Movie Review

Letters to God

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material.

Reviewed by: Karl Heitman
CONTRIBUTOR

Excellent!
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Drama Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
April 9, 2010 (wide—900+ theaters)
DVD: August 10, 2010
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Featuring: Robyn Lively (Maddy Doherty), Jeffrey Johnson (Brady McDaniels), Bailee Madison (Sam), Maree Cheatham (Olivia), Tanner Maguire (Tyler Doherty), Michael Bolten (Ben Doherty), Ralph Waite (Mr. Perryfield), Dennis Neal (Lester Stevens), Cris Cunningham (Carl Landers), L. Derek Leonidoff (Pastor Andy), Christopher Schmidt (Walter Finley), Avery Sommers (Carol Wallace), Amanda Best (Jamie Lynn Byrnes), Andrea Conte (Miss Emily Holley), more »
Director: David Nixon, Patrick Doughtie
Producer: Mercy Creek, Possibility Pictures, Art D'Alessandro, Kim Dawson, Andre Dugger, Tim Grosshans, Rob Micai, Wayne Morris, David Nixon, Paul Sirmons, Tom Swanson, Sandra Thrift
Distributor: Vivendi Entertainment

“Hope is contagious. Given the right address, anything is possible.”

“Letters to God” is a breath of fresh air for people who are sick and tired of the type of films Hollywood is filling our generation’s mind with. It continually saddens me to see professing “Christians” recommend films that contain profanity, sexual promiscuity, and other worldly behaviors. Do not become numb to the things of this world, and do not forget that we are commanded to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

“Letters to God” is inspired by a true story about a boy who’s dying of cancer. The sick boy is living with his single mom, teenage brother, and grandma. Together they are trying to cope with the reality of disease and death, and how it relates to faith in the true God revealed in the Scriptures. The one who seems to be dealing with the situation the best is Tyler, the boy with cancer. He displays the kind of faith Jesus Himself describes in Matthew 21; the faith that can move mountains. He displays his child-like faith by writing letters to God and placing them in the mail box. The letters end up in the hands of the mailman.

In the beginning, a new mailman comes into the scene. He is a lost, drunken, hopeless man who has lost his wife and son, as a result of his addiction to alcohol. God has said the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), but sin, also, has earthly wages, which is realistically portrayed though the life of this mailman. Through Tyler’s letters to God, he begins to be inspired and is touched by Tyler’s strong faith in the Mighty One. “How can a dying boy have so much hope and a perfectly healthy man is slowly killing himself,” one must ask? It will cause you to examine yourself, to say the least.

The movie is well made for the budget they had, and the acting is average. However, the message is stronger than any movie I’ve seen in a very long time.

The only part of the film that deserves a warning is that the mailman is seen sitting in a bar a few times, but there is no foul language or other inappropriate behavior shown. There are no sexual references or violence to speak of.

Theologically, I feel inclined to point out that the Gospel message is communicated, however, it is based on the “just ask Jesus to come into your heart” style of evangelism. Taken from a child’s perspective, it is good to see that the Gospel is present, but that is not how a sinner is saved. A sinner must first realize that he or she has sinned, and, as a result of that sin, deserves to be punished eternally in Hell. Only then will a sinner see the genuine need for a Savior: Jesus Christ. Only when a person, child or adult, understands the depravity of their soul can they repent and believe the Gospel. It is a divine work of God (John 6:44). “Asking Jesus to come into your heart” does not save a person. Evidence of salvation is a new life in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), not the act of having said a short prayer one time in your life.

Overall, I highly recommend this film to any family. In fact, it’s one to buy and add to your movie collection. Buy it as a gift or loan it out, because everyone could benefit from the faith and influence young Tyler has on his entire community. We need more movies out there like this one. Let this Scripture ring in your ear,

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me” (Matt 18:3-5).

Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

information Official site

Where did cancer come from? Answer

Learn how to be more effective in evangelism Stumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? Our EffectiveEvangelism.com site assists Christians in effectively reaching out to others with love and truth. Learn about the worldview of the people you meet, ways to share the gospel, read stories submitted by site users, and more.

