Movie Review 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.

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Movie Monday – Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

My suggestion for this week’s Movie Monday is Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke:

As a movie reviewer, I love discovering movies that I haven’t heard of yet. Such is the case with Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke. My oldest declares this movie should have been more aptly titled Narrow Escape. Here’s why:

IMG_0001 (3)Killer Flood is a movie that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat from the very start.

Architect David Powell does everything in his power to convince those in the town of Rutland, Vermont, that the dam is going to burst, causing torrential flooding and loss of lives and property. No one believes him. After all, why should they? The acting mayor, Natalie, is David’s estranged wife; the architectural intern at the dam is David’s son; and Matt, the man in control of the town is David’s nemesis.  All three feel as though David is responsible for the dam’s inferior design. David’s wife and son are still grieving over the fact that David left them five years ago after being accused of shady dealings while designing the dam.

So…what can David do when so many lives are at stake?

Joe Lando of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman  plays David. (Have to admit, I’m a girl who loved watching Dr. Quinn). He gives a commanding performance of a man rebounding from failure. Versatile Bruce Boxleitner proves he can successfully play a bad guy. And Michele Greene gives a convincing performance as David’s wife and acting mayor. The story line is realistic, the acting good, and the movie a pure nailbiter. Twists and turns make for never a dull moment.

This movie brings up some great discussion points. For instance, if someone is wrongfully accused, what’s best course of action? What’s the value of family and at what cost should one attempt to keep their family together, even through challenging times? How important is loyalty between friends? And finally, this movie gives a good example of why the love of money truly is the “root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

While there is nothing objectionable in this movie, younger viewers will find the scenes depicting the terrifying and traumatic flood to be frightening. Therefore, I would highly recommend this movie for those 10 and older.

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 to the Mom-Approved Movie Listing page.

 

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.

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 – The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today’s family movie suggestion is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey…

Picture 135We first watched this movie a couple of years ago and just recently watched it the other night. I’d forgotten what a delightful movie it is!

Based on the book by Susan Wojciechowski, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is a movie of the value of family and of new beginnings. Thomas has recently lost his father in the War. When he and his mother move to the country from their upscale city home, Thomas finds it difficult to adjust.  How will he ever survive without his father? And to make matters worse, Thomas accidentally left the beautiful Nativity Scene figurines at the train stop. Figurines that are a reminder of the Christmases past with his father.

Jonathan Toomey is no stranger to grief. Having lost his wife and child, he shuts himself out from the world, and instead is content to hide behind the doors of his rented cabin carving items to sell at the local shop. Some of the children in town mock him including calling him “Gloomy Toomey” and throw pebbles at his home. Rumors abound when the children make up stories about just what it is that Mr. Toomey does.

When the paths of Thomas, his mother, and Mr. Toomey cross, lives change. Can those who have lost the most find true happiness again?

This is a wonderful movie with themes of not judging others (Luke 6:37; Matthew 7:1), caring for those less fortunate , and doing to others as you would have done to you (Matthew 7:12). It is a story of healing with some humor dabbled in and some refreshing scenes about the importance of family. It’s a film you’ll want to add to your annual Christmas collection.

This movie contains nothing objectionable, and I would highly recommend The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey for all ages.

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 – Time Changer – 11/26/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s Movie Monday family suggestion is Time Changer

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Russell Carlisle is a professor at Grace Bible Seminary in 1890. He’s also written a manuscript that he hopes to have endorsed by his colleagues  and fellow board members at the seminary.

During a meeting regarding the endorsement, all of the board members heartily agree that Russell’s manuscript, titled “The Changing Times” is excellent and worthy of being endorsed. All agree, except one board member by the name of Dr. Anderson.

What ensues next is a disagreement between Russell and Dr. Anderson. The publisher’s deadline is approaching…will Russell receive the endorsement he needs in time? Can he exclude Dr. Anderson’s opinion and still receive the endorsement from the seminary?

Dr. Anderson has a valid reason for refusing to endorse Russell’s manuscript. Based on a secret journey he took in a time machine his father invented, Dr. Anderson has seen in the future and knows the ramifications Russell’s manuscript could have. But can he convince Russell of his error? Can Dr. Anderson convince Russell to take a trip over 100 years into to the future?

