Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
|Better than Average
|• Adults • Young-Adults • Teens
|1 hr. 42 min.
|Year of Release:
April 5, 2023
Films with a strong Christian worldview
Reliance on the power of PRAYER
God’s faithfulness to His children
PRAYER—Tips for new and growing Christians
Why aren’t my prayers answered? Answer
Why is our level of HUMILITY important? Answer
What is FAITH and why is it important? Answer
What is the INTERCESSION OF CHRIST? Answer
Why should humans give THANKS to their Creator? What does the Bible say about thankfulness? Answer
Dennis Quaid … Doug White
Heather Graham … Terri White
Jessi Case … Maggie White
Jesse Metcalfe … Cory
Rocky Myers … Dan Favio
See all »
|Sean McNamara—known for “Soul Surfer” and “The Miracle Season”
Autumn Bailey Entertainment
See all »
|United Artists Releasing, a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), a division of MGM Holdings, Inc., Owner: Amazon®
“Based on the incredible true story”
Doug White (Dennis Quaid) doesn’t have a lot of things. For one thing, he doesn’t have a pilots license. This is because he is learning to fly as a hobby. After all, you can’t be a pharmacist 24/7 like Doug is. The other thing Doug doesn’t have is a lot of faith. Oh sure, he’ll pray when his family does, but apart from that he’s very apathetic to the whole “live for God” thing his wife and his two daughters, Maggie and Bailey, like to engage in.
He does love his family a lot, though. In fact he and his family love to partake in the Monroe County Cook Off. Doug, his wife Terri, his daughter Bailey, and his brother, Jeff, are having the time of their lives at this cookoff (not Maggie as much), and they end up winning the competition. Things are going pretty well.
Easter Sunday, 2009: the unthinkable happens. Doug gets the phone call no family member wants to get… his brother Jeff has died. “He died? What do you mean he’s gone? You must be mistaken! I was just with him yesterday, and he was fine,” Doug exclaims.
Flash-forward a little bit in time. Doug and his family hold a service for Jeff. Doug can’t fathom giving a eulogy during the funeral. “What kind of God would allow this to happen? First my father, my uncle and now my brother all in a short period of time?” claims Doug. “God has not abandoned you Doug” Terri states. Indeed, Doug is about to realize how much he needs God and how present God is, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
Following the service and reception, Doug and his family are provided with a trip on a private jet back to Louisiana, on a King Air no less, by the great Mr. Joe. Things take a turn for the worst, however, mid-flight when Mr. Joe has a heart attack and dies. Doug, in the co-pilot’s chair, begins to panic. “What am I to do? I don’t know how to fly a plane.” “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday this is November, Five, Five, Nine, Delta, Whiskey. I need help up here.”
Help is on the way! Indeed it will take the whole control tower, the experience of one pilot and God himself to help Doug land this plane. Hold on tight, there’s going to be some turbulence.
When I read the premise for “On a Wing and a Prayer,” I’ll admit I was intrigued. First off, a faith-based film making it to a mainstream streaming service, such as Amazon Prime, is a great victory for Christian filmmakers everywhere (let’s be honest, how many faith-based films do you know that are on Amazon Prime?) Second, this film was based on actual events. While there are some dramatic licenses in play with this film (such as Bailey having an allergic reaction or Doug having to fly through a storm), the film, in general, stays true to the actual events as they unfolded.
Cinematically, “On a Wings” is a testament to what a faith-based film can be. The beauty of the camerawork cannot be understated in this film, from the gradual transitions between the plane and those on the ground, to the closeup shots of each member of the family in the plane, you can’t help but appreciate how smooth everything flows.
To top everything off, you have Dennis Quaid in the lead role. Dennis has never shied away from his faith. He is one of the most outspoken Christian actors in Hollywood. Dennis really puts in a very commendable performance. He presents Doug as a man, though he’s in serious turmoil, as a calm, collected being in spite of it all. He also presents Doug as this loving father, just struggling to stay afloat in all the grief he has had to bear, in as respectable a manner as possible.
I do, however, have two small objections with this film. First, the language. While it’s not as heavy as it could be, thankfully, what I heard still wasn’t pleasant to the ears, and I’m not just talking about the curse words I heard. There are some sexual innuendos, dialog-wise, that make their way into the film that were a bit unnecessary. My other objection has to do with the overall pacing and movement of the plot. The film did slow down in places it really didn’t need to at times and there are side-situations (such as one with a young boy and girl on the ground) that really had no purpose being in the film
Violence: Mild. A guy falls off a bed (he’s unharmed). A character dies. A pilot has a heart attack while flying and dies. We witness various times when the plane loses control (such as one moment when the plane goes into a tailspin briefly). There are moments where characters discuss the possibility of the plane crashing and the people dying (e.g. Someone mentions trying the land the plane is a suicide mission, another person states the plane could go down and crash into a building, etc.). In another scene a man runs into the back of a truck to try and get the attention of a control man. Someone says “I’ll fight you if I survive this.”
Drugs: Someone takes aspirin for a headache. Someone receives an epipen injection after having an allergic reaction to a chocolate bar.
Alcohol: A person is seen drinking shot after shot and is clearly becoming intoxicated. Other characters are seen drinking in one scene. A final scene takes place at a bar.
Sexual Content: A character says to his wife, “I want a little sauce,” (referring to barbecue sauce) and the wife replies, “I’ll save you some sauce for later.” A woman flirting at the bar with a man says, “I like to try to get inside of a man’s head before I get into his bed.” Husband and wife are seen kissing in two separate scenes. Some guy asks another guy “must’ve been a fun night. Who’s the girl?”
Nudity: One woman wears a dress that shows part of her back.
Other: Someone throws up into a barf bag. Maggie is very disrespectful to parents in a couple scenes. A girl is seen going into anaphylactic shock and passes out due to a peanut allergy (she later comes to after getting an epipen shot). Kids ride their bikes into a restricted portion of the airport and run from security.
In the film, we witness Doug struggling with his faith and having a hard time processing God’s role in everything after his brother passes. He even asks his wife, “What God would allow this to happen? I lost my uncle, my father and now my brother in such a short period!” He begins to question, doubt and lose his faith in God.
Speaking from personal experience, I understand Doug’s frustration. It’s so easy to trust God when everything is going well. It’s easy to praise God, to worship Him when things go well. It’s like, well, going into autopilot. Sometimes we go into autopilot and think to ourselves, “Everything is going great right now. I’ll pray, I’ll read my Bible, I’ll call on God when things get bad.”
But that’s not how a relationship with God is supposed to be. God wants to hear us in both the bad AND the good. I heard a pastor state once, “God is not a genie in a bottle. We don’t just rub his lamp when we need to make a wish.” God wants us to be in fellowship with him in every part of our lives. David said it best in the Psalms…
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” —Psalm 34:1-4
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” —Psalm 103:1-6
As Christians if we didn’t go through trials, tribulations and persecution, what good is it having faith? How would our faith grow? A relationship with Jesus is not an easy one, but He is MORE than worth it. To be in fellowship with God and his son Jesus is the greatest gift we can receive. Nothing can compare to it. Jesus said it himself…
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33
“On the Wings of a Prayer” is a film worth seeing. But don’t just see the film, tell those around you to log into Amazon Prime and view this film! It is a blessing to find a strong, faith-based film where Jesus is acknowledged, where a family prays together in the good and bad situations (such as in this film), and where we witness true moments of individuals coming back to the Lord.
While “On the Wings” isn’t squeaky clean, as I’ve said in the past, very few films are. However, you’d be hard pressed to film another film worthy of your time and your attention that is as spiritually edifying as “On the Wings.” In short, I highly recommend this film.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.