Spring is right around the corner. Yep, good old March ushers in the sunny days of greening lawns, budding trees and blossoming flowers. Of course, it might also usher in an ice storm that’ll sweep the country and keep folks locked indoors all the way from Washington to Alabama. I mean, Alaska does hold the Iditarod in March, too.
So, if you’ve got some spare time after enjoying the fresh outdoors—or maybe while sledding around in the open ice fields of Unalakleet, Alaska or Decatur, Illinios—and you’re wondering what to stream on your smartphone, let me suggest a few shows. They’re all focused, in one way or another, on someone’s belief.
Let’s start our list with a small, but very well made, pic that slipped unseen under a lot of cinematic radars this past fall.
An Interview with God (NR, 2018) An up-and-coming journalist named Paul returns home from covering the war in Afghanistan and finds that his marriage is failing and he’s in the grips of a personal crisis. But then Paul is offered an interview that he finds impossible to resist: There’s a guy who claims to be God and he wants to talk.
Plugged In didn’t cover this film when it was released, but it’s a good one. It stars Brenton Thwaites and David Strathairn, two recognizable actors at the top of their game. This compelling drama may not be something for the youngest in your family, but for teens and up it might raise questions about our relationship with God well worth discussing, or just mulling on your own.
And here’s a film about someone with faith of a different sort.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (NR, 2019) In actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut, a boy in Malawi has a dream to pursue: a life-saving one. His family and his village are suffering from a horrible drought and an impending famine. But young William has a dream of turning wind into water by building a wind turbine after reading about them in a library book.
Plugged In’s Paul Asay summed up his thoughts on this film this way: “Outside [of some] sporadic use of profanity, as well as some painful scenes that underline Malawi’s food insecurity and political unrest, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is remarkably clean and nicely affecting. And the father-son relationship here—while difficult at times—ultimately stresses two biblical teachings. Children, obey your parents; fathers, do not exasperate your children.”
OK, this next one might stretch the above-stated “belief” theme just a tad, but hey, Disney magic requires at least a little suspension of … disbelief.
Christopher Robin (PG, 2018) Once upon a time, in a Hundred-Acre Wood, there lived a bear called Winnie-the-Pooh. But this movie is the story of a boy named Christopher. He’s a boy who once loved that imaginary wood. But now he’s grown out of honey and heffalumps, tea parties and pinned-on tails. He’s an adult now. And Pooh and his friends must leave the Hundred-Acre Wood and pop into the real world of London to remind the adult Christopher Robin of the magic and joy he’s left behind.
“Christopher Robin is a fun movie for kids, no question,” Paul Asay said in his review. “On one level, it’s a light, spirited adventure story, one that eschews bathroom humor and winking adult asides almost completely. But all that said, this film wasn’t made just for kids. It was made for us, too—the adults who fret about our own Very Important Things.”
Let’s turn to Hulu for the next selection on this month’s list.
If you’re looking for another well-made faith-focused film, here’s one that made it to the top of many lists, including our very own Plugged In Movie Awards.
I Can Only Imagine (PG, 2018) In 2001 the MercyMe song “I Can Only Imagine” surged to become the biggest-selling Christian single of all time. And even though that band’s frontman, Bart Millard, scribbled out the tear-jerking tune about being with Jesus in heaven in just a few minutes one emotion-filled night, its inspiration was a lifetime in the making. This film shares that story.
Reviewer Adam Holz said this about the film: “All of us have broken places inside. All of us stand in need of redemption. All of us have hurt others, and been hurt by them. And I Can Only Imagine paints one picture of what working through that hurt—admittedly, a very dramatic variety of it—might look like. It challenges and inspires me to forgive others and to ask for forgiveness myself in the ways I’ve failed others.”
Amazon? Sure, we’ve got some streaming family fare to share there. Let’s go TV this time, shall we? You want to stream? How about nine whole seasons worth?
Little House on the Prairie (TV Series 1974–1983) This long-running drama based upon the “Little House” series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, follows the lives of the simple, farming Ingalls family: Charles, Caroline, Mary, Laura, Carrie and then Grace, all of whom settle into a quaint little house on the banks of Plum Creek near the small town of Walnut Grove during the late 1800s.
This Michael Landon-starring show was a favorite of gazillions of viewers in its day. And the show still serves as a TV high-water mark for many. Family adventures and lessons and some lightly faith-focused messages abound.