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Movie Reviews


Forever Strong
Rated:   PG-13
Director:   Ryan Little
Staring:   Sean Faris, Penn Badgley and Gary Cole
Reviewed By:   Kevin Swartzendruber

Recently my family sat down for family movie night and watched Forever Strong. Forever Strong is a film inspired by Highland Rugby’s legendary coach, Larry Gelwix and his unconventional training methods. The film revolves around high school rugby player, Rick Penning (Sean Farris) and his transformation while playing for Highland Rugby.

Rick’s father (Neal McDonough) is a rugby coach who wants to win at all costs, and the result of his attitude is obvious in his players, including his son. Rick parties and lives recklessly, landing him in a juvenile detention center. Marcus (Sean Astin) convinces Rick to play for rival rugby team, Highland, coached by Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole) and finds his attitude and style of coaching are vastly different from his father’s. When Rick is released from the juvenile detention center he must choose whether to return to his father’s team, and his former ways, or continue to play for Highland and begin a new life.

Whether you are a sports enthusiast or not, if you are looking for an inspiring and wholesome family movie this is it. Forever Strong is a story about family, unity, honor, integrity, responsibility and reconciliation. The story is compelling, the actors realistic, and the plot riveting. While the issues of partying, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, are addressed, the scenes are relatively short and bring realism to the film. If you have much younger children, you may want to watch these scenes to determine if they are appropriate. However, most preteens and teens confront such scenes and worse while hanging out with their friends or while attending school. Forever Strong will give them something to think about as the choices between a reckless and meaningful life are presented. This movie is worth watching.

Magdalena: Through Her Eyes
Rated:   NA
Director:   Charlie Jordan Brookins
Staring:   Brian Deacon, Guy Birtwhistle, Rebecca Ritz, Gigi Orsillo and Shira Lane
Reviewed By:   Kevin Swartzendruber

Magdalena, a new film from Campus Crusade for Christ, was created to reveal the story of Christ from a fresh perspective of a woman’s eyes. This 82 minute film takes the viewer all the way from the earliest records of creation to the resurrection of Christ, with biblical integrity, building a strong foundation of the need for Christ’s atonement. Mary Magdalene narrates the story, touching on the highlights of Christ’s ministry from a perspective only a woman could fully appreciate.  From Mary’s deliverance, to the woman found in adultery, to the Samaritan woman at the well, viewers will be moved by the great compassion of Jesus. Other highlights include the raising of the widow’s dead son, the resurrection of a dead girl, the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, and Christ’s crucifixion in front of our Lord’s mother and Mary Magdalene.

True to the intentions of the project, women were solicited for every step of the process, from the writing of the script, to the directing and even production of the film. Magdalena presents possibly one of the most efficient and clear presentations of the gospel as I have ever seen in a film, yet with a focus uniquely suited to the sensitivity of women. People all over the world still need the timeless message of a Savior. If you have friends, family, or even acquaintances in need of freedom from sin and hopelessness, Magdalena would make a great gift. With Resurrection Day & Mother’s Day just around the corner, Magdalene: Through Her Eyes is the perfect gift to nudge a lady closer to our Savior.



Special Event:

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Field of Vision
Rated:   G
Staring:   Faith Ford, Tony Oller, Joseph Adler, Alyssa Shafer, Philip Casnoff, L. Warren Young, Dane Davenport
Reviewed By:   Kevin Swartzendruber

Through mysterious footage captured on an old malfunctioning video camera, Sinclair High School's star quarterback, Tyler McFarland, learns that some of his teammates have been bullying Cory Walker, a troubled new transfer student. Aware that sharing this information with the coach might get his friends kicked off the team and ultimately cost the school the state championship, Tyler must choose what's more important: winning or doing what's right.

As these events unfold, the camera also reveals more surprising footage to Tyler's kid sister Lucy. She learns that Cory has a secret past, unknown even to him. Now Lucy must convince her mom (Faith Ford, Murphy Brown) and family that the camera's revealing insight is not a product of her imagination as she enlists their help to find the answers Cory so desperately needs. It's a compelling and intriguing story that shows both the challenges and rewards of doing the right thing even when it's tough to do.

Having been a new student several times, I can tell you that it is never easy to change schools. Cory has even more to deal with as he moves into a new foster home after the death of his mother. After making the football team, Cory becomes friends with Tyler, the star quarterback. As a new member of the team, he is immediately faced with bullying from some of the best players on the squad.

Although soft spoken, Cory faces the bullies and stands for his rights. As he becomes friends with Tyler's little sister Lucy, he finds out what is in store for him both with the team and in his personal life. He soon finds out that Lucy has a video camera with insights into the future.

This film is perfect for kids of all ages, not just teens, with lessons about bullying, building strong friendships, and the benefits of telling the truth even in when it’s difficult. My nine year old son, who is easily distracted, watched intently throughout the movie. Even at his age he’s been forced to face many of these same situations. If your children haven’t confronted this issue yet, they more than likely will. If you are looking for a clean movie that the whole family can watch, this is it. If you want children prepared to face this issue, it’s a must see.

Sex: None
Language: None
Violence: Boys bully another with some pushing and shoving.
Drugs: None
Nudity: None
Other: None

Playing: June 11th, 8/7c NBC



Mom's for Family TV:

Dove Foundation Review:

The Mighty Macs
Rated:   G
Director:   Tim Chambers
Staring:   Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn, Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz
Reviewed By:   Kevin Swartzendruber

The Mighty Macs is a 2009 film by director Tim Chambers. It stars Carla Gugino in the lead role of Cathy Rush, a Hall of Fame women's basketball coach. The film premiered in the 2009 Heartland Film Festival and was released theatrically in the United States on October 21, 2011 through indie film label Freestyle Releasing.

The Mighty Macs was filmed in 2007, but not released until 2011 due to the difficulties of finding a distributor. The director, Tim Chambers, had a potential distribution deal with Disney, but turned it down because Disney wanted to add coarse language to earn a PG rating, but Chambers preferred to go for a G rating. He worked out a deal with Freestyle Releasing, and the move opened four years after completion.

The story is set in 1971 as Cathy Rush, a woman ahead of her time, takes a job as the head women's basketball coach at Immaculata College. Rush faces the challenge of trying to compete against perennial powerhouses. Little does she know the financial difficulties that plague the school. With scant resources, and some initial resistance from Mother St. John (Ellen Burstyn),
 she manages to to turn a team of undisciplined girls into a cohesive, winning unit. Seven members of the 1972 Immaculata championship team appear as nuns in a church scene.

With so little to choose from in family movies these days, The Mighty Macs was a welcome relief. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but it seems like the term "family entertainment" has endured a not so subtle change in the last decade. Whether I'm flipping through Netflix, Redbox, or On Demand cable selections, it seems I only find movies appropriate for adults or very young children. Resisting the lure of Disney's clout in favor of releasing a film appropriate for all ages, director Tim Chambers has struck the perfect balance for family entertainment. Instead of stumbling across suggestive scenes, course language, or gratuitous violence; you will find an inspiring story, with solid acting, and a return to strong values. Independently produced and distributed films are not necessarily known for their high quality acting. I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. This is not the "cheesy" acting you might expect from many alternative family shows. Take a breath, curl up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn, and enjoy. The Mighty Macs is definitely a winner.

The Mighty Macs DVD (releases 2/21/12)