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I would give this movie a 10 or higher. This is the first movie in 2010 which gives glory to the Lord. The movie points to Jesus Christ as savior. I have refuse to see all 2010 movies because they have fallen short in giving the Lord reverence, but not “Letters To God.” What a blessing it was for my family to watch this when it came out. I have already recommended this movie to my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ and bring nonbelievers to this movie. Wave after wave of love in this movie. I plan on buying the “Letters to God” DVD when it comes out. Well worth supporting the directors and actors/actreeses and staff of this movie. God bless them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michael, age 53 (USA)
Positive—I wasn’t sure what what expect from “Letters to God.” Overall, I found this to be a great movie which helps me reflect on my own faith; how I am living, and if I sharing my faith with others, regardless of what people think or say. Living out the message of the gospel is seen in this movie. Finally, I can relate since my very close friend has a terminal illness. She can not do many of the activities that other people do. I know God has used her and this movie to show me a life lived for Christ is not free from suffering, but through it all Christ can use someone to show His love to others and give him/her a new life in Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—ML, age 38 (USA)
Positive—I watched this movie and I loved it. It was a truly inspiring story, and left me re-evaluating my life and my faith. I liked that it addressed issues that are often ignored by films lke these, such as the struggle in keeping the faith strong during hard times.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Brianna, age 20 (USA)
Positive—This movie is extremely touching, and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I often take for granted. I would absolutely recommend this movie to anyone and everyone!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Amanda, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I took my wife and kids to this movie over the weekend, and I am so glad I did. The movie was incredibly touching and inspiring for my children. We can all learn a valuable lesson or two from this movie. I highly recommend you seeing it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Henry, age 48 (USA)
Positive—This movie is amazingly touching and it truly made me realize some of the things that people often take for granted. It had an excellent message and I recommend it to everybody.
—Sierra (USA)
Positive—I took my wife and kids to see “Letters to God” this past weekend, and we all enjoyed it so much. The movie was touching and inspiring for my children. Go see it and bring the whole family!
—Brendan (USA)
Positive—Wow. It reminds me of “The Ultimate Gift,” wow. Really well acted, almost no cheese factor! This movie is not only worth seeing, worth owning, but worth recomending to everyone you know! Go now while it’s still in theatres!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tim Stromer, age 43 (USA)
Positive—I loved this film and would definitely recommend it to anyone. The story is heartwarming and the message is great for adults, too. I watched this at a low point in my life and realized that no matter what my trials and tribulations are, my suffering is nowhere near that of Tyler and his family. His unshaken faith in the face of his own death and following the death of his father, is amazing.

God was definitely speaking to me through this movie. Our sermon text this week was Mark 14:32-42. “Letters to God” is a reflection of Jesus' prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his death. Facing death, Tyler prays to God, but not to spare his life. I was also very touched by the WWJD attitude Tyler displayed when dealing with Alex.

“Letters to God” is a must-see for all Christians, and a great movie to share with non-believers and luke-warm believers.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mark, age 44 (USA)
Positive—What an amazing film. Very well done!!! I must disagree with anyone who thinks this film is only for Christians. This film shows real-life issues and problems that everyone faces throughout life. What I thought was great was showing how even Christians must go through these trials, and many of us do not perform so admirably. Our faith gets tested, and many of us tend to turn away from God, feeling that we are unfairly being punished, since we live good lives and do not deserve such hardships.

When reading the reviews here, it is apparent that being a Christian doesn’t mean you will automatically like this movie. Which also means that being a non-Christian does not mean you will automatically NOT like this movie. This movie depicts a child going through one of the toughest battles some people must endure. Even though he is young, this child shows an amazing inner strength that comes from God. This strength is a light that brightly shines for all to see. All will notice it, and some will be drawn in trying to understand how this light can shine so bright during such a dark time.

I highly recommend this movie for any non-Christian. Many may not like this movie because it lacks much of the worldly content we have grown accustomed to, but I am positive some of those who do not like it will be affected deep in their hearts. All it takes is a tiny seed in a person heart and God can make it grow. BTW, church is not just for Christians either, so make sure you invite non-Christians there as well… it’s the best place for a non-christian to be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Troy Mendez, age 35 (USA)
Positive—I read the negative reviews on this movie before I watched it, and I didn’t even want to watch it. But my husband still wanted to, so he rented it, and we both loved it! The acting/directing is similar to that of the “Left Behind” series. It was a great movie, nothing offensive in it.

