Letters to God

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Letters to God is the story of a young boy with terminal brain cancer who works through his ordeal and exercises his faith by writing daily letters to God. It's inspired by the true story of Tyler Doughtie, whose father ultimately turned the story of his son's letters into a vehicle to champion prayer and God; he helped write and direct the film.

Given the sensitive nature of the real-life drama that inspired the movie, it's almost painful for me to say this, but the movie is a real cheese-fest. The melodrama soundtrack doesn't help, and the "Aw, shucks" acting of the kids in the film is distracting. I will say that television veteran Robyn Lively gives a more solid, relatively complex performance as the boy's mother, which I appreciated. But overall, there are just too many Mayberry-esque moments for me. A mailman who stops to play soccer with a kid on his route (and consequently gets cozy with the mom)? A neighborhood church that seems to be open at all hours of the night, complete with pastor and choir on hand? The lawns are manicured, the picket fences painted a fresh coat of white. Where do these people live?

The film does try to explore the "darker" side of trials by depicting the mailman as a struggling drunk who has just lost his son, but even that plot line is cliche-a soldier back from Iraq, he turns to liquor, loses his family, finds God.

This movie has "feel good" written all over it, and the movie's website urges churches to show this film to their congregations. I'm devout in my faith and about as religious as they come, but my fear is that this film is too busy preaching to the choir to have a serious discussion about struggle, faith, and prayer. The overly sentimental approach means a missed opportunity to truly inspire and testify to those who are farthest from faith and may need it the most.

Motherly Advice: This film is rated PG because of thematic material; the sick boy is young and kids may see too much of themselves in him. Parents might also be concerned about scenes of the mailman getting drunk and tearing up his apartment, as well as flashbacks of him getting arrested and his wife and child leaving him. A brief discussion beforehand would be sufficient to prepare young kids for that part of the story.

Stacey Nerdin-No Postage Necessary

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