Some Alternatives to this Summer’s Movies
by Phil Boatwright

Were you disappointed with the new, more conflicted Superman movie? Did you find the spiritual symbolism as promised by Christian reviewers to be overshadowed by the film’s bombastic and endless carnage? And did you further venture into the local Cineplex during June, seeking amusement from comedic entries such as The Internship, only to find that once again Hollywood writers mined much of their material from various degrees of crudity? Expecting the same let-down from the rest of the summer offerings?

It continues to frustrate this Christian reviewer of movies that most of Hollywood’s productions aren’t just devoid of spiritual relevance, but that those making them seem determined to deliver just the opposite. For instance, The Bling Ring reminds us that the culture surrounding our youth is straying further and further from the spiritual element that completes our mental and physical makeup. It’s an important message, but how do I recommend this justly R-rated film?

If it were the exception rather than the rule, I could perhaps defend the film’s profundity over its profanity. Sadly, most films contain abusive elements. We are bombarded by such content.

How about Much Ado About Nothing? This romantic comedy, set in current times, yet dialogued by William Shakespeare’s original words, points out that despite all the modes of media available, there are few communicators willing to reintroduce wit and substantive discourse back into our way of talking. With all the strides modern man has made in the world of communication notwithstanding, there seems to be little desire by those who entertain us to emulate the eloquence of the Bard’s thoughtful and whimsical language. But, dare I recommend a PG-13 film that, along with the Bard’s wry way with words, also contains three rather graphic sexual situations. You may willing to overlook the sensuality in order to hear the august articulation, but more than a few of my readers will declare that I have gone over to the dark side should I promote such a film. So, what’s our movie-viewing alternative?

Like any of you who purchase a ticket, I go into a movie hoping it will surprise me. Will it entertain? Will it edify? Will it do both? Certainly, there is a plethora of films containing little or no redeeming value, but every once in a while a cinematic treasure comes along, overflowing with spiritually rewarding messages. Allow me to suggest three on DVD that might do for you what the summer’s theatrical releases aren’t.

Space Warriors
This made-for-TV movie concerns a 15-year-old who is invited to Space Camp in order to compete with a team of kids (the Warriors) against other teams for seats on the next space shuttle. Just when the Warriors are feeling defeated, an urgent crises aboard the International Space Station opens a door for them. It’s now up to the kids to solve a problem even NASA can’t handle. Using their skills to work together as a team, the Warriors hatch a brilliant plan that may save the day. A clean film with life lessons, this as yet unrated adolescent-aimed actioneer is now available on DVD. Suitable for preteens and their family.

This Is Our Time
From Pure Flix Entertainment, this youth drama concerns five friends who have just graduated from college and are heading out into the world, believing they will make a difference. The opening sequence with the friends in their graduating garb reminded me of St. Elmo’s Fire in that we were about to see comfortable kids going out into an uncomfortable world. But there is a difference; these protagonists have a devout faith – one that will be tested. With good production values, despite an apparent limited budget, This Is Our Time is a satisfying, spiritually uplifting drama that has something in common with It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s message reminds us that while we can sometimes feel overshadowed by others, we can affect the lives of those around us. Not rated, I found nothing objectionable. Suitable for 12 on up.

The Confession
From the press notes: “Based on the novel by New York Times best-selling author Beverly Lewis, The Confession is the continuing story of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman who goes on a journey in search of her identity - only to find herself embroiled in a mystery that must be solved before she can be reunited with the "Englisher" mother who gave her up to adoption 20 years earlier.”

Like his dad before him, director Michael Landon Jr. has a definitive storytelling style. Though the younger Landon is hampered by a limited budget, and the Amish novels from which the main character came have become a cottage industry aimed at Harlequin-loving audiences, still there’s a charm about this production. One might call it a sophisticated banality, as it inspires but never challenges. We know from scene one that everything is going to work out, and that the evildoers will get their just desserts. Sometimes that’s all we want from a movie.

Michael Landon Jr. is a Christian and delights in bringing gentle tales to the small screen. Proficient and prolific, he has been successful in delivering homespun optimism to his fans. (My fav of his productions: The Last Sin Eater.) With The Confession, the midsection of a TV-made trilogy, Mr. Landon also delivers. Not rated, I found nothing objectionable. Suitable for teens on up.