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

May 2014 – ‘Moms’ Night Out’ not for kids
Moms’ Night Out, the latest film from the Erwin Brothers (October Baby), takes a lighthearted yet heartwarming look at the important role of motherhood amid all its day-to-day demands. And along the way, it gives viewers countless laugh-til-you-cry moments.

Parents should be aware that the movie includes some instances of mild comedic violence, mild slang and an irreverent use of God’s name. The movie opens in theaters May 9, Mother’s Day weekend.  

Allyson (Sarah Drew), an over-stressed mother of three, feels like a failure in her compulsive struggle for mothering perfection. With two other moms, she plans a night out as a respite from the stresses of motherhood. Husbands agree to care for a gaggle of young children, apprehensive but determined to demonstrate their own parenting skills.

However, the peaceful, elegant evening Allyson planned goes awry, and instead, she and her friends find themselves in chaotic pursuit of a missing child and a stolen minivan, and reeling from muddled texts and voice mails from frantic  husbands at home (or the tattoo parlor or the hospital). 

The cast includes Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings trilogy), country music star Trace Adkins, Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), and Courageous stars Alex Kendrick, Robert Amaya and Kevin Downes.

Heaton plays Sondra, a pastor’s wife who has her own struggle with maintaining her image. Heaton shared with AFA Journal how Moms’ Night Out uses comedy to deliver a compelling message.

“One of the best ways to get people to respond is through humor,” she said. “Many movies are so message-heavy that it’s like getting beaten over the head. But laughter opens people up and softens people.” Moms’ Night Out certainly makes the most of humor in its fresh and engaging approach to a familiar subject.

Moms’ Night Out covers the bases and struggles of some moms who are busy trying to juggle everything and have a good marriage while still having some time for themselves,” Heaton said. “Like Allyson, a lot of us [in real life] get trapped into trying to be the perfect mom, working really hard to do the best for our kids, but it can feel like you fail miserably at the one thing you’re supposed to be doing. Moms’ Night Out shines a light on that and reminds us that perfection is not the goal of being a mom.”
Review by Stacy Long

Return to the Hiding Place
Generations have loved The Hiding Place, the powerful 1975 screen story of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom and their rescue of more than 800 Jews from Nazi slaughter during World War II.

Less well known is Corrie’s “Teenage Army,” a team of students who risked life and limb to assist the ten Booms. Return to the Hiding Place, scheduled for limited theater release May 23, reveals the heroic faith of young believers such as Piet Hartog and Hans Poley. 

It’s a story of strength and sacrifice, faith and courage, and yes, life and death. It’s chilling in the way it mirrors how evil man can become, yet thrilling in its portraits of true Christian heroes.

At the heart of the film is the essence of Christianity. Hans says it best in a conversation with a rabbi who has found asylum in the ten Boom home. He tells the rabbi he risks his own life for people he doesn’t know because “I want to follow my Master.”

Parents are cautioned: The subject is intense. Some scenes include gunfire and execution (though none include gory or gratuitous elements). Still, it is not appropriate for young children.

Return to the Hiding Place tells this story beautifully, setting the bar high for other filmmakers. It is superb on every level – writing, acting, production. Find theater locations and learn more at hide-movie.com.
Review by Randall Murphree

New music ministers to the grieving
Nashville songwriter Steve Siler recently released Drink Deep, a new project on which all lyrics were created to minister to those who are grieving. Music for the Soul is Siler’s apt name for the ministry he founded to offer healing, comfort, hope and encouragement through musical recordings that address very specific challenges of life. For example, earlier projects dealing with cancer, pornography and other addictions have had deep impact on countless lives.

“I know the power of music in my own life,” Siler said, “and I am passionate about using my gifts as a musician to minister to others in need.” His latest project will infuse strength and hope into the lives of those who grieve the loss of loved ones.

“These songs are written by people who have experienced such loss – or who have certainly done their research,” said J.J. Jasper, American Family Radio on-air personality. Jasper lost his 5-year-old son in an accident in 2009. He said, “All the elements and emotions of grieving are in these songs. They don’t soft-pedal the hard parts, but still bring a soothing calmness to the heart.”