To the person who said that coming to Christ is not as easy as it looks in the movie, if you were in a situation like that, you would come to Christ. God has a way of drawing you to him.…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Diana, age 30 (USA)
Positive—Wow, I can’t believe the neutral and negative comments. Maybe watch the behind the scenes and see his dad crying watching the shoot, because it was too real to him. Anyway, it was an amazing movie. I had no idea it was based on a true story. ***SPOILER*** I thought it would have a happy Hollywood ending. I had tears here and there throughout but at the end really cried. My 8 yr old son ended up crying and my 5 yr old daughter was holding my hand as I cried. In spite of it not being a happy ending, it still was a funny movie at times.
***END SPOILER***
I thought at first it would be cheesy. The smoke as the mailman walked home made me think, ohh, too overdone. And the grandmother was a bit overacted a few times but as it went on, I was really impressed. Some Christian movies just can’t hold a candle to mainstream movies in terms of production, but this one was great.

To the young man who wants to work in movies and thought it was uninspired and schmaltzy, you are mistaken. I used to work in film and television before kids—this movie made me miss it and the behind the scenes REALLY made me miss it. As a Christian, this would have been a great movie to work on and stand behind. I said no to work back in the day based on it’s content. I’ve seen cheesy Christian movies and listened to cheesy Christian music in my day, and this was not it.

This is not for Christians only. Maybe there are people who don’t have faith in God dealing with cancer in their family who would be touched by this movie. Even if it were for Christians only, so what. There is so much junk out there and Christians are so ridiculed that having a good, clean movie with values is great. We go through hardships in life and people give the correct answers like “Have faith” and “God is there” and others, all like in the movie, and sometimes, like the mom in the movie, you don’t always feel it. I found that part very real and was glad it was in there. Faith gets challenged and it’s not easy.

Again, great film. I give thanks for my children and their health.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andrea, age 38 (USA)
Positive—This movie touched me more than I thought it would. The story is something to remember! The message is God is with us, even during times of hardship when we feel all alone. I have experienced cancer in my family. Loved the story.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Christina, age 38 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—The trailer for this movie is excellent, the actual movie was too cliche, too unrealistic. The basic story is certainly worthy of a movie—the script and acting were just too fake appearing. It’s okay for $5 matinee, but nothing more unfortunately.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Tim, age 51 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I’ll say this with love and kindness and no disrespect to those who enjoyed the movie but, as a Christian and a guy hoping to be a filmmaker, this is the exact kind of film that creates a further gap between believers and nonbelievers. This film is for believers and believers only, and my stomach clenches when I think of being associated with this film just because I’m a Christian. God deserves movies that aren’t schmaltzy, uninspired, and untasteful to everyone but Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Nathan Deming, age 21 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—As a teenager in our society, I’m tired of the trash that has been showing in the movies. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew I wanted to see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Alcir Neto, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I highly recommend “Letters to God.” Not only does it have good acting, scrip, and characters, but the message is excellent. Admittedly, there were a few areas that could have been a little tighter--in the beginning for example, too much time is spent on a character who summarily vanishes and is never seen again--but overall it is one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year. It perfectly captures the elusive element of having a clearly Christian worldview and expressing that view without being preachy or corny. Especially coming out on the heels of “My Sister’s Keeper,” this movie provides an excellent answer to the question of life after death, hope in the face of tragedy, and most of all, God’s love even during dark times. My entire family from the adults down to the ten-year-old loved it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Janelle Johnson, age 17 (USA)
Neutral—A film about a child writing letters to God should be pure gold for anybody, Christian or not. However, the sappy, overdone dialogue and performances will probably do anything but bring people to Christ. This film, as a Christian, almost made me feel bad about myself when it makes converting to the faith look that easy. I long for the day that Christian art will be what it used to be when Shakespeare, Mozart, and Beethoven were around.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Michael, age 17 (USA)
Positive—…a wonderful story of a boy’s faith in God. Though the acting isn’t wonderful, the message is better. I would say that it is worth your money!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Abby, age 14 (USA)
Neutral—I love Christian films that are gritty, realistic yet still have a shining message—“The Blind Side” comes to mind rather quickly. However, this movie, with its cringe-inducing, drawn-out, overdone dialogue, average acting, and only decent moral value did nothing to bring me spiritually closer to God.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Joshua, age 14 (USA)