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

November 2013 – Hallmark’s boy-and-his-dog film bound to become Christmas classic
Christmas with Tucker, a heart-tugging, boy-and-his-dog story from Dave Alan Johnson, is scheduled to debut on Hallmark Movie Channel November 25 at 9 p.m. ET (8 CT). Hallmark puts this new film in the best of company, one among six of “the most wonderful movies of Christmas.” Other titles in this collection include classics from the 1940s, such as It Happened on 5th Avenue, and Babes in Toyland, a 1961 film featuring nursery rhyme characters.

AFA vice president Buddy Smith admitted to shedding a tear or two while screening Tucker, and he can’t wait for his grandchildren to see the movie. 

Johnson caught the attention of AFA 20 years ago with his family friendly television series Against the Grain and later with Sue Thomas FBEye and Doc

George is the boy in Tucker, and he has to learn to be a man too early in life after his father died in a farm accident. George is trying to fill his dad’s shoes on the family farm. He stays with his grandparents on the farm while Mom moves away to be near her daughters in college. 

Tension in the storyline is couched in the fact that Tucker, the dog, belongs to an alcoholic neighbor who mistreats him. Themes include the importance of family and responsibility, forgiveness, integrity and honesty, the dangers of alcohol abuse and the power of love. The movie is a prequel to the 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie A Dog Named Christmas

“I always try to make movies that are entertaining and engaging but also full of characters who uphold traditional Christian values,” Johnson told AFA Journal. “And I like to make movies that the generations can watch together.”

Tucker hits the bullseye. It’s bound to become a Christmas family favorite.
Review by Randall Murphree

Study from Widow Connection
Bob, Miriam Neff’s husband of 41 years, passed away after a long struggle with ALS. Miriam suddenly found herself starting a new role in life, that of widowhood. She discovered there were few resources for widows, and little comfort or support. In that sense of void, God began to work a passion for a new ministry to widows – Widow Connection. 

Widow Connection offers a DVD series called One Widow To Another, The Connection That Counts. This series is designed to help widows with their new and intense emotions of grief, fear, depression, relationships, finances and more. Each widow’s background and experience are different, and the series is meant to provide a basis for learning and healing through group discussion and personal reflection. Widow Connection’s One Widow To Another can help equip and empower widows to move forward into a positive future.

The series is designed for individuals or groups. Learn more at
Review by Debbie Fischer

Film tackles spousal abuse
When Faith met Joe in Story of Faith: Surviving Battered Woman, everything seemed great. He was romantic and sweet, and he seemed to love Jesus. But after they married and his motorcycle business began losing money, Joe started to turn more to beer than to God. He eventually started coming home drunk, beating Faith and sexually abusing their two sons.

The film is based on the life of Lucille Laurenzi, and it has a powerful story to tell. But lack of production value, slow pacing and poor acting often distract from the central message. 

While the themes of this movie are very serious, filmmakers handle them well and with modesty. Cautionary scenes include Joe drinking in several scenes and coming home from a bar highly intoxicated in the climactic scene. In the final confrontation, Faith and her sons are in Joe’s truck trying to get away from Joe. He pulls a pocketknife out and threatens them. However, these scenes are handled carefully, and no graphic violence is depicted on screen.
Review by Teddy James

The Reason for My  Hope
In The Reason for My Hope: Salvation, Billy Graham presents anew the basis for his faith and ministry of over 70 years. The first four chapters establish a foundation for Christian beliefs and for receiving salvation as Graham asks, “Who would refuse rescue?” 

The second half of the book moves into a deeper discussion of Christian hope and practice, using contemporary and historical examples, and concludes from the perspective of the coming return of Christ. 

“In these pages,” Graham promises, “we will see ourselves in this pursuit of hope that brings certainty if we embrace it. You see, it is not kept from you, locked away in a museum. It is made available and comes to you as hope from above.” 

The Reason for My Hope is intended to complement November’s My Hope America campaign from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In addition, Capitol Christian Music Group has released a related music album, My Hope: Songs Inspired By the Message and Mission of Billy Graham, based on themes from the book and featuring Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe, Matthew West and other Christian music artists.
Review by Stacy Long

Seven Men...
In Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness, Eric Metaxas offers a collection of short biographies that portray Christian manhood. Metaxas gives readers real-life, meaty inspiration without a hint of sentimentality.

With an uncluttered style that moves the stories along at an unbroken pace, Metaxas shows how faith in Christ led his subjects into lives of surrender, service and sacrifice. Those profiled are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and Chuck Colson.

Chapters are about 30 pages and suitable for personal inspiration or for reading aloud. Seven Men is available at local or online bookstores. 
Review by Rusty Benson