Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tammi's Take on "The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry"

I must confess, I was shocked when my friend and I entered the theater last night and were the only ones there for this movie. I rarely watch TV and miss most previews, so I rely on print ads and word of mouth to learn about the rare movie I might want to catch. I'd never heard of this one, and if the empty theater was any indication, neither had most people.

As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, Greg said with his usual dry humor, "So, where do you want to sit?" I'd been surprised that he actually voiced a preference when I'd asked him if there was anything he'd like to see. He knows everything about my abusive past and bends over backwards to ensure that I feel the freedom to choose what I'd like to do, see, eat, etc. I'd grown so accustomed to my opinions not being taken into consideration that in the early days of our relationship I'd respond, "Whatever you'd like" whenever he'd ask for my feedback. He was so careful about not forcing his way on me that he'd in turn respond, "No, whatever you'd like". We were so solicitous of one another that we got to the point where we'd end up not doing anything! Now we're working toward a healthy balance, and I was thrilled when he actually said he'd like to see this film.

We made our way to what I considered the best seats, dead smack in the middle, close to the screen, but not all the way in the front. Five minutes into the film, I could tell why we were the only patrons.

The film is set in a quintessential New England town in the 70s and is based on the real life story of a seventy-five year old gentleman (Gavin McCleod of The Love Boat, now a born again Christian) who befriends three twelve-year-old boys and disciples them. His evangelism and teaching is not subtle, it is overt, and any movie goer who doesn't want to sit through more than an hour of seeing the gospel message laid out clearly on the screen better head for the aisle the minute the film begins to roll.

In addition to the film being undeniably Christian, it doesn't boast a single special effect, and though I'm as far from an expert as one can get, it's cinemetography seems to be average at best. The acting is a bit forced, even stiff at times, and the dialogue is a little corny and contrived.

Despite all this, there are scenes that are profoundly moving. The one in which Jonathan Sperry teaches the boys a lesson about sharing the gospel with people while they are alive to hear it is especially poignant and reminds believers of the awesome task we have been assigned as the Lord's ambassadors here on earth.

Personally, I felt that Robert Guillaume's (famous for his sitcom role as Benson) acting was the best in the film by far. His character brought home the fact that Sperry's faith was not just one that he talked, but walked as well.

By the end of the film, viewers understand that the time Sperry invested in the lives of the young people around him had long lasting effects, not just here on earth, but for eternity.

Thoughtfully, Greg and I left the theater. We passed by other films that were still in progress and decided to duck into "Couples' Retreat", not to stay, but to see if it was one of the rare comedies we could consider watching in the future.

As quickly as we'd understood that "The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry" was as Christian as a film could get, we knew the opposite was true of "Couples Retreat". As I mentioned, I don't watch much TV and am very discriminating about the movies I watch, so I was absolutely appalled by what I saw on that screen within the space of 2 minutes. If I hadn't read with my own eyes while looking up the Sperry movie that this one was rated PG13, I would have thought we were watching something R rated. In disgust, I turned on my heel and thanked the Lord we hadn't actually paid money for what I consider smut.

I'm sorry to go off on a tangent, but I've thought about the contrast between the two films ever since. The sad thing is "Couples Retreat" is the number 1 movie in the country and "The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry" is struggling and on it's way out of the box office after less than a month.

That's one of the reasons I wanted to blog about it. I'd like to encourage any readers to go see it while you have the chance, and if possible, take your children. It's a wonderful family friendly movie with a simply profound message that is relevant to all believers, no matter our age. I'd also recommend seeing the film with someone who is seeking answers about salvation. It would open doors for meaningful conversations that might lead to them making a decision to follow Christ.

I hope you see the movie and spread the Word.

~Truly, Tammi

Tell Me Truly

My elderly great Aunt Bertie was my Jonathan Sperry. Did an older Christian brother or sister in Christ help bring you up in the faith? I'd love to hear from you.
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