Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Sometimes a good song falls in your lap. Sometimes a good song takes years to make. Sometimes it takes only minutes to write a song after a lifetime of experiences.

It is the story that drives I Can Only Imagine, a movie about the man who wrote the hit song on the Christian charts. It is both sad and sweet. It’s about redemption and taking chances.

The movie starts when Bart Millard is 10. He lives with his mother and father but the house is not happy. Alcoholic Dad takes his anger out on his family, causing Mom to up and leave. But not before she drops him off for a week at summer sleepover bible camp.

I can Only Imagine IMDbIt is here that Bart meets the love of his life, Shannon. They bond over camp activities and sneaking out to watch fireworks. But when Bart comes home, his mother has left and the only one at home is Bart’s father. A man who takes his anger out on his child.

So Bart spends the next few years trying to please his dad. But plans don’t always go the way you hope. Suddenly, Bart find himself in a different school club and a new door opens for him.

If you follow the band MercyMe, you might know the rest of the story. Of how a promoter saw the band, of how the band worked to be better, how they got an opportunity of a lifetime.

You might know the story on how Bart learned to forgive and open his heart. How his father made the biggest transformation of all.

It is a movie that surprised me because I enjoyed every bit of it. This is one of the few Christian movies where I feel like the writers and directors finally figured out that if you lean heavy on a good story, the message you want to share will come through.

I can only imagine BartIt helps that first time film-actor, J. Michael Finley, does an excellent job as the adult Bart. He makes the high school student and the adult vulnerable and closed off in the right parts. And yet, he cannot deny his own talent or his eagerness to use that talent.

Dennis Quaid gives us a character that is gruff and mean and unforgivable at the beginning. But in the end, we find ourselves rooting for the older man. Granted, he is only about five years older from the last time we see him but he is greatly changed. Quaid expresses all sides of this complicated man without going too far in one direction or another.

Trace Atkins also brings a special something to his role as the manager/promoter who gets the band noticed. His reluctance and belief in their potential makes the role feel real.

Sometimes sincere emotions can make up for lacks in this genre. Many of the people in this production came through with heart-felt portrayals that never let us down. Because of its uplifting story, because of the real transformation of the characters, I enjoyed watching this movie and would happily watch it again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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