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

April 2011 – ‘The Potential Inside’ … action, depth, family, fun
This fast-paced film from Red Cloud Productions doesn’t begin gently or smoothly. No, The Potential Inside explodes at the starting line of a mountain bike racing course with Chris Carmick, longtime champ, bouncing across rugged terrain in the race for his life and his career. He and his chief nemesis trade leads and the tension mounts. Chris is in the lead, but suddenly has bike trouble.

Abruptly, the film flashes back six months. Stuck in an airport, Chris is going through another tense experience – a cancelled flight and an angry phone conversation with his wife Sara, as she berates him for missing another of their daughter Hana’s dance recitals.

At a subsequent press conference Chris announces his retirement. It appears that he has seen the light. But Sara is visibly stunned when he tells the media that he has “one big race left.”

“I thought Daddy wasn’t gonna race anymore,” Hana whimpers. Sara takes her by the hand and slips out of the room. Later at home, she gives Chris an ultimatum – family or career. He can’t have both. The stage is set for a riveting story that keeps one’s attention on several levels.

Marital strife, alcohol abuse (resolved), tragedy and grief, anger, bitterness, guilt, failure and faith are the issues stirred up in the life of Chris Carmick. Chris is played by Scotty Curlee, who co-wrote the screenplay with Martin Montgomery.

The movie returns to the race that opened the story, and this time, we see the ending. This film will easily captivate the Christian audience, but it will appeal to a broader audience as well. Those who grieve, who are angry at God, who are bitter, who fear life – all who face life’s challenges – will find courage and hope. The film will be available on DVD April 19 at or 800-326-4543, Option 3.
Review by Randall Murphree

Pro-life documentary intense, powerful
In this hard hitting, 1-hour-and-46-minute documentary, women from all walks of life and all ages tell their stories of abortion. The viewer follows them through 14 phases, from the first appointment at the clinic to the final process of healing and recovery.

Life After Abortion tells the unvarnished truth about the business of abortion. It exposes the lies and deception foisted on women who are scared, naive and uninformed. As one woman said, “They said my life would get back to normal again. Its never been back to normal again.”

In the closing a challenge is given to the clergy to have “courage to speak out against abortion, to do everything in our power to save the lives of babies.”

Viewers should be cautioned that there are discussions about premarital and extramarital sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide (with one graphic dramatization). The emotion expressed by these women is raw and heartbreaking, but deserves a wide audience. The DVD is available at
Review by Debbie Fischer

Of Gods and Men CAUTION
This French-made film (with English sub-titles) is the dramatic account of contemporary Christian faith demonstrated in the lives of eight Catholic monks living in an Algerian monastery and serving the Muslim village nearby. The movie is based on a true incident in the mid-1990s.

A radical Muslim terrorist band invades the area and kills farm workers. Subsequently, the French monks are ordered to return home to France. However, they all agree to stay where they have been called to minister. Unfortunately, the F-word and one other profanity mar the otherwise acceptable script.
Review by Randall Murphree

Soul Surfer CAUTION
Affirm Films presents the story of Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003. Hamilton grapples with feeling God has taken everything away from her. With a star-studded Hollywood cast, Soul Surfer’s acting is superb, and its Hawaii setting is breathtaking.

As amazing as Hamilton’s story is, there are a few things parents need to be aware of. The shark attack itself is not graphically portrayed, but blood comes from Hamilton’s shoulder and spreads in the water. The scene may be too intense for small children. Also, being a surfing movie in Hawaii, almost every female wears a bikini. There is much skin throughout the film.

Scripture is sprinkled throughout the film, as it is in the lives of the Hamilton family. The film shows how easily people can make an idol of anything and what happens when that which is most important to us is taken away.

It also shows how God can pick up the broken pieces to make our lives better for the experience. Soul Surfer comes to theaters April 8.
Review by Teddy James

'A Shine of Rainbows' worth the watch
A Shine of Rainbows is the tender tale of a vulnerable and shy eight-year-old orphan who comes to live with a childless couple on a rural, wind-swept island off the coast of Ireland in 1963.

Maire and Alec adopt Tomás from an orphanage where the fragile boy was frequently bullied by schoolmates.

Tomás’s love for Maire and his new home blossoms as her motherly kindness draws the boy out of his emotional shell. However, Alec is disappointed that Tomás is small and weak, and is reluctant to embrace him as a son. This lack of relationship between Alec and Tomás is the story’s main source of tension.

The film uses numerous symbols of hope including a seal pup stranded on the beach, rainbows and a brightly colored scarf and tablecloth. These elements help move the story toward a dramatic climax in which Tomás almost drowns while taking the baby seal back to its family.

A Shine of Rainbows is well done, the cinematography excellent and the music authentic. It contains no objectionable language. Alec and Maire are shown twice (briefly) being physically affectionate. Alec smokes a pipe, and in one short sequence uses alcohol to cope with grief, but he appears then to quit drinking.

There is no overt Christian content in the film, but there are moments from which parents can make a gospel connection. The most notable is when Tomás asks Maire why she chose him from among the children at the orphanage. Maire responds, “Because I loved you.”

Conversely, some parents may want to correct for young viewers Maire’s fanciful myth that the seals can take messages from the living to dead loved ones.

A Shine of Rainbows is based on a novel by the same name by British author Lillian Beckwith. Filmed in 2008, the DVD was to be released March 15 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Review by Rusty Benson

Heaven’s Rain CAUTION
True story: At age 27, Brooks Douglass became Oklahoma’s youngest state senator and became a leading advocate for victim’s rights. When he was 16 and his sister Leslie 12, two men knocked on the Douglass door and asked to use the telephone. The men murdered the Douglass parents and repeatedly assaulted Leslie. They shot all four family members, but Brooks and Leslie survived .

This docu-drama is written and produced by Douglass himself and Paul Brown. It is R-rated for the intensity of subject matter and its depiction of the murder scene (after the fact; no graphic action shots). Tobacco and alcohol use occur over the dinner table, and God’s name is used in vain twice.

One redeeming element occurs years after the crime as Douglass meets with one of the convicted murderers in prison.
Review by Randall Murphree