"You show that you are a letter from Christ ... written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." Those words - which are featured in the closing caption of the movie - are from 2 Corinthians 3:3, and really serve as the basis for this entire project. It's the story of young Tyler, suffering from an incurable type of brain cancer, who deals with his affliction by writing letters to God - letters which end up transforming the lives of virtually everyone he knows and many people he doesn't know. Tyler becomes - in the words of Mr. Perryfield (who's played by Ralph Waite, who may be the only actor in this I was familiar with) - "God's warrior." I may not like that particular imagery, but I understand the sentiment, and the movie makes the point that a little faith can go a long way. In a way, the movie and the story is a living witness to Jesus' parable of the mustard seed.
That background aside, what of the movie itself? Frankly, it's not bad and it's not great. I think that people are going to end up judging this on the basis of their own belief or lack of belief in God rather than on the actual quality of the movie. Christians are going to love it and give it a lot of 10's; atheists are going to hate it and give it a lot of 1's. As with any movie of this type, though, the question that comes to my mind is why an atheist would want to watch it. As a Christian, I want to say honestly that there were parts of this movie that I really liked, and parts that I didn't care for at all.
To start with what I didn't care for (because I want to end on a positive note.) The movie hits every cliché in the book. It pounds away at every evangelical Christian theme over and over again. For a movie that in many ways is quite touching, it's pretty hard sell. It seems to be an evangelistic effort - which surprises me a bit since this probably isn't going to attract very many who are outside the faith to watch it. On the other hand, I suppose, "there's rejoicing in heaven over one ..." Really, though, it does go on a little too long. It's close to two hours long, and after a while it loses some of its impact just because it keeps making the same points repeatedly. In all honesty, this likely could have been cut by about half an hour without losing any of its impact - and might have had even more impact if it were cut by half an hour. Tyler's story is great - at least according to this he faced his death with great courage - but I wondered about the decision to end the movie with stories of people of faith who've recovered from cancer and are going on with life. That doesn't prove much. There are many stories of people without faith who've recovered from cancer, and many stories of people with great faith who don't recover. I fear that in the end those stories tended to blur the memory of Tyler's story, which to me offered a far more powerful witness to the importance of faith - that faith could give a young boy the courage to face his own death and still keep the needs of others first and foremost in his thoughts (because many of the letters he wrote to God were intercessions for others.) To me, that was far more important than the stories of the cancer survivors at the end of the movie. I also have to be honest and say that I was turned off by Brady taking over Tyler's moment at the end. I understand that it was a way of showcasing Tyler's faith and his impact on people, but it seemed to move the spotlight on to Brady at that moment - which was not where it should have been!
But there was a lot here I liked as well. I liked the movie's simplicity. There's nothing complicated about it. It's a straightforward story about faith, courage and transformation - and there's nothing wrong with that. From a Christian perspective, I liked the depiction of prayer in this. Those praying weren't praying especially for Tyler's healing - they were praying for strength and courage - for him, for themselves and for others. Surely that's what faith is about. As a pastor, if I'm dealing with someone who's dying or who's loved one is dying, I'm not going to pray with them primarily for healing; I'm going to pray with them primarily for strength. In that sense, the focus on Tyler's story makes the point that healing isn't always about the recovery of the body - sometimes healing is about the wellness of the spirit. Tyler's spirit was strong and healthy regardless of his body's condition. That was a good message. It seemed to me that this movie sums up why it is that Jesus spoke so approvingly of children and even used them as examples for adults - children can cut through the nonsense and see God where adults who are perhaps more jaded can't. They have simple and innocent faith and they know how to trust. Tyler becomes the example for those around him. "Become like little children," Jesus said. The movie helps explain those words.
It's not great; it's not bad. The performances were OK; the movie perhaps a bit too formulaic. It's heartwarming but not riveting; it's inspiring but maybe goes over the same ground too often.
Letters to God
Drama / Family
Letters to God
Drama / Family
A young boy fighting cancer writes letters to God, touching lives in his neighborhood and community and inspiring hope among everyone he encounters. An unsuspecting substitute postman with his own troubled life becomes entangled in the boy's journey and family by reading the letters. They inspire him to seek a better life for himself and his own son he's lost through his alcohol addiction.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 24, 2021 at 07:03 AM