don’t You Weep,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and, “Amazing Grace.” This film is appropriate for all ages. (The album made during the concert was became the best-selling gospel album of all time.)  Again, this movie would be a wonderful addition to a church or personal movie library or collection.

Unplanned released on Friday, March 29, in theaters across the nation, earned $6.3 million over the first weekend. This was a very strong opening, especially with the many obstacles that the movie faced, which included the following: limited release, denial of advertising on many networks and platforms; negative reviews from mainstream publications; and the “R” from the MPAA, although it is more of PG movie. As an underdog movie which multiple publications predicting that it would only open to $2-3 million, the movie’s opening weekend far exceeded expectations. This fine movie is appropriate for older children through adults. 

On Saturday morning, following the movie’s opening night, Unplanned’s Twitter account was suspended briefly. Lead actress Ashley Bratcher tweeted saying, “Trying to figure out why the @UnplannedMovie account has been suspended. We need answers. #unplannedmovie.”

Then, celebrities like Patricia Heaton and others commented on the Unplanned Twitter page’s suspension, as well as Twitter’s negligence to verify the movie. In response, Twitter restored the page. As of April 1, Unplanned surpassed Planned Parenthood’s Twitter followers.

Cary Solomon, the co-writer/director and producer of Unplanned said about the movie’s success the first weekend that there was “massive turn away at box office; not enough screens or large enough theaters.  Chains are putting us in bigger theaters and opening more screens…. God is moving His cloud of fire forward.”  For the second weekend the movie has remained at number four at the box office.

Unplanned is a film based on the true story of Abby, who works for Planned Parenthood because she thinks their goal is to prevent pregnancies. It is a well-made movie. It starts with Abby, who is now the director of the local Planned Parenthood office, asked to go into the operation room, where she has not gone before, to hold the ultrasound device so the doctor can suck out the baby. Running to the bathroom, she vomits. The movie then cuts back to how Abby as a young woman at Texas A&M from a Christian home, becomes involved with Planned Parenthood. From there, she becomes more and more involved until the movie is back to the opening scene. She eventually leaves her job and Planned Parenthood takes her to court.  Although this movie has been rated R due to its content, it is appropriate for older children through adults. Sonoma Christian Home has an interview with Ashley Bratcher who portrays Abby.

The top pick family movie, Dumbo, is a live action remake of the 1941 animated classic. This movie tells the well-loved story of the baby elephant who can fly with his big ears and is separated from his mother.  Dumbo helps to save a struggling circus but learns there are ugly secrets beneath the glamourous surface. This is a wonderful, well-made movie with themes of about the value of family and of helping others. It is directed by Tim Burton and features Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, and Danny DeVito. This PG movie is appropriate for older children through adults.

Although dates can change, here is what is known about the “what and when” of some of the most promising family and redemptive movies for a range of ages yet due in theaters in 2019:   4/9, 11, 13- Noah, 4/12- Breakthrough; 4/18-Pilgrim’s Progress; 4/19-Disneynature’s Penguins; 4/22- Bright Ones;   4/29, 30 – Kingdom Men Rising; Tolkien- 5/10; 5/24- Aladdin; 6/7- The Other Side of Heaven 2;  6/21– Toy Story 4;  6/7– Secret Lives of Pets 2;  7/29– Lion King; 8/2 –Dora the  Explorer; 8/23-Overcomer; 9/12- The Islands; 12/31- Finding Grace; and more.

Other promising movies in various stages of development and production for the future include: Passion of the Christ 2: The Resurrection; One Nation Under God; The Penitent ThiefEast Oil TexasThai RescueRoe V. WadeGigantic; CATS; Heavenquest:  Peter Pan;  The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair;  In God’s Underground; Palau the Movie;  Do You Believe 2; The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew; The Ten Commandments; King David; Pontius Pilate; Butterfly Circus; The Adventures of Tintin 2; West Side Story, You are My Friend, God Calling, Walking with Herb; Heavens to Betsy; Let Go and Let God; The Wake of Light; The Breaking PointThe Follower; Our God is Good; and more.

Please continue to search for and support the best movies for your friends and families. Be aware that the titles and trailers of some movies make them appear to be family-friendly when they are not. More and more Hollywood studios and independent ones are making better and better family movies, but there are also movies that may seem family-friendly that have politically correct themes with subtle messages that you may find incorrect or blatant language and situations that you find disturbing.

Some movie publicity makes some movies seem family-friendly; but when they are seen at a theater end up marred by foul language and other crass, inappropriate elements. All seemingly family-friendly movies are not equal in terms of family values, including superhero movies! It is critical for 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. Further, all movie review and recommendation sources are not equal. Make sure you read reviews by those you respect who have previewed movies you are considering. All movies that glitter are not gold even with cute, seemingly innocent characters or with light humor.  Buyer beware.  Make careful, informed choices. The best family movies can be entertaining, educational, and edifying.

The best is yet to come when 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 are being made. Watch for many top picks this year of redemptive movies that continue to improve in the ongoing renaissance of artistry and reformation of content in movies. Remember that the teams of good family and redemptive movies include consumers, who determine the success and wide global distribution of good family, redemptive movies. We are making good progress in encouraging major Hollywood studios to produce good family and redemptive movies, as well as supporting independent studios to do the same.

Here’s to a blessed 2019!

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

See Dr. Howard’s top picks lists on IMDb.

Edited, laid out, and published to site by Melanie S. Pickett

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