Redemptive Movie Reviews
Why do the great stories we find in movies seem to stir us and resonate with us so deeply? Because they are all sourced from the one great story. The larger story. Our story.
The giants of culture have been borrowing our story for years in the films they direct and produce. By identifying the redemptive stories embedded in all those great films, we feel like we are taking it back, one review at a time.
The Darkest Hour
With Hitler rampaging across Europe, the newly elected Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, must convince his countries leaders to not negotiate but stand in the face of tyranny. One of 2017's most redemptive films was also one of my favorites.
Rotten Tomatoes 85%/83%
This is one of those great redemptive stories that you can also watch with the older kids. A coach getting a final chance, Kevin Costner, gives the local migrant working children their best chance at a better life by starting a cross-country team. While trying to change their lives his life gets changed in the process.
Rotten Tomatoes 80%/88%
The true story of a 5-year old Indian boy who gets separated from his family on the streets of Calcutta, gets rescued through adoption by an Australian family, and then as a young adult goes on an unlikely journey to find his way home. A beautiful story of restoration and the power of a family's love.
Rotten Tomatoes 86%/91%
the company men
It isn't until Bobby Walker loses everything that he values (title, income, car, status) that he finally realizes what really matters. Once he finds out that what he values doesn't have anything to do with his job, he is able to go back to a similar role, but as a different and better man. He shows us that the necessary restoration of a person's life often comes on the other side of our most challenging seasons.
Rotten Tomatoes 67%/55%
The true story of a folk artist from Nova Scotia who takes a job as a housekeeper to survive. The awakened glory she finds in her painting not only changes her life, but gives her the confidence and currency to change the life of the man she works for and eventually marries. A beautiful story of restoration and the uncovering of a person's glory.
Rotten Tomatoes 89%/89%
we bought a zoo
From a desire to start over after the loss of his wife, adventure writer Benjamin Mee moves his two children to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo. A beautiful story of healing and restoration for Mee’s family, the zoo, and many others. Based on the true story of a zoological park in Devon, England. Appropriate for most of the family.
Rotten Tomatoes 66%/71%
The men in Tim’s family have an incredible secret; they can travel back to any point in their life. While time travel is a tried-and-true movie technique, this story takes a uniquely redemptive turn. At first Tim goes back to right the wrong of things in the past. But what Tim ultimately realizes is that he lives every day as if he were living it over again, there is no need to travel back in time at all. A great lesson for all of us.
Rotten Tomatoes 68%/81%
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Walter lives a very tedious professional and personal life and compensates by regularly daydreaming a more significant story. One small decision leads him on a life-changing adventure that leads him to life, love, and becoming a completely different man. One of the more uplifting and inspiring films in recent years.
Rotten Tomatoes 51%/70%
The Queen of Katwe
Phiona sells corn on the streets of rural Uganda when she discovers the game of chess at 10 years of age. A natural aptitude and the love and dedication of a coach help her develop into a champion and escape the impoverished conditions of her life. Queen is the powerful true story of overcoming unbelievable obstacles to find a better life. This one is from Disney and for the whole family.
Rotten Tomatoes 93%/87%
The Greatest Showman
P. T. Barnum is a serial entrepreneur in all the best and worst of ways. He is a man of compromised character who wants worldly riches and personal acclaim. This whitewashed Disney-like depiction, however, is a family friendly joy-ride from start to finish. An overriding theme of finding purpose and value in someone despite their limitations is the prevailing theme. I dare you to watch it and try to get the songs out of your head.
Rotten Tomatoes 55%/88%
isle of dogs
From the incredible mind of Wes Anderson comes a stop action masterpiece that is as entertaining as it is visually stunning. Despite the fantastical tale that provides backdrop to the story, the tale really is about a boy, the love of his lost dog, and his heroic quest to locate him. If you are a West Anderson fan, you’ve likely already seen it. If you haven’t, take the chance.