Time Changer is an excellent movie. It contains drama, humor, and leaves the viewer with some thoughts about our present world and its decline away from Christian values. There are many discussion points throughout including:

Why sharing the Truth about Jesus Christ is as important in 1890 as it is in the present;

How each action has a consequence;

Written works, films, and other media do have an impact on our society and culture, whether positive or negative; and,

How, even if everyone else disagrees with you and pressures you otherwise, it is important to take a stand for what’s right.

There is nothing objectionable in Time Changer.  It is a well-written film with professional acting and a great lesson. I would highly recommend it for ages 8 and older.

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 – Front of the Class – 6/25/12

This week’s family movie night suggestion is Front of the Class…

A Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Front of the Class  takes viewers into the life of Brad Cohen, a real-life man with Tourette Syndrome. When Brad was six-years-old, he began to make strange sounds and have peculiar tics. His parents had no idea what was wrong with him and his father even blamed him for misbehaving and disobeying whenever he asked Brad to stop. His classmates ridiculed him and his teachers sent him to the principal’s office on a regular basis.  Several times throughout the film, he was made to promise to “quit making those noises” – noises he had no control over. Attending movies and going to the library was out of the question because Brad’s unannounced sounds came at the least opportune moments.

Brad struggles to deal with his undiagnosed disorder, although he terms it as his “constant companion” as a way to deal with it. His upbeat attitude helps when few around him understand. After numerous trips to doctors and psychiatrists, Brad’s mom finally takes matters into her own hands and discovers there is a name for what her son struggles with – Tourette Syndrome. She can now find him the support he needs.

Later in life, Brad sets out to become a teacher – a lifelong dream of his. But who will hire someone who can’t control when they might make a strange sound or have strange tics and movements?

This is a touching movie, and many times throughout, I had to reach for a Kleenex. Brad’s mistreatment at the hands of ignorance (especially as a child) is hard to watch, especially as a mom. There are many great discussion topics in this movie including –

Treating others as you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12)

Loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39)

Everyone is made precious in God’s site and no one is a mistake (Psalm 139:13-18)

God loves us, cares for us, and knows all about us (Matthew 10:30)

The heart is what is important  (1 Samuel 16:7)

When I asked my oldest daughter what most impacted her in the movie, she said “to just be yourself.” That is true – Brad was himself and people slowly began to see that he was a kind, caring, and generous person who happened to be born with a disorder.  While this is not at all a faith-based film, it is clear to see that the Lord used Brad’s difficulties with Tourette Syndrome to make a difference in the lives of others who struggled with other health-related issues.

This movie is based on a true story, and I would highly recommend this film, which contains nothing objectionable, for tweens and older (those younger than eight or nine may not understand the plot line).  For more information about Tourette Syndrome, please see the Tourette Syndrome Association website.

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.

Be yourself

Movie Monday – Ramona and Beezus – 6/4/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s Movie Monday family night movie suggestion is Ramona and Beezus…

Having grown up reading the Ramona books, I couldn’t wait to watch this movie. I wasn’t disappointed. This movie is great, clean family fare. There was nothing objectionable and I applaud the producers for creating a movie the entire family can watch. There were a few scenes, such as Ramona dangling over a canyon that might be scary to very young children (under 5).

There are wonderful discussion-starters throughout the movie. For instance, Ramona always feels the need to compare herself to her older sister, Beezus. Beezus, of course, sees Ramona as nothing more than a pesty little sister who is always causing trouble. How many children could identify themselves with either Ramona or Beezus?

Some of the other children in the movie don’t treat Ramona kindly and they laugh at her on more than one occasion. While this movie is not a Christian movie, it did give me the opportunity to remind my children that no matter how the world sees them, it’s who they are in Christ that matters. Ephesians 2:10,  John 1:12, and 1 Samuel 16:7 came to mind. Strong family bonds and joining together when times are tough was also a good discussion starter. Family members may not always see eye to eye, but when critical matters arise, unity is crucial.

Full of humor, a strong love expressed by family members for each other, some touching parts, and a bit of romance, make this a movie I would highly recommend!

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.