Vodcast: Miracles from Heaven and the Sticky Business of Message Movies

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Some movies seem more interested in pushing a point than telling a story. You know the ones I’m talking about! Some of you hate them (with plenty of online comments proving it), but other people do enjoy “message” movies, and sometimes passionately so.

So what is it about these films that get us riled up and push us onto “Team Message” or “Team Story”?

Today we’re tackling that subject and using a new movie, “Miracles from Heaven,” as our springboard into discussion. Bob Hoose, Paul Asay and I decided to sit down and verbally juggle the proverbial controversy balls around in a spirited conversation regarding this new film (which stars Jennifer Garner) and where it sits in the midst of one of the most heated debates of our Cinematic Age.

Who wrote this?

Jake Roberson is Plugged In’s social media manager and strategist. He’s the father of four children and husband of one wife, and he quite likes life that way. He also likes writing about entertainment, pop culture, dadhood … and food. He’s also a former Guinness World Record holder for participating in the largest hacky sack circle. Catch up with him on Twitter @jake_roberson

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my judgement, the vast majority of Christian movies come off as sappy and cheesy. Why? Why? Why? This movie was so refreshing because it was not. It was beautifully written,,staged, and acted, including and especially the child actors. Yes it was fully a Christian movie but did. It advertise or pretend to be otherwise, so how could it be criticized for that, which seem to,be the main comments of the secular reviewers. If you are a Christian, please go see this movie. I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Joy C. More than 1 year ago
It is so much deeper than just being cheesy, or having bad writing, or being bad technically (camera, costumes, make-up, etc).  It's shallow, and that deeply hurts the Christian witness of the depth and breadth of the human experience with Christ.  https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/christian-movies-why-gods-not-dead-and-faith-based-films-hurt-religion/
jake_roberson More than 1 year ago
A very important thing to be aware of, for sure. It's a topic that deserves a whole episode of its own at some point, I think. :-)
Jennifer Whitley More than 1 year ago
I liked what he said about Christian films being "cheesy." That's usually the way they make me feel. I've been a Christ follower for a long time and I find most of the Christian films embarrassing. "Risen" is well done and so was "The Passion of the Christ." Someone please tell me if there are others I'm missing.
Vic Zarley More than 1 year ago
A number come to mind that ought to be on your list: War Room (put out by the Kendrick Brothers). It's a message movie about the power of prayer but a very strong and believable story-line holds it together. 33 (about men trapped in a mine) has spiritual undertones and, ultimately, answered prayer. I don't believe God's Not Dead was cheesy. I've heard that God's Not Dead II is even better. You didn't mention what "cheesy" films mean to you so I have no idea what you mean by cheesy. Another film that moved my wife and I and is currently available on Pureflix, is Do You Believe. God bless you!
Jessica Maxwell More than 1 year ago
I actually am often in the mood for "cheesy Christian movies" often... I know weird.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Smith.

I don't object to a movie having some sort of message or deeper meaning (many of the really good ones do.)

But I can't stand to see mediocrity getting a pass because people like what it says to them. A bad-written story is badly written; I don't care what lofty ideals it contains.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great thoughts all around, guys, but I'm still not going to see "Miracles from Heaven."  Christian movies can be great (Risen), but so many of them make me cringe and wince (War Room).  Judging by the trailer, "God's Not Dead 2" falls into the latter category.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Smith.

They're already on a sequel? Agh!
Vic Zarley More than 1 year ago
Just wanted to chime in. War Room has moved many to change their closets into prayer rooms. It has encouraged many to get away from the very limited and flawed "self-help" attitude and move toward God's creative Presence through humble prayer. I cringe and wince when secular humanists say "I can do this. I don't need God". The message of War Room is so needed today. I loved it!
Kal El More than 1 year ago
I strongly agree that it's message is both timely and practical. I found the movie to have some very powerful moments. And I'll gladly admit I am one of those people you mentioned who felt prompted to use their closet as their war room and become more rooted in time talking with God.

That said, I think what Anon was referring to wasn't the value is the message but the quality of filmmaking.

In this area I feel a little mixed. I thought War Room was well done, and the best made Kendrick brothers movie yet, but I'll also acknowledge that for me it did have a couple of weaker moments, moviemaking-wise speaking.

I still thought it was excellent overall, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago

To Vic Zarley: You're right; there are much more significant things to cringe about.  Ooh.  You gave my gut a stab on that one, and I can't just let it go by.  Well done, and thanks.

At the same time (I can't resist), War Room could have been a lot better.  I like the Kendrick brothers and David A. R. White, but I'd also like to love their movies.  "Risen," "Old Fashioned," "Grace Unplugged," and "Soul Surfer"...these movies are better standards for Christian filmmakers.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not sure I can. Hange your mind but I am one who felt very embarrassed by poorly made Christian movies . I feel they hurt the cause. There is no reason they can't be well made. Having said that, Miracles is a major exception. The word "cheese" does not apply. This one was well made in every way. Try it; you will like it, if nothing else for its rarity.