Rotten Tomatoes 91%/88%
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
A sadly overlooked tale about a Scottish ichthyologist and lover of salmon fishing who encounters a visionary sheik with a similar love and desire to bring the sport to the most unlikely of places - the deserts of Yemen. Though the tale is around the mission of bringing this project to fruition, it is really a story about a person really stuck finding faith, love, and a life worth living. If you loved Walter Mitty, you’ll really enjoy this one. Great date night movie.
Rotten Tomatoes 68%/64%
Okay, it is a cage fighting movie. Expect some violence and language and other adult themes. But also one of the most inspiring films you will ever see. Against impossible odds, the restoration of a broken relationship between two brothers literally takes center stage. The improbable tale about cage fighting that had my wife in tears and me choking them back in the unforgettable final scene.
Rotten Tomatoes 88%/93%
What happens when an undersized horse, an oversized jockey, a broken-hearted owner, and a crackpot trainer get together? Movie magic. The incredible true story of how three people and a horse cooperated in the restoration of one another and the inspiration of everyone in Depression era America. “You know, you can’t throw a whole life away just because it is banged up a little bit.”
Rotten Tomatoes 77%/76%
The Astronaut Farmer
Based on the true story of a man in Texas who planned to launch himself into orbit. This is well before some well-known billionaires decided to throw their hat in the same ring. Farmer still carries the childhood belief that he can be anything he wants to be. For him, that is an astronaut. Okay, so I can’t really recommend you watch the movie, it is pretty mediocre, but the trailer is fantastic. The adult realization of a childhood dream is beautifully redemptive, for all of us. “You are a fabulous father. You’ve got your family dreaming together.”
Rotten Tomatoes 58%/49%
Oakland A’s GM, Billy Beane has a problem. The budget he has to field a team is only a fraction of the teams he is competing against. But he makes a huge bet on Peter Brand’s mathematical approach by building a team with lower cost players to replace superstars in the aggregate. While thumbing his nose at 100 years of baseball tradition, his 2002 team wins 100 games, just misses the world series, and sets an American league record with 20 consecutive wins.
Rotten Tomatoes 94%/86%
Saving Mr. Banks
Pamela Travers is terrified of Walt Disney making her beloved “Mary Poppins” into a whimsical cartoon like other Disney movies she’s seen. She completely resists every attempt by Walt to win her over until Walt realizes something very important: treating the story well means treating Pamela’s own life story well. Rewriting a redemptive perspective on “Mary Poppins” is actually a work of healing in Pamela’s life. An incredible true story.
Rotten Tomatoes 78%/84%
This is the true story of how Molly Bloom’s career-ending crash in the U.S. Olympic trials triggered a series of events that led her to run the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade in Los Angeles and New York City. It definitely has some language and one pretty violent scene, but the redemptive climax of the movie involving Molly’s father is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a film. Extraordinary picture of how the father’s love can overwhelm anything.
Rotten Tomatoes 82%/84%
The Hundred-foot Journey
We all eventually learn that the success that the world offers doesn’t hold a candle to the fulfillment we find in love, family, and home. Hassan Kadam has to travel from complete obscurity to the pinnacle of culinary success in order to learn this simple lesson. A delightful family film that will leave you soul satisfied and possible searching for some good Indian food.
Rotten Tomatoes 69%/81%
When Frank Adler promises to give his niece a normal upbringing, he has no idea what challenges he will face once her abilities as a mathematical prodigy are revealed. A beautiful film about how the love of a parental role model can conquer anything. The scene where Frank teaches her about what it was like when she was born is one of the most touching scenes I have seen in a film in a long time.
Rotten Tomatoes 73%/85%
Safety Not Guaranteed
One of those small independent films that almost no one saw. A quirky caper with a truly odd-ball protagonist and a good ensemble cast of some really flawed people that all find a way to endear themselves by the end of the film. The film rests on this newspaper ad: “WANTED: Someone to back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done it once before.” Great surprise ending to this one.
Rotten Tomatoes 90%/80%
Million Dollar Arm
A nice little Disney film based on the true story of a down-on-his-luck professional sports agent who thinks that the most popular sport in one of the most populous countries in the world might be the source of the next great baseball player. The transformation of our protagonist from selfish opportunist to loving father figure makes for great viewing for the family.
Rotten Tomatoes 64%/68%