5 Favorite Inspirational Films
By Jesse Carey
CBN.com Interactive Media Producer
- This weekend, Fireproof was the No. 4 most popular movie in the country, taking in more than $6 million at the box office. The film, which was made by the same Georgia church that helmed the surprised hit Facing the Giants, tells the story of a marriage on the rocks, and how faith came to the rescue. In light of the movie's successful debut, we look at five other recent films that tackled values and family at the box office.
Dan in Real Life
This 2007 comedy starring The Office’s Steve Carell largely flew under the radar at the box office, but its emphasis on family and forgiveness is worth revisiting on DVD. Carell plays the film’s lead, a devoted father of three girls who are dealing with the recent death of their mother.
When the gang leaves for a family reunion, Carell starts to fall for his brother’s new girlfriend; the love-triangle comedy serves as the backdrop of a film that is really about family and forgiveness.
Like many of his characters, Carell’s Dan is a well-meaning guy whose devotion to his family is often a little misguided through awkward expressions of love and overall goofiness. But the message is one that everyone can relate to—families aren’t always perfect, but in the end, love conquers all.
The indie movie by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gomez Monteverde became a smash among critics who named it one of the top movies of 2007.
Bella tells the story of a famous soccer player who lost everything after a tragic accident, and is now a cook at his brother’s restaurant. When one of the waitresses finds out she is pregnant, the two strike up a friendship and spend a day discussing life’s hardship, the value of family, and ultimately, the healing power of forgiving yourself.
More than just the pro-life undertones or subtle messages of faith, one of the reasons why the movie was such a success is because it showcased things that many mainstream Hollywood movies often seem to ignore—purity and authenticity. There’s no pre-text to relationships in the movie, only the common bond of two people whose lives are changed in single moment and how the unbreakable bond of a loving a family can help you get through the tough times.
With its unabashed pro-life themes (there’s even an abortion clinic scene where an advocate convinces Juno to keep her baby) and quirky dialogue, Juno became a surprising Oscar darling, landing a nomination for Best Picture. And despite some dicey language and characters that are a little rough around the edges, the movie paints a moving (and funny) picture of teenage life.
When high-schooler Juno tells her parents that she has decided to give her baby up for adoption, the family thinks they’ve found the perfect couple in a pair of upper-middle class thirtysomethings who can’t have children of there own. Juno is forced to grow up fast when she sees that their relationship may not be what it seems.
Beyond just being about families and the importance of adoption when faced with teen pregnancy, Juno is also about maturity. The film shows that sometimes life requires us to make decisions that aren’t always easy, even when it’s the right thing to do.
We Are Marshall
Based on a true story stemming from the tragic 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people including the entire Marshall University football team, We Are Marshall is an underrated sports movie that takes a different tone than many football films. Unlike other gridiron dramas like Rudy, Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights, rivals on field are completely secondary to the real struggle facing the small West Virginian town that’s home to the school.
As a new coach petitions to revive the football program, students and friends of the lost team deal with a foe much more difficult than any opposing team--the grief that accompanies loss. And though the movie plays to some sports cliches, even non-football fans can relate to the deeper message of the movie. Themes of tragedy, pain, loyalty, and healing are what's really on display.
Walk the Line
Walk the Line is the true story of the rise of country music legend Johnny Cash and his romance with fellow singer June Carter. For fans of Cash, the story may be familiar, but even for viewers who don’t know the biography of the legendary singer, the film has universal values.
In many ways, Cash’s life resembled an American Dream gone wrong. Overcoming the death of his younger brother and escaping rural poverty, Cash rose through the music ranks with his baritone Americana style and Man in Black swagger, but beneath the shades was a pill addicted loner whose marriage had been destroyed by addiction.
But despite its heavy themes of self-destruction, Walk the Line is really about the redeeming power of love. After falling in love with fellow star June Carter (whom he would later record gospel albums with), Cash struggles to put back the pieces of his life. The film shows how through true love and family, salvation is never too far away.
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Jesse Carey is the Interactive Media Producer for CBN.com. With a background in entertainment and pop-culture writing, he offers his insight on music, movies, TV, trends and current events from a unique perspective that examines what implications the latest news has on Christians.
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