Movie Review: The Secrets of Jonathan SperryQuick Plot Summary: An older man befriends a young boy in the early 1970's and teaches him & shows by example the Christian faith.
Rating: Possibly Worthwhile
Suggested Ages: 8+
Okay this is a complicated movie for me to write about because how I ultimately feel about it depends on which lens I view it through. Let me start with my "adult lens".
The basic premise of the story is good - an older man that befriends a young boy and his friends and teaches them and shows by example the Christian faith. I think there's probably a part of all of us that want to see a movie succeed that portrays someone from an older generation really impacting and affecting the younger generation in such a positive way for Christ. I certainly do. But I honestly believe that the actual execution of this movie could have been SO much more than what it was. Instead, we get an almost entirely predictable story that tries WAY too hard to have the characters be exactly what the writers believe that they have to be, if you're following me. Realism was not something this movie portrays in most any way and some of the "Christianny scenes" were just plain borderline silly to me. And thus, sometimes when I see Christian movies like this, I wonder how much harm they actually can do because I can perfectly understand why a non-believer that were to see it would possibly just laugh right through it (at us "silly Christians" for producing such a film, that is!). To me, this is a pretty formulaic, contrived film that has quite a "cheese" factor going on and that all really turns me off (and LITERALLY almost caused me to physically turn off the movie). That's my adult lens.
But here's the thing. Many Christians do seem to like this film and I have to ask myself why. And I've realized if I view this movie through a family-friendly lens as a child watching this or a family with kids sitting together watching this, that my perspective changes somewhat. Kids tend to be a lot more forgiving and have less-awareness of "cheese factor" and unrealistic stuff (a lot of stuff aimed at kids throughout the decades has been similar), so from that perspective having a movie that shows preteen/teen boys (including a bully) coming to Jesus, reading their Bible, and then sharing their faith with others is kind of a cool thing. Having a movie showing a caring adult that cares for these boys and leads them in Bible studies and seeing the kids respond positively and act in such positive ways is kind of a neat thing, especially when you consider how many other movies are out there showing kids of the same age just running around acting and speaking terribly and wanting nothing to do with God. So if I was sitting there on a family movie night watching this film, I would probably be grateful there's a movie showing boys excited about reading the Word of God. Thus, cheesy and contrived or not, I become much more forgiving of this movie's faults.
So ultimately, I would say, yes, if you've got kids, this movie can be a perfectly fine family-movie night choice. If that's not your situation, you may not find yourself as enthusiastic about this film. I certainly don't think I would purposely ever show this film to adult non-believers - this to me is mostly just one for kids or adult believers and is mostly aimed at kids (but I would also never want to limit God...).
Reviewed by Christopher Long,