Family movies top the box office July 2019: Lion King (No. 1), Spider-Man: Far From Home (No. 2), Toy Story 4 (No. 4), Aladdin (No. 7), The Secret Life of Pets (No. 10), Apollo 11, Biggest Little Farm; Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, Dumbo, and Unplanned.
New ‘Lion King’ Teaches Us About Bravery
Disney’s, live-action, Lion King, is amazing and wonderful in many ways in its: live-action characters, cinematography, music, comic relief, themes and more. Like many other top picks this month, it has the theme of challenging deception and disinformation that reveals truth and sets characters free. Other worthwhile themes concern the value of family, friends, home, courage, sacrificial love and more. Caution is advised for young children because there’s some intense threatening and violence to the animals. This spectacular PG movie is appropriate for older children through adults.
‘Spider-Man’ | Overcoming Evil With Good
Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13) is number two at the box office this week; but caution is advised for families concerning this movie because it is another whirling, twirling, sensory-overloaded super-hero movie with some crude elements. There are also some redemptive themes and elements as Peter Parker (16-years-old) and his high school friends encounter evil villains who deceive them but 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, and Dumbo.
‘Toy Story 4’ | The Power of Friendship
Toy Story 4 is a movie for the whole family which shows the power of teamwork. It 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.)
Aladdin is a delightful cinematographic, humorous, and musical treat featuring Will Smith. Disney’s new live-action, PG-rated, Aladdin, is entertaining; 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’ | Teaches About Overcoming Challenges
Secret Lives of Pets 2 teaches about overcoming challenges. The Secret Lives of Pets 2 focuses on the secret emotional lives of pets and follows the funny antics and adventures of a cast of amusing pets. It is an entertaining movie (PG) for the whole family. 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 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.
Apollo 11 s 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.
‘Unstoppable’ | Finding Faith During Trials
Unstoppable tells the story of surfer Bethany Hamilton, who at age 13 was out surfing when she was attacked by a 15-foot tiger shark. (Courtesy of Freestyle Releasing)
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, with its amazing, spectacular cinematography, tells the story of surfer Bethany Hamilton, who at age 13 was out surfing when she was attacked by a 15-foot tiger shark, which cost her left arm. However, not only did Hamilton survive the attack, she was back on the competitive surfing circuit in less than a year.
More than a decade later, Hamilton, now married and a mother, undertakes her greatest challenge: chasing a toddler and the biggest wave of her career. Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable is the untold story of the heart of a champion and her resilience against all odds to become one of the leading professional surfers of our time. Bethany Hamilton is continuously rewriting the rules on being a fearless athlete and brings new meaning to the phrase “surfs like a girl.”
Bethany says, “The Bible tells us in John 16:33, ‘In this world you will have trouble…’ That’s not the best news, but reality is important. Trials are coming. The verse finishes, ‘…but take heart! I have overcome the world.’ There’s the good stuff! With Jesus we can overcome. …I really love this verse! Reflecting on this verse today has me thinking about life. As we all know, or come to discover at some point, life isn’t easy, and it can often feel really hard. We are going to experience tough times. Sometimes are harder than others. That’s just part of life, but as Jesus has said, ‘take heart! I have overcome the world.’ In overcoming the world Jesus destroyed sin, defeated death, and annihilated Satan.
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable is rated PG and is appropriate for older children through adults. Bethany has been a role model and inspiration for all ages of older children through adults. Like other top pick movies this week, this movie challenges disinformation and expectations of athletes and anyone who has lost limbs.
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. See my exclusive interview with John Chester.
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.
‘Unplanned’ Twitter Page’s Suspension
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, 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 theme of challenging deception and disinformation to reveal Truth is found in the movie itself and in the story of its being shown in theaters after much opposition and misinformation. Most recently the overcoming of fierce resistance to the movie even before critics had seen it, has played out in Canada. The film was released in the United States in March and has done well in the US despite political resistance. Then it faced fierce obstacles in being shown in Canada. However, it finally recently became available in dozens of theaters in Canada, averaging of $7,041 per screen.
Cary Solomon, director, said, “We were suppressed at every turn…,” Solomon said of the obstacles. “The left and the pro-choice side in the government denounced the movie without seeing it.”
Ashley Bratcher, who plays Abby Johnson in “Unplanned,” referred to the box office numbers as “astounding” because their figures bring the movie into the top five Indie film opening weekends in 2019. Box Office Mojo has indicated that the total gross for the film is $18.46 million.
According to CBC, Unplanned was shown to an audience of 2,800 in Edmonton, Alberta, in May. There is an amazing back story of opposition of spiritual warfare and overcoming prayer.
The chain owning the vast majority of the theaters in Canada, Cineplex, stated that they had not signed on to show Unplanned because it had not yet secured a Canadian distributor. Thousands of supporters of the movie signed a petition stating they would boycott the chain if Cineplex refused to allow Unplanned to be screened. After B.J. McKelvie, a New Brunswick pastor with a movie booking company became the booking agent, Cineplex finally allowed the movie to be shown in its theaters.
Further, Directors Solomon and Konzelman were guests at the White House summit on social media censorship of conservative-leaning and pro-life voices recently, having previously testified before the Senate on how big tech companies, such as Twitter, have suppressed their movie.
Solomon believes that the considerable effort to keep the film out of Canada reveals the spiritual warfare over the issue. However, despite the opposition and obstacles, Solomon and Konzelman have expressed their gratitude for support of their movie by patrons and the good numbers. They have stated that in the movie industry the per-screen average is what is important. This is why independent movie theater owners are looking at the numbers and trying to work the movie into their schedules.
Solomon says, “Had we been in 1,000 or 1,500 screens in Canada we would have had a 4 or 5 million dollar open in Canada…This was an awesome display of not only what the Lord is doing, but of the movie itself, the power of the movie.”
The Wall Street Journal has noted that the American abortion debate is now in Canada, shaping coming elections.
Solomon has said that they continue to hear from thousands of people about their being saved and have heard from abortion workers that they want to leave the industry. “All kinds of amazing things are occurring, just from a movie,” he said.
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: 8/2 –Dora the Explorer; 8/23-Overcomer (latest Kendrick Brother movie with timely themes); 9/12- The Islands (incredible true faith story); 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!
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See Dr. Howard’s top picks lists on IMDb