Family films favorites are stronger than ever. Take a refreshing break from the heat of summer with movies that entertain, educate, and enlighten.
Summer 2019 begins with good family and redemptive movies in the following box office order: Aladdin, The Biggest Little Farm, Breakthrough, Dumbo, Amazing Grace, Tolkien, Penguins, Apollo 11, and Unplanned. The Secret Lives of Pets 2 also comes to theaters June 7. Check out SCH family films favorites.
Disney’s live-action, G-rated, Aladdin, is number one 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.
Better Living and a Healthier Planet
The Biggest Little Farm observes the amazing eight-year adventure of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200-acres of barren farmland with a dream of. 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.
Influential Adoption and Foster-Care Organizations
I found John Chester inspirational and humble in my exclusive interview with him. Read it on Sonoma Christian Home.
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.
Helping Others to Overcome Evil Lusts
Dumbo is a heart-warming, 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 helps to save 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, and about helping others to overcome 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.
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.
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 that 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.
Penguins is a lovely Disney, IMAX, and 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.
NASA’s First Moon Landing
Apollo 11 is an amazing real-life documentary of NASA’s first moon landing with astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins. The cinematography is spectacular with its newly released original footage. It is an educational and inspiring movie for the whole family.
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 many 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 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. Sonoma Christian Home interviewed Ashley Bratcher who portrays Abby.
The Secret Lives of Pets 2 follows the characters from the first movie with their new adventures and challenges. This entertaining movie has redemptive and Christian values such as compassion and sacrifice. However, it also has some light “politically correct” moments. It is most 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: 6/21– Toy Story 4; 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; I Still Believe; 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, God Calling, Walking with Herb; Let Go and Let God; A Promise to Astrid; 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 family movies, but there are movies that may seem family-friendly that have politically correct themes with subtle messages that you may find 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 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. Don’t just rely on trailers to choose movies because 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. Even the mainstream media has been amazed at the success of recent faith-based movies, due to consumer interest and support, and has seen that it is possible to produce movies with high production qualities that entertain but also edify and enrich audiences mentally and spiritually.
Here’s to the family, redemptive movies we can enjoy during summer 2019!
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard