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.

 

Advertisements

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again

signed sealed delivered movie monday.png

From the very first episode of Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I was hooked. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the latest installment in the series.

In Home Again, the Postables find a package with what appears to be an expensive vase. Who sent it and who was the intended recipient? After discovering the answers to these questions, they discover a family in dire need of help before they lose their family farm. Will they be able to assist the family in their dream of keeping the farm before it’s auctioned off to the highest bidder? Will they be able to convince one of the daughters who left years ago on bad terms to return home?

signed sealed delivered.jpg

In other news, Norman and Rita receive a visit from Rita’s parents. Things get off to a bad start right away. What can Norman do to make Rita’s father like him?

Signed, Sealed, Delivered boasts great story lines, humor, romance, and a little mystery all thrown into one. There is nothing objectionable – this is truly family fare at its finest. The characters are realistic, the acting superb, and the storylines heartwarming. The only downside in Home Again is one unnecessary use of the Lord’s name in vain.

If you are looking for a series for your next family night, I highly recommend Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But start at the very first episode. It’s quite possible you’ll become an ardent fan as well!

 

Movie Monday: Switched for Christmas

Movie Monday switched at christmas (2)

My favorite type of movie is one that has humor, romance, and a little bit of drama. Switched for Christmas fits the bill on all three counts.

Kate and Chris are identical twins with vastly different lives. Both are jealous of the other, so when one brings up the suggestion to switch places, it gets the ball rolling for a hilarious time of mischief.

Does the other twin have a better life? Kate and Chris are about to find out. Kate is a high-powered real estate developer in Denver, living in a fancy condo with stylish clothes. Chris is an art teacher and single mom living in suburban Littleton. Will they each be able to be the “other one” during the Christmas season with two big projects at stake?

Switched at Christmas is pretty close to the perfect holiday movie. Candace Cameron Bure does a great job playing both sisters. Her daughter, Natasha, is also in the movie as Chris’s daughter.

There were a couple of great themes throughout the movie including loving and appreciating your family, and not taking what you have for granted.

My only suggestion would  have been to “play up” on the lessons the children learned about not taking their mom for granted. It would have been great to see their disrespect at the beginning of the movie addressed more fully. However, if you’re watching this with your tweens and teens, this could be a great discussion starter.

So grab the entire family and enjoy this fun movie that will have you laughing and rooting for each sister. It’s appropriate for all ages, and there is nothing objectionable in it.

I give Switched for Christmas a full five stars out of five. 🙂

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+)

IMG_0002

Finding Normal

Clancy

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

IMG (2)

Though None Go With Me

The Gospel of John

Time Changer

IMG_0006 (2)

Last Ounce of Courage

The End of the Spear (13+)

King’s Faith (13+)

IMG_0001

Hidden Places

The Perfect Gift

Duma (12+)

IMG_0003 (2)

Seasons of Gray

Christmas Angel

IMG_0005 (2)

No Greater Love

Christmas Oranges

IMG_0004 (2)

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 Monday – Silver Bells

Penny Zeller, Christian AuthorThis week’s Movie Monday family movie suggestion is Silver Bells

IMG (22)Bruce Dalton works for a local TV station as the sports anchor. With an inflated ego and impatience to match, Bruce expects everyone everywhere he goes to recognize him and the nightly tagline he uses after reporting the latest sports news.

Bruce is a man with a family – a wife, a daughter in law school, and a son named Jason who has lately been distancing himself from his father. Bruce’s selfishness is portrayed in many ways, from “fighting” for a parking spot at the local Kmart to putting his job above the needs of his family.

So what happens when Bruce takes his self-centered attitude too far? What happens when, in his anger and lack of self-control, a ref is injured at his son’s basketball game?

Will Bruce’s punishment finally show him what’s really important in life?

Silver Bells is a great movie on so many levels. When Bruce has to commit to community service as part of his punishment for injuring the ref, viewers get a glimpse inside the Salvation Army and how hard the bell ringers and other volunteers work to serve the less fortunate. Discussion questions abound, including:

  • The importance of family and their needs and why that should come first, after our relationship with the Lord. Bruce is not a Christian, but his son shows an interest in Jesus and church. Bruce wants nothing to do with either.
  • The importance of carrying out God’s command to serve others and care for the less fortunate. Bruce has no desire to ring the bell for the Salvation Army and finds himself in a bind many times regarding his attitude.
  • The importance of listening to wisdom, rather than focusing on ourselves. Major Lowell, the Salvation Army leader and pastor is a Godly man with much foresight. Will Bruce bother to listen to his gentle answers to the problems Bruce is facing in his personal life?
  • The importance of not sinning in our anger and keeping keeping our self-control in check.

Silver Bells has ingredients of a great movie. It has drama, humor, a wonderful plot, and a touching ending. Expect to laugh throughout the 88 minute movie, shake your head at Bruce’s shenanigans, and rejoice in the hope and redemption offered.

Bruce Boxleitner plays Bruce Dalton and gives a commanding performance as a versatile actor who can effectively play either the “good guy” or the “bad guy.”

I highly recommend this movie for all ages. A Christmas classic for years to come, this movie has quickly become one of our family favorites.

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.