Movie Monday: The Mask Murder

the mask murder movie monday

A who-dunnit with just enough twists and turns to throw off the viewer…

In The Mask Murder, one of the many in the Garage Sale Mystery movie series, Jenn finds a dead body in a storage locker. How did she get there, who killed her, and why is there a plaster mask that resembles the victim? Could it be clue that leads to the killer? Is Jennifer’s life in danger as she closes in on solving this mystery?

Meanwhile, Hannah learns a lesson about what’s really important when her dad helps her with a college building project constructing tiny houses for homeless people.

Hallmark does a remarkable job with The Garage Sale Mystery series. While they are suspenseful and include a variety of potential suspects in each episode, the series never delves into gratuitous violence or other unwholesome aspects. That being said, this and other episodes are for teens and older due to the storyline and content.

garage sale mysteryOne of my favorite things about this series is that it depicts a family of four with a husband and wife who love each other. Not another series with hateful banter, disrespectful children, or a dumbing down of the dad. The children (one who is a teen and the other who is a college student) both have their own lives, yet are an active (and close) part of the family unit.

 

One of the things I enjoy most about reviewing movies is finding ones that are safe for the family, void of language, sexuality, violence, and gore. The Garage Sale Mystery episodes fill the bill for that criteria.

A side note, but one I feel is important to mention is the recent “news” regarding actress Lori Loughlin (Jenn in the Garage Sale series). I’m saddened that due to her alleged choices, the series won’t continue as is. She did an excellent job, as did the others actors and actresses. My hope is that she would own up to what she allegedly did, apologize, and do her best to make amends. It would be an excellent example of redemption.

 

Movie Monday: Indivisible

Movie Monday indivisible

Darren and Heather have a picture-perfect marriage. They are both committed to each other, to their children, and to the Lord.

Michael and Tonya are struggling in their marriage and have been for some time. Michael has anger issues and ignores Tonya on a regular basis.

One day, both Darren and Michael, as well as two other secondary characters in the movie, receive orders to deploy to Iraq. Darren will be deploying as a chaplain and for the first time; Michael and the other characters as soldiers.

Darren came back from Iraq a different man.

Michael came back from Iraq a different man.

One for the better, one for the worse.

What happens in Iraq changes both men forever. Darren sees things, experiences things, and faces loss that he’s never experienced before his deployment.

Can a couple with a strong faith rely on God to get them through a crisis in their marriage?

Can a couple of the brink of failure allow God to intervene?

Indivisible_FinalPoster.jpg

Indivisible is a touching story of faith, love, and patriotism. It details the realities of war, the difficulties our soldiers and their families face, and tackles the difficult topic of PTSD. While I have a grandpa who served in WWII and the Korean War; a father-in-law who served in WWII, and a cousin who served in Iraqi Freedom, I didn’t realize the extent to which our faithful servicemen and women give of themselves – their sacrifices – to keep or great nation free.

There is nothing objectionable in the movie; however, there are some scary parts that would frighten younger children.

Indivisible is based on a true story, and is one you’ll want to watch more than once. I give it a strong five out of five stars and highly recommend it for age 12 and older.

 

Movie Monday: Miss Potter

Movie Monday Miss Potter.png

Miss Potter is based on the life story of author and artist Beatrix Potter, known for her best-selling “Tale of Peter Rabbit” books. Having a gift for art since she was a child, Beatrix continued to hone her talent and seek publication as an adult. However, as one from a wealthy and upstanding family in the early 1900s, Beatrix was expected to take a different route with her life – to marry, have children, and host social events in her fancy home. She, however, had a different dream – to see her stories published in book form.

miss potterWhen Beatrix receives an acceptance from a large publisher, she is ecstatic. However, her mother is less than thrilled, and we see the conflict throughout the entire film. Her publisher assigns the publication of her books to the youngest brother of the owners of the company, a man named Norman, who is almost as excited as Beatrix is about her books. Will their partnership blossom into something more?

This movie is appropriate for all ages, although those under 8 or so will not likely understand the story line and might become disinterested.  There is nothing objectionable in this movie, although there is an incident where Norman is less than honest when he slips a bit of brandy into the elderly governess’ tea.  Spoiler alert – be sure to have a tissue box because there is an unexpected tragedy woven in the movie.

Miss Potter is a delightful movie and I enjoyed it for so many reasons. First, as an author myself, I could completely understand how the characters came to life in Miss Potter’s mind and how she loved to tell the stories of each character. Secondly, this movie contained all of the elements of a great story: romance, drama, and a bit of humor. It encourages all of us to follow our dreams.

I give Miss Potter a five out of five stars.

