13 September 2015

Movie Review: “Where Hope Grows”

Rated: PG-13 for thematic issues involving drinking and teen sexuality, and for brief language and an accident scene
Starring: Kristopher Polaha, David DeSanctis, and McKaley Miller
Released: 2015
Synopsis: Calvin Campbell (Kristopher Polaha) was once a big-time Major League Baseball star, but one big mess-up after another has left him an unemployed single father with a serious drinking problem.  With his daughter hanging out with the wrong crowd, Calvin seems to have hit a wall…until he meets Produce (David DeSanctis), a grocery store employee with Down syndrome.  Despite his condition, Produce is wise beyond his years, and the two soon become friends…but, Calvin just can’t slay his bad habit.  Just when things take a turn for the absolute worst, hope seems to grow in the most unlikely place.
Also starring Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) and Alan Powell (The Song).

The Good: This Christian-themed film is unlike any I’ve ever seen.  Too many “inspirational” movies have an ending that’s too pat; this one doesn’t.  Without giving away too much, I can tell you that, by the time the credits roll, you’ll see that God doesn’t always give you everything for which you ask.  The actors all did very well, and, as someone with a condition of sorts myself, I was glad to see a movie featuring a positive portrayal of someone with Down syndrome.

The Bad: While this is better than usual for a Christian film, it’s also a bit harder-edged than you might expect.  About six or so profanities creep into the dialogue, and references to sex as well as a teenaged girl nearly getting raped are also present.  Viewers who are too young or too sensitive may want to avoid this one.  Also, despite her name and picture appearing on the cover, Danica McKellar only gets a scant few minutes of screen time.  The classic television fan in me would have liked to see more of her.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Kissing, a few references to sex between teenagers, and a near-rape; the latter two are vilified.  The montage during the closing credits has some mildly suggestive dancing. 2/5
  • Nudity: None. 5/5
  • Language: One or two uses each of the h-word and d-word; a misuse of God’s name and the acronym “B.S.” are also heard.  Name-calling is heard, but vilified. 3/5
  • Violence: One guy punches another guy; one guy hits another guy with a fire extinguisher, leaving him with an (implied) serious injury; a bloody operation scene; a car accident that eventually proves fatal. 2/5
  • Drugs: Alcoholism throughout; yes, it’s vilified. 3/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Along with the violence and near-rape, Calvin’s alcoholism leads him to act rather angrily towards Produce, which could be freaky for some kids. 1/5
Conclusion: This movie is a breath of fresh air for Christian movie fans; it’s not only different from what we’re used to, it’s better.  If you’ve grown tired of Biblical epics and way-too-squeaky-clean dramas, you should see this one; you’ll probably enjoy it.

Score: 4.5/5

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