Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
Thomas Haden Church
Bobb'e J. Thompson
Nicole Ari Parker
James Patrick Stuart
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|Director:||Karey Kirkpatrick—“Smallfoot,” “Over the Hedge,” a writer of “Chicken Run” and “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”|
|Producer:||Di Bonaventura Pictures, Internationale Filmproduktion Stella-del-Sud Third, Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Pictures, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ric Kidney, Ed Solomon, Lars P. Winther|
“What if your daughter’s imagination… Was the secret to your success?”
“Imagine That” is the story of a week in the life of Evan Danielson, played to a comedic tee by Eddie Murphy, as a very successful financial advisor who has been separated from his wife Trish (Nicole Ari Parker) and only plays part time Dad to his 7-year old daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi).
Early on Evan is seen being interrupted at the office yet again (implied) by a call from Olivia’s school. Seems Olivia has been spending far too much time in the imaginary world under her blanket with the three princesses that live there. But every attempt Evan makes to pry her security blanket (the “Goo-Gaa”) from her is met with screams and he gives in as usual.
Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church) is a recent up and comer at Evan’s firm and has been aggressively moving in to take Evan’s Clients. More motivational speaker than financial advisor Johnny uses his Native American culture as the centerpiece of his presentations and is able to stir the Clients into funny but agreeable frenzies. Adding to Evan’s insecurity is the fact that the firm is actively promoting the competition between him and Whitefeather.
Trish, Evan’s wife, needs him to watch Olivia for the week. While this couldn’t have come at a worse time, little does he suspect that Olivia and her imaginary friends are going to turn his life upside down. Evan soon realizes his daughter’s predictions, via her imaginary friends Koopida and Moppida, are actually coming true to the shock and delight of his boss and the growing dismay of his rival.
The Lord’s name is taken in vain twice in succession (OMG) and then while Evan ridicules Whitefeather with an exasperated prayer (Lord, Lord…). These are tame by Hollywood standards, but they added nothing to the narrative.
Another father plays dress and make-up with his daughter when the Mom was downstairs. This blurring of gender roles begs the question why the Mom couldn’t have been in his place?
A joke is made as to whether or not it would be legal to stab an associate. This subject is brought up again when the assistant returns with a report that the legal department says it would be unlawful.
A remark is made as to one person figuratively scalping another. Most disturbing was a scene where scissors are held in a somewhat threatening manner. This made the other character who is witness to this, as well as the audience, freeze in shock.
A 10-year old child is given multiple cans of an energy drink in order to coax insight from him without regards as to the possible health perils associated with the high intake of caffeine and sugar on children.
This film offers a great teaching opportunity for parents in several areas:
On the issue of imaginary friends it was brought up in a very realistic light. At first, seeing Olivia having conversations by herself seems strange, but studies have shown that imaginary friends are a more common part of many kid’s lives and are not harmful to their psyche.
Showing poor behavior, Whitefeather is a good example of not being able to accept criticism. Proverbs 15:12 does teach that “A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.”
Regarding proper parental role playing one could consider Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear woman’s clothing…”
Perhaps the biggest lesson is the one that most mainstream family movies inherently understand, but don’t recognize. Evan Danielson’s life was rich, but hollow. His success had not brought him the happiness he had supposed and it was only when he focused on ‘the good thing’, his daughter, that his life took on meaning. Jesus speaks to this problem all of us go through when we focus on the wrong things and find life meaningless. Most importantly he gives us an answer in Matthew 6:33 when he says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Overall, I recommend “Imagine That” as an entertaining and fun family movie with some issues that can be used to spark family discussion.
So if you are looking for a heartwarming story about a daughter seeking to be the center of her Dad’s universe, and a grown man who, in coming to terms with what is really important in life, becomes a real father, then this is for you.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.