Movie Review Monday – Christmas Oranges

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
This week’s Movie Monday family movie suggestion is Christmas Oranges…

IMG_0002 (6) As a movie reviewer on a quest to find wholesome family entertainment, I’m always thrilled to find a heartwarming movie that I hadn’t heard much about and discover a gem in the process.

Such is the case with Christmas Oranges.

Rose was abandoned as a baby on the steps of Greenwoods Orphanage. The motherly caretaker, widow Mrs. Hartley, takes Rose in to the orphanage and raises her, along with the other children of the orphanage, as if they were her own. The children enjoy a loving environment and all is well until the unspeakable happens.

Rose is then transferred to Irongates Orphanage, a place opposite in every way from the Greenwoods Orphanage. Under cruel Mr. Crampton’s direction, the children at Irongates are under strict rule with no love and very little attention.

Rose is immediately grateful for the new friends she finds at Irongates, as well as, Mr. Crampton’s kind brother Joe, and Polly, the cook. She hears of the stories of what happens on Christmas – the only day Mr. Crampton allows the children to have any fun. It’s on that special day that Joe brings each child an orange – oranges he has hung on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Rose finds it difficult to wait for Christmas Day.

Along the way, Rose encounters difficulties at every turn with Mr. Crampton. When she discovers he harbors a secret, will her gentle spirit sway him to realize the mistakes he’s made and that it’s never too late to start anew?

Christmas Oranges has quickly become one of my favorite films. Delightful, heartwarming, and humorous in parts, I was thrilled to have stumbled upon it. Christmas Oranges is not a Christian film, but it does have some wonderful lessons for discussion. For example: love despite biological ties, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness, grace, and serving others. There is nothing objectionable in this movie.

But I will give you one word of caution: you may need a kleenex. I know I did.

I highly recommended this movie for all ages for Christmas and for any time of the year.

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 Lost Medallion

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

IMG (4)My suggestion for this week’s Movie Review Monday is The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone.
It’s not often that today’s movie makers produce a movie targeted toward children that includes humor, adventure, drama, a good story line and is wholesome with a good message to boot. The Lost Medallion easily fits that bill.
Alex Kendrick, from Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants, plays Daniel, a man who visits a foster care home to make a donation when he’s roped into the telling the children at the home a story. Actually on his way to a baseball game, Daniel doesn’t have a story in mind and isn’t convinced he should set aside time to tell a story until he sees the three new residents at the home. Three residents who are no doubt struggling with the circumstances in their young lives.
Determined to make a difference, no matter how seemingly small, Daniel embarks on a story that not only engages the imaginations of his audience, but also includes the three new residents as the  main characters.
Daniel tells of a lost medallion that 13-year-old Billy and his widowed father are attempting to find as a promise to Billy’s mom, who lost her battle with cancer. Such determination leads to an adventure of a lifetime for Billy and his friend Allie, who find the medallion and inadvertently slip back into a world 200 years prior. When they lose the medallion to an evil leader, Billy and Allie, along with their new friends, will stop at nothing to retrieve the medallion. And in the process, they experience adventure, excitement, humor, sadness, and some great lessons to learn.
The Lost Medallion has some excellent discussion points. For example, the main characters are taught what it really means to serve others and put others as more important than yourself (Ephesians 6:7 and Philippians 2:3). And while not an overtly Christian film, The Lost Medallion also reminds audiences how important they are to God, how much He loves them, and that He made them each with special gifts and for a purpose. (Psalm 86:15, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 5:8, etc.)
My own children loved this film. Several times they laughed and the entire time they were engaged by this gem of a movie. It contains nothing objectionable, although young children will likely be frightened by some of the adventures the children face and by the evil leader, Cobra.
So, if you’re looking for a movie for the entire family that entertains and leaves an impact, The Lost Medallion may be just what you’re looking for –  and I highly recommended it!
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 Monday.
For a listing of all mom-approved movies, go here.

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.

Movie Monday – Backroads and Lilies

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Picture 139This week’s Movie Monday family movie night suggestion is Backroads and Lilies…

Alza Bennett’s car breaks down and leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere. How will she ever make it home for Easter now? After a series of mishaps, she stumbles across a hermit fixing his tractor. Moments later, she has convinced him to drive her several hundred miles to her parents’ house. After all, it’s imperative she makes it home for Easter.

Lincoln has no desire to be pestered by anyone, let alone a spoiled woman with no thoughts of anyone but herself. However, he agrees to drive her, and on the way they encounter all kinds of hilarious calamities.

At this point, it doesn’t seem like Alza will ever make it home. And if she doesn’t, how will she ever make that good impression on her family that she is striving so hard to make?

Backroads and Lilies is one of those movies I hadn’t heard much about until I saw it on the shelf of a local store.  I wondered if it would be a good movie. I wasn’t disappointed.

While it starts off a bit slow at first, the momentum quickly builds. Jefferson Moore who plays Lincoln is perfect for the role with his crusty glares. (He also played in one of my favorite movies of all time, Clancy). Christina Karis, who plays Alza has delightful facial expressions and plays her role well.

Backroads and Lilies is full of great lessons. First of all, lying never solves anything, which Alza soon finds out. Secondly, God teaches us to put others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Alza clearly doesn’t do this and soon learns an important lesson.  Third, serving others can make a huge difference, as Lincoln discovers. His choice not only helps Alza, but also makes a difference in his life as well.

Backroads and Lilies is a wonderful story of redemption. It includes humor, as well as touching moments. There is nothing objectionable and I would highly recommend it for those ages 8 and above. Younger children may not understand the plot and story line.

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Movie Monday – Homeless for the Holidays – 3/12/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s Movie Monday movie suggestion is Homeless for the Holidays

Jack Baker is a young and affluent businessman making his mark in the world of marketing for a large firm in his town. An arrogant man, Jack is not only selfish with his money (as is seen when he donates only a quarter to the Christmas fund), but he is also selfish with his time. His children yearn for him to spend time with them, and his wife, Sheryl, is tired of his cell phone ringing nonstop.

But Jack has bigger priorities that donating to every cause that comes his way. He has bigger priorities than spending time with his family. Jack is all about money and what money can buy. He finds great value in being able to provide the best Christmases for his family, which in his mind are the best and most expensive gifts and a large budget for decorating his house.

What happens one day when Jack is fired from his job? What then will become of his monetary dreams and his career ambitions?

This movie has many great discussion points. Jack must deal with pride and humility when he secures a job at Penguin’s Point, a fast food restaurant. The bills are piling up – where will Jack turn?

But negative points, such as deceit and greed, aren’t the only items up for discussion. There’s also loyalty, family-togetherness, sticking together in the most difficult times, and kindness also receive screen time. My favorite part is when Jack models for his son an example of true sacrifice and the mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves.

There are a few corny parts of this movie, but the resulting clear and heartwarming message make this movie one I would recommend for all ages.

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.