Films for Independence weekend 2019 share common themes of sacrificial love and service, which is especially appropriate for Independence Day week. Top picks at the box office this week include: Toy Story 4, Aladdin, The Secret Life of Pets, Dumbo, and Breakthrough. The No. 1 movie at the box office this week is Spider-Man: Far From Home, for which caution is advised for families.
‘Spider-Man’ Teaches Us About Selflessness
Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13) is another whirling, twirling, mayhem super-hero movie with redemptive themes but some crude elements. Peter Parker (16-years-old) and his high school friends encounter evil villains who deceive them, but they learn the truth and the importance of selfless service for the greater good.
Far more innocent top pick family movies include: Toy Story 4, Aladdin, The Secret Life of Pets, Dumbo, and Breakthrough.
‘Toy Story 4’ | Teaches Kids About Teamwork
Toy Story 4 is a Disney, Pixar, G-rated movie for the whole family which continues from the last Toy Story movie, when Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and their other toy friends are receiving fresh appreciation after Andy Davis gives them to Bonnie Anderson. However, when Bonnie makes a new toy, Forky, the old toys are challenged to include and help Forky, who experiences a crisis over being a toy. The other toys help him understand how to be one.
When Woody and the gang go on a road trip with Bonnie and her family, Forky escapes but Woody goes to save him, which separates them from the group near a small town. While Buzz and the others try rescue Woody, he finds Bo Peep among other toys in the town’s antique shop. The movie is filled with many exciting adventures and events.
Toy Story 4 is entertaining with some good themes about the values of family and serving others. The importance of taking care of others; of maturing to find real love in good positive, male/female monogamous relationships; of sacrificial love; and of finding the purpose for which one is created are stressed. The villain is transformed by redemptive self-sacrifice. (It should be noted, however, that there are some scary scenes for very young children.)
New ‘Aladdin’ Teaches Children About Hope
Disney’s new live-action, PG-rated, Aladdin, 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.
‘The Secret Lives of Pets 2’ | A Film About Overcoming Failure
The Secret Lives of Pets 2 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.)
‘Dumbo’ Reminds Us That Performance Is Not Everything
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. Coming to understand the ugly secrets beneath the glamourous surface of the circus, Dumbo helps to save it and his mother. 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’ | A Film About the Miracle of Faith
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.
Breakthrough (PG) is appropriate for older children through adults.
Further, there are many good, redemptive, family movies due out in theaters in days ahead. 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.
Furthermore, 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. All that seem to initially 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.
Good family and redemptive movies continue in theaters because of consumer support. Today individuals as consumers have more freedom to express Christian values in movies than in most public spaces. Christians must understand and use this power positively for the sake of their families, communities, and our world. Statistics have shown that good family and redemptive movies have demonstrated consumer support and staying power for many years and that is why they continue in production.
Where expressions of Christian values are limited in many public arenas, they are less limited in movies, television, and streaming media where there is consumer support. Today we are seeing a social trend in which a new morality has been developing that values tolerance and inclusion. Ironically, in many areas of our church, school, and community lives. This new social trend is often not inclusive or tolerant when it comes to Christian values, except where there is consumer support. Therefore, we see more open expressions of Christian values in movies and other media in public spaces where there is consumer support.
Therefore, when consumers choose good redemptive movies in theaters, on DVD and on streaming they are serving themselves, their families and their world for good.
Today active social responsibility is more needed than ever in our world filled with darkness, conflict and violence. Light transcends darkness; but it needs to be shined into the darkness to overcome it.
In the present darkness of our modern world, we are experiencing the worst of times and the best of times. We are seeing the destructiveness of extreme action and reactions. May we by God’s grace enjoy a better balance of honoring all lives with great art and depth of thought that lifts our souls and hearts together in heavenly balance and unity. May we celebrate the ongoing Renaissance of artistry and Reformation of content that continues to bring to great heights of artistic expression and to great ideas to the public square.
Here’s to family and redemptive movies that are entertaining during summer 2019!
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard