Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I am not a big fan of Christian movies.

They are always a bit cheesy, too focused on the message, and lacking in a story. Too many have been about the end days and not about how people live or fail at their faith on a daily basis.

Slowly, that is changing.

Better movies are being made; ones that focus on how humans live their lives. They focus on how we can be better as people of faith without pointing out the obvious.

miracles-from-heaven-movie-collageCase in point? I just watched the very family friendly Miracles from Heaven and was blown away,

It’s not just because Jennifer Garner is a good actress or that she had a great supporting cast. Garner is a beautiful woman who seems like one of us, she has that touch of normalcy that is relatable. She is not always a glamor-puss but when she is wearing a pony tail, tee shirt, and jeans she is definitely gorgeous.

In this movie, Garner is a mother to three girls and the wife to a big animal vet. Her husband has recently expanded his practice. They are happy (mostly) in their marriage and the three girls are happy and active. Their spiritual life is on track as well with one of the best praise bands at a church I have ever seen.

miracles-from-heaven-mov-treeBut then their youngest daughter starts having abdominal pain and throws up without warning. Numerous trips to the doctor’s office and ER gets them a diagnosis of lactose intolerance and acid reflux. But this mom knows there is something truly wrong with her daughter, she demands answers and solutions. And eventually, she gets them.

It is not without a price. People at church suggests the illness is because of an unknown sin; the cost of the medicine, treatments, and airplane tickets to Boston are pushing the family to the limit; and Christy is losing her ability to pray and feel God.

That is when a miracle occurs, changing their life yet again.

What keeps this movie from being a total sapfest is Jennifer Garner’s strength and determination, her fierce behavior during stressful moments. She is the center of this movie and carries it well, allowing the ten-year-old Kylie Rogers to be the center when needed.

miracles-from-heaven-mov-porchDon’t get me wrong, I still cried at the end of the movie. There is a lot to take in that is heartbreaking so I would tell parents that this one might not be for the littlest members of the house. It will make for great discussions with your pre-teens. But nor did I feel hit over the head with prosperity theology or “if you don’t have faith, you will get sick” bluster. Oh, I have stronger words for what I really think of that false religious thinking but that will take away from this review.

I want my faith expressed through people’s actions and I received it a plenty. This movie is not perfect, we did have a few cast iron pot moments of explication. And yet, I felt as if this movie made real progress in story-telling and acting by the major cast members. Produced by Affirm Films and Roth Film, it is clear that Christian movies are slowly but surely getting better. Good storytelling will deliver your message, you just need faith in the words and the actor’s ability to bring them to life.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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