To those of you who don’t venture out to movies often for fear of being assaulted with too much sex and violence, I offer my short list of fine family films.
My wife and I rarely go to movies these days, and we sometimes go long stretches without renting them. I don’t think I saw any of the films on my list at the theater. Generally, we wait until they are available on DVD. None of these recommended movies was released this year, and one or two of them may be five or more years old. Still, I think you might find two or three that will suit your fancy.
I don’t want to give the impression that we don’t occasionally rent other types of movies. We saw The Last King of Scotland, which was wonderful, but there is much violence in it. It’s definitely not a family film. We also liked The Great Debaters, and I would like to recommend it, but there is a quite unnecessary seduction scene. There is no nudity, but the scene seems absolutely gratuitous. So it doesn’t make my list.
I have seen Rush Hour I and Rush Hour II, and loved them both. But they are laced with obscenities, and definitely not to be listed.
On the other hand, if your household is like mine, your teenagers have already seen many of the movies I would not include. In fact, the ones I’ve left off they would consider tame.
Now the question many of you might have is this: Is this blog about books or movies? Well, we’re about books, and many movies start out as books. On the other hand, I’d just like to promote some good films. So here they are:
• At the top of my list I would probably place Amazing Grace, which is based on the life of British abolitionist William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a major factor in ending the slave trade in Britain. Wonderfully directed and acted, it has several interesting subtexts to it.
• Another excellent movie is Radio. You will absolutely love Cuba Gooding Jr. in this role. I thought he deserved an Oscar, but I’m not sure he was even nominated. He plays a mentally challenged youth who inspires his high school football team.
• The Ultimate Gift feels like a low-budget HBO-type movie. It’s not explicitly Christian but it carries a wonderful message. The acting is superb, but with James Garner, how can you go wrong?
• Beyond the Gates deals with the genocide in Rwanda. Its violent depictions are more implied than shown. The movie is about godly people standing up to the forces of evil in effort to help their fellow man. It will be a little heavy for children, and maybe some adults, but it’s worth it.
• Hotel Rwanda offers the same subject and theme as Beyond the Gates, but most viewers will be glued to their seats during the presentations. Don Cheadle is exceptional, as are the actors in Beyond the Gates.
• God Grew Tired of Us is really not a movie, but rather a moving documentary about a group of young Christian refugees from the Sudan who get a chance to leave the concentration camp and experience life in the United States. I wish we could say the same for those left in Darfur.
• For lighter fare, I enjoyed The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, from C.S. Lewis’ book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. There are Christian themes, particularly in the rising from the dead of the character Aslan. With several child actors, it’s something the little ones will enjoy.
• Akeelah and the Bee has been around for quite awhile, and many of you might have seen it on television. This movie should resonate strongly with black families since the story is so uplifting and most of the characters are black. If you like Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, you’ll love this.
• If you haven’t seen Facing the Giants, then you must rent it. It’s another low-budget movie, but it has a big impact. It’s about how a decision to honor God turns a down-and-out high school football coach’s life around, and inspires his team. You don’t have to love sports to love this movie.
• I recommend Yesterday with some hesitation because it’s really an adult movie. But it is a very well done and very touching film about a young South African mother who, though she is dying of AIDS, is determined to see her daughter enter school. Some youngsters will be moved.