Join me most Mondays for Movie Monday, reviews from a Christian point of view of suitable movies for families – and yes, there are many!

For a listing of movies, please see my collection of Mom-Approved Movie Listings.

 

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 – Coming Home for Christmas

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

IMG_0003 (2)Kate and Melanie were once as close as sisters could be. Until one day when Kate did what Melanie deemed to be unforgivable. Five years later, the girls still aren’t talking, which is taking a toll on their parents, who decide to separate.

Kate decides to make it her mission to not only bring her parents back together for Christmas, but also to restore the loving friendship she once shared with her sister and best friend. Kate longs for the days when her family was close and the fond memories they shared in a house her parents have since lost due to the bad economy.

But will her plan succeed?

Melanie seems to have the perfect life. She married into money, has a 5,000 square foot home, indulges in spa days, and has a seemingly wide circle of influential friends. But is everything as it seems? When Kate discovers her sister’s real life, will she be able to convince Melanie to make amends?

Throw into the mix a budding romance with a handsome soldier, some humor, the loss of a father, and the sad background of one who never had a family and you’ve got an interesting mix meshed into a delightful story.

While Coming Home for Christmas is not a Christian movie, it is a feel-good, fun-to-watch show that highlights some great discussion topics, such as,

Forgiveness – can Melanie ever forgive Kate for what she did? The Bible tells us to forgive others in various passages in the Bible, including Matthew 6:15.

Importance of family – Kate and Melanie grew up in a family that shared a lot of love for each other. They spent time together, sang together, and made each other a priority. God highly values family.

Grief – throughout the story, we see the grief of a young boy who has lost his father. He’s not the only one who has suffered loss. Enter Mike who knows firsthand all about grief and loneliness. The Bible discusses how we can comfort others after knowing firsthand the way God comforts us in our time of need. (2 Cor 1:4).

Marriage – Can Kate and Melanie’s parents move past their differences and once again experience the deep love they had for each other? Marriage is of utmost importance to God.

I highly recommend Coming Home for Christmas, especially for those mom-daughter nights or movie nights with the girls. It contains nothing objectionable and is appropriate for tweens and up.

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 – Grace Unplugged

Penny Zeller, Christian AuthorGrace Trey, the daughter of one-hit-wonder, Johnny Trey, has a gift for singing. Having partnered with her dad for years in the church worship band, at 18, Grace longs to take her singing career a step further, maybe even someday living her dream of being like secular singing artist Renee Taylor.

GU_Avatar1_smSo when Mossy, her father’s manager from the past approaches Johnny about recording a new album after all these years, Grace eavesdrops and can’t believe it when her dad rejects the idea. How can her father turn his back on an opportunity for him to return to the spotlight?

But Johnny Trey sees things differently. He’s not the same man he was during those days he sang his song “Misunderstood.” He’s no longer the man that could be found drunk and passed out and living for himself. No, Johnny has since found a greater purpose in his life. To follow Jesus and devote his life to Christ.

Grace decides to contact Mossy about the singing opportunity, after all, what does she have to lose? This might finally be her chance to live out her dream. However, in the midst of her decision, she breaks her parents’ hearts and turns her back on all she knows in her small Alabama town. Will the fame and fortune that is sure to follow be worth it? Will Grace also turn her back on the Lord? Will the temptation Grace finds herself in at every corner change her life forever?

I was thrilled when Grace Unplugged came to my local theater. This is a story of love, sacrifice, loyalty, and second chances. It is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and the realization of what matters most in this life.  There were lessons to be learned and tissues to be used.

Yes, I admit. I was the sniffling mom in the fifth to the last row. 🙂

Many discussion points abound in this movie, such as, devotion to the Lord, the change in our lives through Jesus’ mercy and grace, teenage rebellion, resisting temptation, parenting concerns, and the darker side of stardom.

If you only see one movie this year, make it Grace Unplugged.  While there are some issues for discussion, there is none of the typical “fare” seen so often in Hollywood movies, such as language and violence.

I highly recommend it for ages 12 and over.

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. My goal is to update this page on a regular basis to show all movies included in Movie Review Monday.

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.

For a listing of movie suggestions, please see https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/mom-approved-movies-for-families/

For an archived listing of reviews for recently-reviewed movies, please see https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/archived-mom-approved-movie-reviews/

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 – Rugged Gold – 11/19/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s family movie suggestion is Rugged Gold.

Martha, a widow, is raising her young son Lloyd with the assistance of her wealthy in-laws. One day, a few years after her husband’s death, Martha attends a seminar where the speaker, a man named Don, asks her out for coffee. Before long, Martha finds herself in love with the rugged gold miner from Alaska.

