(Photo courtesy of Vivendi Entertainment)
UPDATE: Congrats to all three readers, who left comments for the "Letters to God" DVD giveaway. You each will receive a copy. Enjoy and be sure to have tissues handy!
And speaking of uplifting ...
Faith-based movie "Letters to God" has arrived on DVD, and wow is it both charming and a real tearjerker. Like, reserve a whole box of tissues tearjerker.
The movie, which opened in April and arrived on disc August 10 from Vivendi Entertainment and Possibility Pictures ($24.95), tells the story of 8-year-old Tyler (Tanner Maguire), whose daily struggle with cancer intersects with a local mailman's (Jeffrey S.S. Johnson) attempts to regain his own stability after a self-imposed crisis.
Tyler lives with his mom (Robyn Lively) and older brother (Michael Christopher Bolten) -- their father has already passed away -- and he writes letters to God as a way of communicating how he feels about the world around him. The letters are written with a child's unflinching honesty and are something that make some of the adults around Tyler a little nervous.
Nervous, in Brady the mailman's case, because he doesn't know what to do with them. Nervous in his mother's case, because she is understandably angry with a God who would do this to her son.
Faith-based movies, for me, are always tricky. Sometimes the themes can be overly sentimental and saccharine, and the focus on belief can obscure the nuances of how people really struggle with faith.
This movie, like the letters it spotlights, does not flinch from those struggles -- a credit to director David Nixon. For example, a child at Tyler's school says he looks like an "alien." (Tyler's friend Samantha, pictured above, answers that by shoving the kid's face into a plate of mashed potatoes!) Brady washes down his own demons with bottles of Jack Daniels. And Tyler's older brother is both hurt that Tyler is sick but also angry at all the attention he's getting.
While the situations in the movie are by definition dramatic -- what with a child and The Big C, after all -- the actors are all charming and have watchable chemistry. And while there are tearful moments, they are balanced with good humor and lots of positive -- that's not to say treacly -- dialogue.
And who doesn't love to watch a bully get mashed potatoes up his nose? Just sayin'.
I'm giving away 3 "Letters to God" DVDs. Just leave a comment below telling me you'd like to have one.
Good luck, and I'll announce winners Monday, August 30!