‘Breakthrough’ film leads April’s family-friendly spotlight

How deep is a mother’s love? That’s just one of the questions explored in the new faith-based film “Breakthrough” (PG), which opens in theaters April 17. 

The film ranks among the best faith-based movies I’ve seen, but also it’s simply a great movie that holds its own against the leading inspirational mainstream films ever made.

Miraculous survival

“Breakthrough” tells the true-life story of a Missouri teenager named John Smith who falls through an icy pond and is under water for 15 minutes before he is pulled to the surface. 

Without a pulse he is taken to the hospital and considered dead when his mother begins praying over his body. 

He regains a heartbeat — 45 minutes after he fell in the pond — and recovers.

The film stars Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”) who is outstanding as John’s mother Joyce; Topher Grace (“Spider-Man 3”) as her pastor Jason Noble; and Dennis Haysbert (Allstate comercials, “24”) as John’s physician Dr. Garrett.

DeVon Franklin produced the movie with NBA star Steph Curry and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference serving as executive producers. 

It is the first and last faith-based film released by Fox 2000 Pictures which will shut down as a result of the Disney-Fox merger announced in March.

The movie’s miraculous plot will have its doubters, but the story has the medical documentation to support it. Mainstream newspapers and television stations covered the real-life drama when it took place in 2015. 

“The number one takeaway is that prayer works [and that] love wins,” Franklin told a panel of Christian media members in March. “When you think about it, why would Joyce pray that hard? It’s because of her love. And I think that’s just so powerful.”

The movie has no sexuality and only minor language. It is rated PG for thematic content including peril. 

Also worth watching this month:

  • “The Pilgrim’s Progress” — This animated film re-tells the famous story by John Bunyan of a man named Christian who journeys from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. It stars John Rhys-Davies (“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the “Lord of the Rings” series), Ben Price and singer Kristyn Getty as the narrator. It is in theaters for two nights only: April 18 and 20. 
  • “Jesus: His Life” — This eight-part History Channel series examines the life of Christ through the eyes of people who knew Him: Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus and others. It mixes drama with interviews from 20-plus religious leaders. 

Unfortunately a couple of the experts question the biblical account, but thankfully the evangelical voice is represented. Among the evangelical scholars: Asbury Seminary’s Ben Witherington, who sides with Scripture every time. “Jesus: His Life” concludes the Monday before Easter. 

  • “An Interview with God” — A depressed journalist named Paul Asher lands the interview of a lifetime with God, who agrees to three one-on-one sessions, 30 minutes apiece. 

Now on Netflix, “An Interview with God” was one of the best and most thought-provoking faith-themed films of 2018. It’s not perfect but it stands out for its acting and plot. Brenton Thwaites (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) plays Asher and David Strathairn (“Lincoln”) plays the role of God. It is unrated. 

  • “Popular Mechanics for Kids” — Two teenagers travel the world to explain science and technology to children. Topics covered include the Arctic, the International Space Station and slime. More than 40 episodes of this entertaining and educational series are streaming on PureFlix.com.