Starring Robyn Lively, Jeffrey S.S. Johnson, Maree Cheatham, Tanner Maguire, Michael Christopher Bolten, and Bailee Madison, the story concerns eleven-year-old Tyler Doherty (Tanner Maguire) as he faces his daily battle against cancer with bravery and grace. Unselfishly, Tyler begins writing letters to his Creator, seeking God's care for those he will leave behind. The letters find their way into the hands of Brady McDaniels (Jeffrey S.S. Johnson), a beleaguered postman standing at a crossroads in his life. At first, he is conflicted as to what he should do with the letters. The decision he ultimately makes becomes a testament to the quiet power of one boy's unshakeable faith. Inspired by a true story, this is a heartfelt tale of inspiration, hope and redemption.
A church film if ever there was one, but done as all church films should be done. Bathed in prayer (daily on the set were people whose one task was to lift up in prayer both the production and those who would see it), and sufficiently financed in order to deliver first class production values. Indeed, the film has a beautiful look, the cinematography giving us a kind of To Kill A Mockingbird quality (only in color).
Possibility Pictures, LLC, intended by its founders to be the "DreamWorks of faith-based movies," is helmed by David Nixon, Tom Swanson and Kim Dawson, each having key creative roles in the church-backed Facing the Giants and Fireproof (the highest grossing independent film of 2008). Inspired by the spiritual and financial success of several cinematic efforts made by members of the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, the three men are heading a sincere group of investors, talents and spiritual supporters in the development of three faith-based movies, the first being Tyler Doherty's story.
Says producer Kim Dawson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I, II and III; Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius), "This is a picture that will build a bridge of hope between the faith-based community and the secular community, using prayer to provide hope to cancer victims and their families around the world. When I first read the story it triggered the thought in me that here is an issue that a lot of families must face. The most effective way you combat this challenge is to gather your friends, family and community around you and rely on them to hold you up. We're not trying to cure cancer with this movie. What we're trying to do is help people understand that they are not alone and people who have gone before them can really help."
While dealing with a sad reality, the script does contain humor and uplifting themes. What's more, it addresses a subject seldom discussed – children's reaction to their lives ending so quickly. Mr. Nixon suggests, "The number one fear of a cancer kid is that no one will remember them after they die."
I was moved to tears several times, but ultimately uplifted. Like Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, Tyler learns how our words and deeds can affect the lives of so many others
Rated PG (though you should decide if your kids are able to deal with the subject of a dying child, the subject matter is handled discreetly; and while we are talking about someone suffering with cancer, the reality of death in a movie can be used to help adolescents appreciate life and also come to terms with biblical principles and the afterlife).
The DVD includes a commentary tract with the director and a behind the scenes featurette.