Drink Deep is available at musicforthesoul.org, toll-free 877-214-7703, or 615-300-1607.
Review by Randall Murphree

Let God
Levi, the husband of young Amelia, has decided that they need to move west in search of gold and a better life. Amelia is heartsick over leaving her family and the only home she has ever known, but willingly follows Levi’s lead. After a short time with a wagon train headed west, Levi decides they need to venture out on their own. 

This decision makes them a vulnerable and easy target. When they are attacked, Amelia is able to hide in the wagon, but Levi is killed.

Let God, from Word Entertainment, begins with Amelia’s discovery that her husband has died and she is alone in a vast wilderness she knows nothing about. She is forced to learn how to provide food for herself, start a fire without flint or matches and survive the freezing cold of winter in the mountains. Ultimately, she is brought to the end of her own resources and strength. Out of desperation, she turns to God for help, and that help comes in a very unexpected way.

The story unfolds through flashbacks and is a portrayal of perseverance and faith in the midst of difficult, even impossible, situations. It has earned the Family-Approved Seal for all ages from the Dove Foundation.

Parents need to be aware of a few cautions, especially for young children. There are realistic depictions of fear, death, dead bodies along the wagon trail and two instances of blood. At times the story is slow and may lose the attention of older children. 

The trailer of Let God can be viewed at letgodmovie.com.
Review by Debbie Fischer

When Calls The Heart, Lost and Found
Episode one in the Janette Oke series, When Calls the Heart, Lost & Found continues the 1910 adventures of the high-society-raised Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow). As a new teacher in the Canadian frontier town of Coal Valley, Elizabeth is challenged with learning about frontier living, children who have recently lost their fathers in a mine explosion, mothers who do not think she is qualified to teach their children and a contentious relationship with the new Canadian Mountie (Daniel Lissing).

 As the town faces tragedy and loss, Elizabeth finds the hearts of the people are big, welcoming and giving. One widow in particular, Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin), takes Elizabeth under her wing, encouraging and mentoring her.

As a result of losing miners in an explosion, the mine plans to hire new miners and give them the widow’s homes. Out of a desire to give stability to their children and stay in the town they love, the widows decide to go to work in the mine themselves.

Elizabeth rises to the challenge to find a way to help them. She soon discovers how working together and being willing to sacrifice oneself for others aid in finding God’s true purpose in her life.

Lost & Found, directed by Michael Landon Jr., is family-friendly and great for all ages. The one caution is that it does portray a secular worldview concerning the purpose of trials and tribulations.

 A review of the series pilot can be found in the February 2014 issue of AFA Journal. The TV series is currently being shown on the Hallmark Channel. More information can be found at hallmark
channel.com
.
Review by Debbie Fischer

The Good of Marriage
From the beginning of creation, God called marriage good for individuals as well as for society at large. But today, marriage is in crisis, and our society is losing its value and purpose.

The Good of Marriage is an excellent four-part series produced by Summit Ministries and taught by Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries. In his teaching, Dr. Myers returns to Genesis to explain why marriage is good, why it is in crisis, and what Christians can do to restore its role in our culture.

Each lesson is about 20 minutes long and well suited for a group study, individual study or a Sunday School class. Included with the DVD is a study guide/facilitator guide that provides an overview and discussion questions for each lesson.

For more information or purchase go to summit.org/store.
Review by Debbie Fischer

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men 
To many, the role of motherhood is accompanied with a deep desire to “do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:6) But, for a new mom – along with the great hopes that her son will grow to be a strong, wise, lover of God – raising boys can be filled with fears of inadequacy and uncertainty. Though she is a pastor’s wife, Rhonda Stoppe still embraces the critical role of a mother in raising sons.

In this book, she shares insights from her experience, other teachers and the Word of God about how to influence sons to become mature, God-honoring men. She sees motherhood as a mission, a calling from God, and knowing Him intimately as a must in becoming a godly mother. He is the resource for the understanding and wisdom required.

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men will challenge moms to draw close to God and commit themselves to fulfill their God-given calling. More information can be found at Harvest Publishers website.
Review by Debbie Fischer