Fast forward and we see Martha following her new husband Don to the wilds of Alaska. Leaving behind a comfortable life in a fancy house with all of the comforts of the 1950s, Martha is in for a shock when she discovers just how primitive her new life will be. Her son Lloyd is even less thrilled. Lloyd later runs away leading Martha on the rescue of a lifetime. While Don takes the boat and goes in search of Lloyd, Martha, on foot, also searches closer to home for her son. Will she find him in time? What about the grizzly bear that has been seen in the area? When Martha is severely injured, how will she survive alone with Don and Lloyd gone? Is Don even still alive?

Rugged Goldis a movie full of adventure. There are also some great discussion points…

1. About family loyalty and unity – Martha’s in-laws are quick to assist her after her husband’s death and are protective of her when she falls in love again.

2. Obedience – Lloyd’s lack of obedience nearly cost three lives.

3. Marriage – While not every woman would be so eager to leave her comfortable life behind and follow her new husband to a primitive and isolated place, Martha does so with optimism. Don also, while not perfect, is quick to show his love and admiration for his wife.

4. Reliance on God during times of hardship. Although this is not a Christian movie and there are a couple of “nature” themes, it is clear that Martha relies on the Lord.

Rugged Gold is based on a true story found in Martha’s journals. A wholesome older movie with some good discussion points, it fits the bill for family movie night. I would recommend it for ages 12 and over due to some intense scenes including injuries, earthquakes, and a grizzly bear that may frighten younger children.

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/mom-approved-movies-for-families/

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 – A Song for the Season – 11/12/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today’s Movie Monday movie suggestion is A Song for the Season * (released by Feature Films for Families).
Fern has recently lost her parents and is living with her uncle Cal, who travels around the United States looking for ways to cut school budgets and save schools from closure.  Fern despises the constant traveling to new towns so her uncle can fulfill his job requirements. So when Cal accepts a job in the small town of Bethlehem, Kentucky where her WWII veteran grandfather lives, Fern is none too thrilled.

Lily Waite gave up her career as a professional musician years ago to care for her mother in the tiny town of Bethlehem, Kentucky. Now Lily is a beloved music teacher at Bethlehem High School.  She has changed lives for the better through a love of music and is thrilled to embark on yet another Christmas production. What will happen when she discovers the school is looking for ways to streamline its budget and that some programs will have to be cut? Will her music program be among the programs deemed “unessential” so that the school can continue to stay open? Throw in the complicating issue that she is drawn to Cal and enjoys spending time with him and that Lily has taken Fern under her wing and the plot thickens.

A Song for the Season is an enjoyable watch with themes of sacrifice, forgiveness, and finding hope after a loss. It is a story of priorities, investing our time in the lives of those struggling, and using the gifts and talents God has given us.

While A Song for the Season is not a Christian movie, it was great to see Christmas songs performed in the school. It was also refreshing to see veterans, such as Cal’s dad Jake, honored for their service to our country.

A Song for the Season features Gerald McRaney, Naomi Judd, and Andy Griffith among its cast. The version I watched, released by Feature Films for Families, contained nothing objectionable (however, there was a strange song at the Christmas dance). I would recommend this movie for those ages 9 and over.

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/mom-approved-movies-for-families/

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 – Follow the River – 10/29/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s movie Monday suggestion is Follow the River

IMG_0006 (3)It’s the 1700s in Virginia and all seems well for Mary Ingles and her family. She and her husband, Will, have homesteaded on a beautiful piece of land, they have a strong marriage, an adorable son, and a baby on the way.  Residing close by are Mary’s brother and sister-in-law, as well, as her mother. But their lives are about to be turned upside down…

On a calm morning after Will and Mary’s brother, Johnny, leave to mend fences, there is an Indian raid on the homestead. Lives are lost, fires are started, and Mary, her son Thomas, her sister-in-law, Bettie, and another man are kidnapped and taken to a Shawnee Indian village. John and Will return to devastation and form a search party to find their missing family.

Mary is nine-months pregnant during this time, which makes the long grueling walk all the more difficult. What will become of them? Will they be allowed to live? Will Mary ever see her husband again? What happens when the Indian chief takes an interest in Mary? When Mary is sold and separated from her children, what will become of them? Will Mary’s plans to escape be successful?

This is a movie of hope, courage, and strength. It’s also a movie of a strong love between a husband and wife who will do anything to be together again.

This movie contains nothing objectionable, although young children will likely be frightened by the raid scene at the beginning, as well as, a scene where the prisoners are forced to run through a line and whipped.  I would recommend it for those ages 12 and over.

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/mom-approved-movies-for-families/

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