Movie Monday: Finding Father Christmas

Movie Monday

Based on the book by popular author, Robin Jones Gunn, Finding Father Christmas takes us into the life of Miranda, a real estate agent who struggles each year with the Christmas season because her mom died suddenly during that time 20 years ago.

Miranda never knew who her dad was, but when some of her mother’s belongings are discovered at the theater where she performed, Miranda finds some clues. One of the clues, a photograph, takes her to a small Vermont town. Could the photo hold the key to who her father is?

Staying at an inn and seeking the help of the handsome son of the inn’s owners, Miranda embarks on a search for not only her father, but also a search for a the kind of Christmas she’s always dreamed of. Can those longings she’s held in her heart since she was a little girl and lost her mom be realized? Will Miranda disrupt the lives of an unsuspecting family with her discovery?

Finding Father Christmas is a heartfelt story of hope and love. It’s a story of realizing that people who are giving and kindhearted truly do exist in a world, where we so often hear otherwise. It’s the perfect movie for the snowy winter days preceding Christmas.

[Possible spoiler alert] There is no objectionable material in Finding Father Christmas, and I recommend it for tweens and above. However, as a Christian reviewer and a mom myself, I do need to bring up the fact that there is the question of Miranda’s mother’s and father’s relationship and how it intersects with the relationships of others and the fact that they were not married. These are not details that are dwelt upon in the movie, but they are excellent discussion topics for families.

Erin Krakow (When Calls the Heart) and Niall Matter both give commanding performances. All in all, I recommend Hallmark’s Finding Father Christmas and give it a Christmasy 4.5 stars out of five. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Movie Monday – Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Movie Monday

Due to popular demand, Movie Monday is back! This week, I’m reviewing a movie that was recently shown in theaters across the country. Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: Path to Redemption is the true story of Louis Zamperini, the patriot, World War II hero, and Olympian, and shows us a glimpse into how no one is beyond God’s amazing redemption.

First off, if you haven’t had the opportunity to see this movie, I would highly recommend it. Estimated release date for DVD and Amazon video is in December.

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I personally couldn’t wait for the release of this movie into theaters. So when our small local theater decided to show it, I rounded up the gang, and we made a family night out of it. Complete with a big bag of buttered popcorn (yes, it’s one of my weaknesses, and yes, I did eat the entire bag, but we’ll just let that be our secret!). 😉

The movie opens with Louis Zamperini returning home after being presumed dead during World War II. We see the loving and close-knit family that rejoices when he walks through the door. Finally, all is well.

Or is it?

Little by little, we are shown how being a tortured prisoner of war affected Louis. Nightmares, flashbacks, alcoholism…will he ever be able to forget the affliction he faced at the hands of enemy?

He is given a break from his speaking circuit and heads to the beaches of Florida. It is there that he meets Cynthia. They have a whirlwind romance before marrying shortly after meeting. What will Cynthia do when she discovers the “real” Louis? A lost man with a severe alcohol problem?

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that this movie is ultimately the story of God’s love for us. He never gives up on us, no matter how far we stray. He stands there always, with arms wide open, welcoming us. Through Jesus, we have the assurance of forgiveness and the hope of eternal life with Him.

It’s also a story of true love between husband and wife. Marriage isn’t always easy. But by the grace of God, true love does triumph.

There was one instance of minor foul language and some cleavage. Other than that, this is a clean movie. Because there are “memories” of the severe torture (nothing graphic) Louis experienced, this is definitely not a movie for young children. However, for teens and adults, it’s a memorable movie that begs for a second viewing.

Pureflix has created another phenomenal movie complete with forgiveness, redemption, and love; I’m proud to give this a strong nine-stars out of ten.

Below is the trailer:

Join me a couple Mondays every month (in addition to my regular weekly blog posts) for movie reviews, from new releases to old favorites, from a Christian point of view.

Have you seen Unbroken: Path to Redemption? What were your thoughts?

 

 

 

9 movie series sure to be a hit for your next family night

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I’ve made it my mission to find movies that are suitable for families. In our culture of so many movies that aren’t suitable, it’s especially fun to discover ones that are clean and well-made.

So, pop up some popcorn and check out these movie series (in particular order) sure to be a hit on your next family night! (Click on the title to find out more information. Note: I am not affiliated in any way with either CBD or Amazon, but those are two of the places I did find availability for these movies).

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Our family has become addicted to this wonderful show that has a combination of romance, drama, comedy, and even some action! Four postal employees solve mysteries based on letters in the “dead mail” office. The employees, Oliver, Shane, Rita, and Norman will soon have you rooting for them as they solve mysteries and provide happy endings.

Father Murphy

If you loved Little House on the Prairie, you’ll love Father Murphy. Set in the same era, actor Merlin Olsen and Katherine Cannon team up with Moses Gunn to provide a home for orphans. There’s always a nemesis, and in Father Murphy, there are two: Miss Tuttle and Mr. Rodman. Together, they provide underhanded efforts to take the children from the orphanage to their work house. Faith, adventure, romance, and good lessons round out this wholesome pick that family members of all ages will enjoy.

Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye

Sue Thomas is a deaf woman who can read lips and speak. She’s lived a sheltered life for the most part, so when she’s accepted for a job with the F.B.I. hours from her hometown, she knows she’s embarking on an adventure.

Based on a true story, this series is one of the best I have ever seen and is on my top-ten favorites list of all time.  Sue Thomas F.B. Eye  has everything that makes a movie good – a touch of romance, drama, humor, action, and adventure. What’s more, the writers and producers managed to pull off this feat without the use of the distasteful Hollywood variety of violence, crass humor, foul language, and sexuality.

Sue Thomas F.B. Eye is a wholesome show, but it’s far from dull.

Anne of Green Gables

I promise you this series will soon become a favorite! This is the original Anne of Green Gables series that was produced by Sullivan Entertainment in 2002 and includes the following: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Green Gables the Sequel, and Anne of Green Gables, the Continuing Story. Viewers watch as Anne Shirley first goes to live on Prince Edward Island with a charming elderly brother and sister. She gets into mischief, falls in love, becomes an adult, and does her part in the War in this endearing series. (Note: this is not the most recent version of Anne of Green Gables, but the one, as mentioned above, that was produced in 2002. I personally do not advocate the most recent version).

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This series, peppered with faith, humor, and touching stories, stars Billy Ray Cyrus as a doctor who travels from his practice in small town Montana to New York. Taking a job in the big city, however, is no easy task for the cowboy who sees the good in people and always makes time for those in need of help.  A small town girl myself, I can only imagine how a move might make a huge impact on someone unaccustomed to city life. 🙂

Viewers find themselves growing attached to the characters, who seem to come to life as they wrestle with everyday problems. Great lessons abound, including discussion of topics such as humility, greed, selfishness, putting others first, and the importance of faith no matter what our chosen profession.

It is great for the entire family and contains nothing objectionable.

Love Comes Softly

My first-ever Christian romance novels given me as a gift were from my grandma. Yep, they were Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly. Fast forward many years later to a movie series based on the books. While some are better than others, this collection is a win-win for those who love a good series with faith, romance, and endearing stories.

When Calls the Heart

A newer series, this drama set in the early 1900s in Canada is sure to draw fans who enjoy drama and romance with a dash of comedy. My absolute favorites are Lee and Rosemary, who provide comedic relief as well-developed characters. This series is also based on Janette Oke’s book series by the same name. While the movies may not be quite historically accurate in every sense, this series an enjoyable watch and wholesome and clean as well.

Little House on the Prairie

All right, show of hands…how many grew up watching Little House on the Prairie, whether the first time it showed or after it had been released on VHS or DVD for some time? Growing up, we watched re-runs on Channel 12 at our house. And yes, I did have a crush on Almanzo. 😉 This series is perfect for those cold winter evenings when the family wants to escape into simpler times.

The Beverly Hillbillies

I had never seen this iconic movie that aired in 1962, many years before I was born. Corny and farfetched at times, this is the perfect antidote to take a break from the serious issues that plague our world today. My youngest daughter had even perfected the voice of Granny as she said her memorable, “Elly Mae!” Toss aside the amazing graphics of today’s movies and settle into a goofy series from yesteryear.

What is your favorite series of all time?

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21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
Our family is always on the lookout for wholesome family films for our weekly Family Night. Some of the best movies we’ve ever seen have been undiscovered gems we’ve stumbled across by accident.

The 20 undiscovered treasures below are in no particular order. Some are newer and some have been out for awhile, but they all are must-see movies for your next Family Night!

 

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

Beyond the Mask

The Redemption of Henry Myers (12+)

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Finding Normal

Clancy

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

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Though None Go With Me

The Gospel of John

Time Changer

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Last Ounce of Courage

The End of the Spear (13+)

King’s Faith (13+)

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Hidden Places

The Perfect Gift

Duma (12+)

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Seasons of Gray

Christmas Angel

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No Greater Love

Christmas Oranges

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Backroads and Lilies

Civil Love

 

For a listing of other fantastic movies, check out my Mom-Approved Movie List.  Interested in movie reviews? Go to my Mom-Approved Movie Reviews tab.

 

 

Movie Monday – Seasons of Gray

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today’s Movie Review Monday Movie is Seasons of Gray.

IMG (29)Seasons of Gray is a modern re-telling of the story of Joseph in the Bible. We are introduced to Brady, who deals with his older brothers’ vicious jealousy on a constant basis. The fact that he is their father’s favorite son only fuels the fire, as does Brady’s gift of being able to interpret dreams. When Brady receives a new truck for his birthday, his brothers decide they’ve had enough and take matters into their own hands.

Their ruthless decision forever changes the course of Brady’s life.

But does God still have a plan for Brady’s life despite the horror of what is to come?

Later sentenced to prison based on the words of his boss’s wife, who dishonestly accuses him of assault, Brady is faced with a decision. Does he turn his back on God, or grow in his faith?

