Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

October 2006 – New ‘Flicka’ family 'Flicka" earns mixed reactions
Twentieth Century Fox inches in the right direction but falls a little short with its upcoming family-friendly release of Flicka, based on the children’s book titled My Friend Flicka and its 1943 film adaptation.

Set to open October 20 in theaters nationwide, Flicka stars country music artist Tim McGraw as a strict father who misunderstands his daughter Katy (Alison Lohman) and the passions that drive her to tame a wild mustang against Dad’s will. Disrespect and a bad attitude put a strain on Katy’s relationship with her father. In the end, the importance of family, love and perseverance surface through a dramatic encounter with the mustang that puts life into perspective for the entire family. 

 The film’s storyline is stirring, emotional and motivating. However, many viewers are likely to question the redeeming value of the film since Katy is never reprimanded for her disrespect. 

“A minor issue of concern is that I felt the plot vindicated the young protagonist’s dishonesty and disobedience (i.e. approved and rewarded) somewhat, all because she was passionate in her feelings for the family ranch and for ‘her’ horse,” said Jenni Parker, associate editor of AgapePress. “A protagonist does not have to be perfect, by any means; but when one does wrong, I feel there should be some sense of judgment imposed on that character, either through plot or dialogue.”

Although this does not happen in the film, a message of reconciliation is still clear, and the film can be commended for its family-friendly tone. However, the film is rated PG for language including several profanities, some of which were obviously dubbed out and replaced by less offensive words such as “heck” and “dang.” There is a factor of sensuality in the film, as seen in the females’ immodest dress and in multiple scenes of shirtless cowboys. Also, Katy’s bare back is shown while in the bathtub.

“These appeals to prurience have no place in family fare films, in my opinion,” said Steve Crampton, AFA attorney and father of six.  

Still, Flicka can be seen as a small, but positive, step for Hollywood when it comes to family-friendly fare. The wholesome intentions are good, but the actual content is still lacking – although some would agree it’s still worth seeing. 
Review by Rebecca Grace

Hidden Secrets
Tension, intrigue, strong characters and strong faith drive the story in Hidden Secrets from Pure Flix Entertainment. The movie will have a limited theatrical release October 6 and be available on DVD November 7.

Nine friends reunite at the funeral of their hometown hero, each one harboring his/her own secrets. But the death of Chris, a committed Christian, makes them rethink where their lives are headed.

Solid acting is the film’s strongest element. John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard), Reginald Vel Johnson (Family Matters) and David A.R. White (Mercy Streets) are standouts.

The movie opens with a startling scene hinting at suicide – probably too strong for young children. Believable character portrayals move the story forward, and dialogue deals with various issues, including sexual abstinence, abortion and homosexuality. Yet there is no foul language and the issues are handled with restraint. The Gospel message is clear and straightforward.

White, who also produced the film, said, “When we created Hidden Secrets, we wanted to do a movie that dealt with the modern issues that plague our society today, but from a Christian perspective centering around Christ’s forgiveness and His redemption.” Mission accomplished.
Review by Randall Murphree

How to Eat Fried Worms
“Deliciously disgusting” is how a Memphis, Tennessee, mother described How to Eat Fried Worms, a new film project from New Line Cinema and Walden Media. An adaptation of Thomas Rockwell’s book by the same title, How to Eat Fried Worms recently released in theaters nationwide and is guaranteed to make audiences smile, laugh, flinch and maybe even gag as they watch 11-year-old Billy Forrester (Luke Benward) attempt to eat 10 worms in one day.  

The feat is the result of Billy challenging Joe Guire (Adam Hicks), the town bully, on Billy’s first day at a new school, where he is teased from the get-go. In order to win the admiration of his new classmates, Billy makes a bet with Joe that he can eat 10 worms without getting sick. As the bet heats up, Billy has to muster up enough strength to silence his blabbering little brother, harden his weak stomach and shut his own big mouth. 

Themes of acceptance, forgiveness, courage, friendship and integrity become important as the boys learn the harm in judging and bullying others and the benefits of doing right. The ending is redemptive, and there are strong lessons of morality and a positive family dynamic.

“[So] I’m hoping that it’s not considered just a kid film, …” said Valerie Gould, mother of Alexander Gould, who plays the role of Twitch. “One of the things I love about this movie … is that it brings up a lot of discussion about how to treat other people. …” 

“Families will walk away having gone through a myriad of emotions, …” added Kenda Benward, mother of Luke Benward. “There are so many wonderful moments in this film, and I believe families will have a great time. …” 

And a great time it is to watch a film that focuses on the fun, simplicity and innocence of boys being boys. However, it is important to point out some objectionable content, most of it meant for humor although still unacceptable to some. There is one use of what sounds like the Lord’s name in vain as well as numerous instances of name-calling and references to vomiting. Boys are shown putting worms down their pants and shaking their bottoms. Some disrespect to authority is portrayed and words like “butt,” “sphincter,” “stupid,” “hate” and “punks” are used. Billy’s little brother makes several blunt comments about bodily functions and the male anatomy. 

How to Eat Fried Worms is rated PG for mild bullying and some crude humor, but it is free from sex, nudity and essentially violence, and makes for 98 minutes of laugh-out-loud family fun. Those with weak stomachs should be aware that the movie is flat-out gross at times. Gummy worms are not recommended as a snack choice while viewing this film. 

Here is what some of the cast and crew had to say about the movie when AFA Journal visited the set during filming:

“Forgiveness is so very important and so sublime. I hope it’s something people take away from this movie.” – Mark Johnson, co-producer
“The message of this movie is to overcome your fears and to try your hardest when you commit to something.” – Luke Benward as Billy 
“I hope they [viewers] are entertained in a non-cynical way. So many stories about children depict the children being smarter than adults or outwitting some big evil problem. That all seems far-fetched, and there is an innocence about … [this story] that I hope we preserve.” – Bob Dolman, screenwriter and director

Review by Rebecca Grace

First Love: A Historic Gathering of Jesus Music Pioneers 
In the midst of the turbulent cultural upheavals of the 1960s, a spontaneous revival called the Jesus Movement arose among the nation’s youth.

Hand-in-hand with that revival, as both a product of it and a driving force, came Jesus Music. As God touched the lives of folk singers and rock ’n’ rollers, these young men and women responded by surrendering their musical talents to the Lord.

Now, through First Love, an award-winning two-volume DVD, Christians can learn about the Jesus Music movement from some of those who blazed the Christian music trail. Artists include Barry McGuire, Jamie Owens Collins, Chuck Girard, Andrae Crouch, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Honeytree and others.

But First Love is much more than a history lesson. The testimonies of the artists are powerful, and their emotion is a heart-warming indication that they have not forgotten their true “First Love,” Jesus Christ.

The DVD also includes two CDs featuring live performances at the gathering by the artists. First Love is available through www.explorationfilms.com.
Review by Ed Vitagliano

Just for kids
BJ’s Teddy Bear Club and Bible Stories 
BJ’s Teddy Bear Club and Bible Stories is a new television series made up of short segments, each with a specific goal – teaching letters, numbers or shapes; telling a Bible story or just having fun. The series, designed for ages one to five, has earned praise from the Dove Foundation and airs on TBN, iLifetv and Daystar. 

BOZ the Green Bear Next Door
BOZ the Green Bear Next Door
is a leading children’s DVD series in the Christian retail industry. Each DVD, designed for ages one to six, contains three 15-minute 3-D animated episodes that teach faith-based lessons about topics such as eating healthy, exercising and personal hygiene. For more information or to purchase: www.bozthebear.com.