With all the talk about movies measuring up or falling short, Gretchen thought it would be a great idea if we would review movies we've watched or talk about how to choose what is right for our family. Therefore, Monday's are now "Media Mondays" for me (at least as often as I can work out the time to get it done!).
Kevin and I watched an amazing movie on Saturday night called To Save A Life. It's rated PG-13. I think it's a GREAT family movie for every family with a teen or anyone that has teens in their lives. It's amazing. However, it MUST be watched with the parents and you BETTER be ready to have MANY discussions about things that are in it.
Typically, this is NOT a movie I would allow my daughter to watch. It has curse words---about 4-5 "milder" ones (if there is such a thing!), one of which is said during a scene in a church. It deals with VERY REAL worldly issues that teens face. There are VIVID scenes of underage drinking, beer pong, sexual immorality (though the camera turns away before being explicit...most of it is alluded to and your imagination fills in the rest), unplanned pregnancy, abortion, drug usage, disillusionment with religion, school violence, divorce, parental infidelity and suicide. WOW----that is some pretty heavy stuff. Why on earth would I recommend the movie, especially when people know HOW VERY picky I am about things like that in our home?
The movie takes those REAL life experiences and follows the main character through living that worldly life with emptiness and confusion and shows him finding his way to God in the process. It tackles those "REAL" issues head-on instead of sweeping them under the carpet. It shows what kind of temptation our children are faced with. It shows a very real struggle with good vs. evil, worldly vs. godly.
I am an ABSOLUTE advocate for sheltering our children for as long as we can and from as many things as possible, but at the same time you can't hide them from the truth of what the real world is like or they will never know how to handle it. This movie, for us, is the perfect way to let that happen. We see the characters make bad choices and we see the results. We see them find that the only way to live life in the end is to turn their lives to God and let Him lead them the rest of the way. THAT is what we want our daughter to see by watching the movie. We see the main character desperate for finding what is missing in his life and finding it. It isn't handled as "find God" and everything is perfect from now on either. I LOVED that message from the movie. God isn't a magic pill to fix every problem. However, he finds that God can give him the strength to clean up his messes and start life new. It shows him visibly struggling with his decisions.
The other thing I recommend the movie for is the main message that comes from the title of the movie. It's a visual reminder of the REAL pain so many of our teens are facing and how desperate they are for someone to love them. It shows how one teen can REALLY make a difference and how a world can really be changed when they come together. It shows how it feels to be on the "outside" and judged. It shows real emotional struggle and how our actions can really change some one's life.
You can read a VERY detailed review here. We use this website from Focus on the Family before watching any movies as a family and many times before Kevin and I watch one ourselves.
The main thing is, this is NOT a movie we would normally chose for our daughter to watch due to it's graphic nature (in our opinions, though mild to most of her peers!). We watched it first and made the decision that based on the OVERALL message that it is something we want her to see. We look forward to the discussions it will open the door for. We look forward to her seeing how God can really take some of the worst situations and turn them into something beautiful. We look forward to letting her see an example of how SHE CAN change the world with the heart that she already has. We can show her the "real" world in a safe manner and let her ask questions and talk to us about how she feels.
Even if you don't think you want your teen to watch the movie or don't have teens in your home yet, I highly recommend watching it. It even made me stop and think about my own decisions, my own faith and struggles. As parents, we need to know what our kids are facing and what "normal" life is like for them. We need to be reminded of how hard it is to grow up. It was an excellent, thought provoking movie for us. The "worldly" aspects were acceptable to us because the whole point of the movie was to show God's redemption and the healing he brings to a hurting world.