That’s not the only major decision of which Brady faces. He’s also faced with yet another dilemma regarding his brothers.

Seasons of Gray has many great discussion points, including:

God’s plan for our lives, even when things go awry (Jeremiah 29:11);

Forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:22);

Being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17); and,

What was intended for bad, God can use to accomplish His purposes (Genesis 50:20).

While Seasons of Gray is a family film with nothing objectionable, it does contain thematic elements appropriate only for those 13 and older. There is some violence, but it is tastefully done and not of the typical “Hollywood” variety. Regarding the scene with Brady’s boss’s wife, the issue of sexual assault is also discussed, although not explicitly shown.

Everything about Seasons of Gray is well done. The acting is top-notch, the plot engaging, the story line realistic, and the scenes vivid.

Some movies are “downloads” or “rentals.” And some movies are “to purchase.” Seasons of Gray falls into the latter category. With a clear presentation of the Gospel and must-watch bonus features, I highly recommend it as one of the best movies of 2014.

I am passionate about finding movies suitable for families. For a complete listing of family movie suggestions and an archive of past reviews from a Christian worldview for Movie Monday, please go to my Mom-Approved Movies Page.

For an archived list of movie reviews, go to my newly created Archived Movie Reviews page. This page will be updated regularly to show all movies included in Movie Review Monday.

Movie Review Monday – The Mighty Macs

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

IMG (26)Today’s Movie Review Monday suggestion is The Mighty Macsa movie inspired by the story of basketball coaching legend, Cathy Rush.

Take a trip back to 1971 when women’s college basketball was just beginning. Not many women tried out for the sport, and it was far from being taken seriously.  The Immaculata, a small Catholic college, has just hired a new basketball coach – Cathy Rush – to coach the Macs. Cathy’s goal is to turn the inexperienced women’s team with a losing streak into a #1 team. However, there isn’t much hope. The college gymnasium recently burned to the ground. Most of the players lack experience. Cathy’s unorthodox ideas aren’t exactly embraced by the Nuns at the college, and financial problems abound threatening to close Immaculata. Old uniforms and a lack of funds to purchase shoes and travel to games add to the troubles. Can Cathy, along with her assistant coach, a Nun named Sister Sunday, turn things around for the flailing team?

There are many great moments in this movie. One of the girls comes from a poverty-stricken home. When pictures are taken, she wears her only outfit – a pair of ratty overalls and old boots. The result is an act of compassion that, for me, was a tearjerker moment.  Another great moment is when Cathy has the chance to confront her former basketball coach and does so with grace toward someone who had caused her much pain.

There are some humorous moments throughout this movie as well. Viewers will want to be sure to watch The Mighty Macs ESPN segment at the end of the movie, which shows coverage from the real games and highlights some of the real-life players,  as well as, the real Cathy Rush.

I enjoyed this movie. It’s a heartwarming and touching story for the entire family about an underdog team and the value of teamwork.

I am passionate about finding movies suitable for families. For a complete listing of family movie suggestions and an archive of past reviews from a Christian worldview for Movie Monday, please go to my Mom-Approved Movies Page.

For an archived list of movie reviews, go to my newly created Archived Movie Reviews page. This page will be updated regularly to show all movies included in Movie Review Monday.

Movie Review Monday ~ Safe Harbor

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
This week’s Monday Movie suggestion is Safe Harbor

Safe Harbor MovieSafe Harbor is the true story about an amazing couple, Doug and Robbie Smith, who found a ministry to take in troubled teenage boys. Their ministry came by accident.  It wasn’t Doug and Robbie’s intention to help the boys, who would otherwise spend time in prison.  They had quite different plans after retiring – to take a cruise in their boat and spend their days relaxing at sea.

Approached by a judge in their town, who asked the couple to take in three boys, the Smiths found it difficult to deny the judge’s request.  After all, it was this same judge who gave Doug another chance years ago when he himself was a troubled teen.

Cramming everyone into the tight living quarters of their small boat, Doug and Robbie devote their time to nurturing and guiding the boys who come from a variety of troubled backgrounds.  It isn’t easy, and at times the Smiths wonder if they’ve made the right choice. However, they never give up hope that they can truly make a difference in the lives of those who need them most.

This was an excellent movie of hope, second chances, and sacrifice. There are two minor swear words and viewers are shown the sad reality of severely dysfunctional homes and the result such homes had on the teenage boys. Due to some thematic elements including an attempted suicide, I would recommend this movie for those ages 12 and older.

My favorite thing about this movie is that it’s based on a true story. The Smiths are a phenomenal couple, and I enjoyed seeing the real-life Doug and Robbie during the CBN bonus feature at the end of the movie.  This movie will warm your heart and I highly recommend it!

I am passionate about finding movies suitable for families. For a complete listing of family movie suggestions and an archive of past reviews from a Christian worldview for Movie Monday, please go to my Mom-Approved Movies Page.

For an archived list of movie reviews, go to my newly created Archived Movie Reviews page. This page will be updated regularly to show all movies included in Movie Review Monday.