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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: May 21, 2019.

Redemptive, Inspirational Movies Persist at the Box Office

This could be the year for inspirational films, and the box office is proving it.

Redemptive, inspirational movies persist at the box office with films like Tolkien, Breakthrough, Dumbo, Penguins, Unplanned, and The Biggest Little Farm are seizing the attention of moviegoers this spring.

Let’s start with Tolkien, a compelling biographical movie about J.R.R. Tolkien’s early life and the influences on his Middle Earth stories. It’s suitable for younger to older adults, due to the WWI images, literary elements, and more.

Tolkien uses strong cinematography and acting to present the formative years of the celebrated author’s life, as he acquires and develops friendships, inspiration, and courage among a group of young scholarly artists. Their fellowship strengthens as they grow up and struggle with love and loss together, which includes Tolkien’s challenging courtship of Edith Bratt. Tolkien overcomes and surmounts the challenges with classmates, his beloved Edith, his mentors, and WWI to write the profound tales of Middle Earth in which the characters and stories portray many Christian qualities. See my interview with the director of this fine movie on Sonoma Christian Home.

Breakthrough is based on the true story of John Smith, a 14-year-old boy, who drowned in Lake Saint Louis in January 2014 and was dead for nearly an hour. CPR was performed on John for 27 minutes to no avail in the emergency room. Then John’s adoptive mother, Joyce Smith, (played by actress Chrissy Metz), came into the emergency room, praying loudly, and defied the institutional judgment of death. Suddenly, there was a pulse. John was awakened and he walked out of the hospital without any brain, lung, or any other physical impairment. Today, John is graduating from high school and preparing to study for the ministry.

Dumbo is a live-action remake of the 1941 Disney animated classic. This movie tells the well-loved story of the baby elephant named Dumbo, who can fly with his big ears, and is separated from his mother. Dumbo saves a struggling circus but learns there are ugly secrets beneath the glamorous surface. This is a wonderful, well-made movie with themes about the value of family, perseverance, and about helping others to overcome the intense evil lusts for power and greed. It is directed by Tim Burton and features the voices of Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, and Danny DeVito. This PG film is appropriate for older children through adults.

Penguins is a lovely Disney, IMAX, and nature documentary with themes of determination and commitment to family in the harsh environment of Antarctica. Narrator, Ed Helms comically voices Steve the penguin. Annually, the male penguins precede the females to prepare nests. Steve is a little bit behind the other males in this effort. The movie is spectacular and entertaining for the whole family.

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

Against many odds, the team of Unplanned has persevered to enable its ongoing success. Cary Solomon, the co-writer/director, and producer of Unplanned said the movie’s success the first weekend 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 remained at number four at the box office and has continued to remain strong. Unplanned has stunned the mainstream media, which resisted and blocked it, due to the large following without mainstream media support, and it has strengthened the turning tide from Pro-Abortion to Pro-Life across the country, especially in legislation throughout the states.

Unplanned is based on the true story of Abby Johnson, who works for Planned Parenthood because she thinks their goal is to prevent pregnancies. Abby was the director of the local Planned Parenthood office and was asked to go into the operation room and 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, who is 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 suitable for older children through adults.

The Biggest Little Farm observes the eight-year adventure of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland with a dream find harmony in nature.  With determination and perseverance, they overcome conflicts, and they discover how harmony can be found with nature. Doing this, they unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and the wildest imaginations of us all.

This charming documentary has breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and a message to appreciate nature. The Biggest Little Farm provides a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet. This film’s release has begun in a handful of theaters, but it is expanding to wider release in hundreds of more theaters. It’s appropriate for all ages.

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:  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 Thief; East Oil Texas; Thai Rescue; Roe V. Wade; Gigantic; 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 Point; The Follower; Our God is Good; and more.

Continue to search for and support the best movies for 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 family movies, but there are movies that may seem family-friendly that have politically correct themes with subtle messages that can be disturbing.

Not all seemingly family-friendly movies are equal in terms of family values, including superhero movies! It is critical for movie viewers who want uplifting, entertaining, and wholesome experiences for themselves to research movies written by trustworthy sources.

Further, all movie review and recommendation sources are not equal. Read reviews by those you respect who have previewed movies you are considering. All movies that glitter is not gold, even with cute and 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 media. As audiences continue to see good family and redemptive movies in theaters, more good movies will be made. With consumer support, it is possible to produce movies with high production qualities that entertain but also edify audiences mentally and spiritually.

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

See Dr. Howard’s top picks lists on IMDb

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