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MOVIES: … I’m thankful for

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — Numerous films have enriched me either through amusement (“The Nutty Professor” with Jerry Lewis; “The Mouse That Roared”; “Dr. Strangelove”; “The Great Race”) or by including the theme of God’s grace (“Amish Grace”; “The Passion of the Christ”; “Places in the Heart”), but for this Thanksgiving I wanted to feature movies that prompt me to be grateful.

At first, they may seem odd choices for the Thanksgiving holiday, but ultimately each of these films emphasizes the need for us to treasure our blessings. So, after the scrumptious feast and the big game(s), hopefully one of these selections will complete a satisfying day with kith and kin.

“Little Boy” (2015)

An 8-year-old wants his dad home from the war and he’s told that if you have faith even as little as the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. He wonders, however, how do we get that faith? Gutsy and profound, Little Boy reminds us that the faith of a child can be more powerful than whole armies.

It also reminds us that prejudice is something taught and, once taught, is very hard to unlearn. Little boy is rated PG-13, mainly for name-calling. During WWII most in America used a slur when referring to the Japanese. And Japanese-Americans lost rights simply because they had the “face of the enemy.” The film points this out in an attempt to see that such injustice never recurs.

A solid cast is led by a child, with young Jakob Salvati’s poignant portrayal reminding us to be thankful for faith, which is God’s path to an eternal relationship with Him.

“Raising Helen” (2004)

Kate Hudson plays Helen, an up-and-coming assistant to a modeling agency boss (Helen Mirren). But her career plans are put on hold after her sister (Felicity Huffman) and brother-in-law are killed in a car crash, leaving her to care for their three kids, ages 5, 10 and 15. She gets help from another older sister, the bossy Jenny (Joan Cusack), and a kind-hearted pastor (John Corbett), who falls in love with Helen while guiding her down life’s new path.

Raising Helen is one of the few-and-far-between films the Christian community is always saying they want: witty, involving, even perceptive, one without crudity, profanity or exploitive sexuality. And it presents a man of the cloth in a good light.

It’s a film that reminds us to be thankful for how God can bless us through our families. (PG-13)

“Wall-E” (2008)

In this ecologically themed animated family film, a lone robot has been left behind on a futuristic Earth. Once rescued by a spaceship where he is exposed to humans for the first time, Wall-E comes to accept mankind’s frailties and learns to love them.

The most original, fun film of that summer, Wall-E is both funny and touching. It contains an overall sense of wonder missing in many films aimed at families. Every detail has been given loving and experienced detailing by Disney and Pixar studios. From the animation to its score (incredible use of music that aids in telling the story) to the directorial pacing, no detail has been overlooked.

While there’s no overt religious theme, Wall-E does remind us to be grateful for that which is more valuable than possessions — each another. (G)

“The Genesis Code” (2010)

Could science and creation both be right? That’s the premise of this thoughtful spiritually-themed drama. By film’s end nonbelievers will certainly have to consider what the faithful already know –– God created science.

This is a perceptive view of how we came to be. Though it has somewhat of a made-for-churches feel, it is nonetheless theologically absorbing. And despite the fact that veterans Louis Fletcher, Ernest Borgnine and Fred Thompson have little to do in the film other than lend their names to a cause they must have believed in, young actors Kelsey Sanders and Logan Bartholomew do a nice job as the protagonists. Directors C. Thomas Howell and Patrick Read Johnson keep the action going at a good pace.

What’s fascinating about this production is the presentation of a theory that mixes together both science and creation. It examines how life could have happened in six days — that’s six days in God’s time. In an age when the Big Bang and evolution are the central teachings found in academia’s science classes, The Genesis Code and its sequels are films that thankfully validate a creationist’s concept of how we came to be. Rated PG, I found nothing objectionable.

“This Is Our Time: To Seize God’s Calling” (2013)

Five friends (including Shawn-Caulin Young, “Thor,” and Erin Bethea, “Fireproof”) graduate from a Christian college and head out into the world believing they will aid their fellow man. But life will present its challenges.

The opening sequence with the group in their graduating garb reminded me of 1985’s “St. Elmo’s Fire” in that we were about to see comfortable kids heading into an uncomfortable world. There is a difference; our protagonists in This Is Our Time have a devout faith — one that will be tested and found true.

With good production values, This Is Our Time is a spiritually uplifting drama that has something in common with “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It encourages viewers to be thankful for the fact that we can affect the lives of those around us. Not rated, it’s suitable for 12 on up.

I hope you’ll enjoy one of these movie selections, and that you’ll have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh, and may I suggest — go easy on the stuffing … and the politics.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright