Last week the Hubbie and I went to our first invitation-only movie preview. Not one of these sneak previews where you pay full price and go the night before a movie opens (really – what’s so special about THAT?). No – this was a free advance showing of the new movie “Gimme Shelter,” a movie with a strong Christian perspective, for the purpose of getting audience feedback and trying to get the word out.
The movie opens nation-wide THIS FRIDAY January 24. If you haven’t heard of it – don’t worry. I hadn’t either. Or maybe everyone else HAS heard of it, and I’m just living under a rock…..
At any rate……
I have to admit I’m always a bit cautious when it comes to Christian films. Christian movie-making seems to be where Christian popular music was about 30 years ago. At that time, Christians were just getting into contemporary music in a serious way, and they had a lot to learn. Some of the music was…..well, it was “just ok.” Eventually, though, some pretty good music started to appear. And today, it’s really good – excellent, in fact. But it would never have gotten where it is today without people like you and me listening to it, going to concerts, supporting it, providing feedback, etc.
So it’s important that you and I get engaged when Christian movies come on the scene. If we want to influence our culture for Christ, it’s very important. Sometimes the movies end up being outstanding – Fireproof is one example. Regardless, we need to support them and provide feedback if we are going to help Christian movies move toward excellence.
Based on all that, I went to the preview with cautious optimism. And it paid off – the move was REALLY good – and it quickly became apparent that this was a movie worth sharing with my friends!
So here you have it, my very first movie review
What’s It About?
The movie is based in reality, following the story of the “Several Sources Shelters” for pregnant teens in New Jersey, run by a woman named Kathy DiFiore. While you might be tempted to think this is just a story about teenage pregnancy, you would be wrong – it is SO much more. The story revolves around a girl known as “Apple,” whose mother is an abusive drug user. Apple has been in and out of foster homes, but as the movie opens, she is back with her mother, and it’s not working out. Ultimately, Apple makes a decision to run away and start her own life – but not without first attempting to connect with her biological father. We soon learn she is pregnant by a previous relationship. I don’t want to give away the whole story, so I’ll stop there.
While this is the story line, there are several different themes that are running throughout the movie, any one of which could be worthy of it’s own development. What that means is that when you get done seeing this, there is plenty to talk about with your fellow movie watchers!
Who’s In It?
You’ll recognize many of the key players:
Vanessa Hudgens – plays “Apple.” This role develops and morphs during the movie from angry, disturbed inner city teen to maturing mother. Hubs and I both marveled at the breadth of this role and how well she portrayed its various aspects. You may already be familiar with Vanessa – she’s best known for her role as Gabriella Montez in the movie “High School Musical,” although she has played in numerous other roles as well.
James Earl Jones – yes, THE James Earl Jones. He plays a chaplain who befriends Apple and eventually connects her with the shelter for pregnant teens.
Brendan Fraser – plays Apple’s biological father. Among his credits are the role of Rick O’Connell in “The Mummy” movies, which earned him multiple best actor nominations.
Ann Dowd plays Kathy, the woman who runs the shelter for pregnant teens. She’s previously acted in “Side Effects,” “Compliance” (Best Supporting Actress), and “Marley and Me” – among others.
Rosario Dawson plays Apple’s mother. Rosario has played Kate in the movie “Zookeeper,” Emily Posa in “Seven Pounds,” and numerous other roles.
Why You Should See This Movie
Here’s the bottom line – If you’re looking for a feel-good movie where you can just sit back and relax – this isn’t it. You WILL feel good by the end, but this movie will hit you emotionally, and will challenge your thinking.
There are plenty of reasons to see Gimme Shelter. Here are just a few reasons:
1. You have a friend who is not yet a Christian, but you’d like to start a spiritual conversation with them.
If you’re looking for a movie that will present the full Gospel message for you with no risk or effort on your part – forget it – you won’t get that with this movie. What you WILL hear are clear Biblical messages about how God is working for your good even in the midst of problems, and that being a sinner doesn’t mean you can’t be reconciled to God. You will see the Bible being used as a source of guidance. Trust me – if you want to start a spiritual conversation with your friend or family member, you’ll be set up perfectly for an after-the-movie conversation.
2. You know someone dealing with issues of teen pregnancy, drug use, physical/emotional abuse, or who has grown up in foster homes, etc., and would like to build a connection with them.
Again, inviting a friend who has dealt with these issues is a great way to get the conversation going. If you feel the time isn’t quite right, at least go see the movie yourself so that you can use it as a conversations starter later (“I saw this movie, and it made me think of you. Is this the kind of thing you experienced”? You get the idea…)
3. You’re considering ministry to folks in the inner city, in poverty, in the foster care system, etc.
You will likely get a much better appreciation for the challenges they face on a daily basis. You’ll also understand why well-intentioned efforts to help people often fail, and what makes for successful efforts. I’ve read several good books on the topic (like this one), but seeing it unfold on the screen before you really helps drive the points home.
4. You would like to see a real-life example of how God can take someone society thinks is a “nobody” to make a huge impact in the lives of many other people.
Do you want to do something really big for God, but don’t know how God could use someone like you? The movie will show a real life example of how God works. Not going to say any more….go see it for yourself.
5. You like movies that challenge you and make you think.
This is a good reason, but I put it last because in my book it’s the weakest reason of the bunch. A movie like this is too good to just see as a piece of art. See the movie. Think about the movie. But please….don’t stop at thinking. Do something in response to what you’ve just seen. Even if it’s just a first step….
Find More Information Here
You can check out the trailer at Gimme Shelter Trailer
You can also check out the story behind the making of the movie.
Gimme Shelter is rated PG13. It opens at theaters nationwide on January 24. You can find out where it’s playing in your area by going to its Fandango page.
Opening weekend is critical! The better the movie does that weekend, the longer it will play at theaters. So please – support this movie by seeing it. Invite your friends – and do something in response, whether it’s talking with friends about how God works through the tough times, or getting involved with someone who’s hurting right now.
I’d love to hear your comments. Are you planning to see it? Once you’ve seen it, what did you think?