Christian Movies in Theaters | Top Faith-Based Films Summer 2019
Going into the second week of June, theaters offer ongoing top pick family and redemptive movies. These include the following in box office order: Aladdin (No. 1), Dumbo, Breakthrough, Penguins, Tolkien, and Unplanned. Also, The Secret Lives of Pets 2 opens in theaters June 7. Take a look at these exciting Christian movies in theaters to see in 2019.
New Aladdin Teaches Kids About Integrity
Disney’s new live-action, G-rated, Aladdin, is No. 1 at the box office. It is a delightful cinematographic, humorous, and musical treat; but most importantly it presents themes of the importance of honesty and integrity, which outshine magical and deceptive power. Because Aladdin wants to impress the Princess Jasmine, he has the genie of the lamp turn Aladdin into a prince; however, the princess rejects the false prince as she has rejected other suitors. Aladdin learns the value of honestly and humbly presenting himself.
Dumbo is another heart-warming, live action remake of a Disney 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 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 about the value of family, and about helping others to overcome 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.
Breakthrough Affirms the Miracle of Prayer
Breakthrough is based on the inspirational true story of an adoptive one mother (played by Chrissy Metz) who demonstrates unfaltering and conquering love in the face of impossible odds. This inspiring movie 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 Chrissy Metz), came into the emergency room, praying loudly, and defied the institutional verdict of death. Suddenly, there was a pulse. John was revived and the miracles continued two weeks later as he walked out of the hospital without any brain, lung, or any other physical impairment. Today, John is alive. He is graduating from high school and preparing to study for the ministry. It is appropriate for young teens through adults. Some of the most influential adoption and foster-care organizations are partnering with Breakthrough to help share the love of this movie. To learn more about these vital issues, be sure to connect with the Dave Thomas Foundation and the National Foster Parent Association.
Penguins is another lovely Disney movie. It is an IMAX, nature documentary with themes of persistent love 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.
Tolkien Biopic Teaches Christian Virtues
Tolkien is a new biographical movie about his early life and the influences on Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories. It is most appropriate for young to older adults, due to the WWI images, literary elements, and more. This is a lovely inspirational choice for a date-night movie.
Tolkien uses strong cinematography and acting to focus on the formative years of the renowned 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, until the outbreak of the First World War which threatens to tear their bonds apart.
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 Christian virtues and character qualities that overcome intense violence, hostile power, greed, and evil. See my enlightening interview with acclaimed director Dome Karukoski on Sonoma Christian Home.
Unplanned Stuns Mainstream Media
Unplanned was released on Friday, 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 movie’s opening weekend far exceeded expectations. This fine movie is appropriate for older children through adults.
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 No. 4 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. Sonoma Christian Home interviewed Ashley Bratcher who portrays Abby.
The Secret Lives of Pets 2. It is an entertaining movie (PG) for the whole family that focuses on the secret emotional lives of pets and follows the funny antics and adventures of a cast of amusing pets. Max, the dog, faces changes and challenges when his owner Katie gets married and then has a child. Then, on a family trip to the countryside, Max meets a farm dog named Rooster, who helps Max overcome his fears. In the meantime, Gidget, the dog, tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment. Further, Snowball, the bunny, sets out to free a white tiger named Hu from a circus.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is especially appropriate for older children through adults. Consumers should know that it has animal bathroom comedy and a scene at the end of the movie with the credits showing a male dog dressed in a female costume.
It is valuable to look for wholesome, appropriate comedy because good, laugh-out-loud, clean entertainment can be healthy for viewers. It is also important to look for the best uplifting, positive movies because what we see impacts our memories, hormones, and general well-being.
Comedies help viewers to accept weaknesses and foibles. Birgit Wolz, a psychologist focusing on movies as therapy, and author of “E-motion Picture Magic” found laughter can enhance your sense of well-being, help your immune system, and decrease stress hormones. A study by researchers at the University of Maryland found that laughing at the movies, can lower blood pressure. Wolz says, “Laughter while watching comedies can relieve anxiety, as well as reduce aggression and fear.”
Research indicates that happy endings in movies, stories, and entertainment can trigger the limbic system, our brain’s reward center, to release dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic. Research also provides evidence that our brains produce the stress hormone cortisol during the tense moments in a story that can enable viewers and listeners to focus. However, stories with positive developments between and among humans and animals, can release oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy.
Very intense movies also affect your body physiologically, says Dr. George Bakris, who specializes in hypertensive diseases. “Very intense movies …increase heart rate, and if you have coronary heart disease, (they) can increase chest pain and blood pressure.” Intense movies can cause a spike in adrenaline and cortisol levels. Bruce McEwen, professor in the neuroendocrinology laboratory at The Rockefeller University in New York, and past president of the Society for Neuroscience explains movies can trigger memories of traumatic events. Therefore, intense, action-packed, and/or tragic movies may not leave viewers feeling well.
Whirling, twirling exploding films, marketed as family movies, full of mayhem may not be the best choices. Many of these kinds of movies have moral and redemptive themes, but some have crass behavior and profanity. These movies reflect the violent mayhem and divisive conflict of in our world today.
Good stories and movies not only provide escape and entertainment, but they can release oxytocin that helps us positively connect with others. Taking time to study good family and redemptive reviews pays off in finding the best movies that are entertaining but also edifying and enriching. Watch for top picks, selected for the best well-being of viewers, on Sonoma Christian Home.
Just remember that movies are not benign in their influence and can affects viewers. Investigating good family and redemptive reviews pays off in finding the best movies that are entertaining and enriching. Studying what is in movies before we see them helps us to enjoy top feel-good, family, redemptive picks for quality in theaters.
By Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies), https://dianehoward.com/