Inspirational movies in theaters July 2019 are heating up.
The top pick for the second week of July is Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, a documentary about champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a shark. It opens in theaters July 12. Other top pick movies remain in theaters in the following box office order: Spider-Man: Far From Home (No. 1); Toy Story 4 (No. 2), Aladdin (No. 5), The Secret Life of Pets (No. 7), and Dumbo.
‘Unstoppable’ | Finding Faith During Trials
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. Some times 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.
‘Spider-Man’ | Overcoming Evil With Good
The No. 1 movie, for which caution is advised for families, at the box office this week isSpider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13). It is another whirling, twirling, sensory-overloaded 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.
‘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’ | Teaches About Overcoming Challenges
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 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.
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: 7/29– Lion King (incredible live-action, cinematography) 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!
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard
See Dr. Howard’s top picks lists on IMDb