- - Thursday, March 28, 2024

It’s been 91 years since Kong first scaled the Empire State Building. Now, he and Godzilla are back to unleash more CGI mayhem. Karen Kingsbury’s bestselling novel weaves themes of love, faith and forgiveness into a story that’ll have you reaching for the Kleenex, “Shirley” tells the story of Shirley Chisholm, a pioneering Black politician who battled prejudice in the years following the Civil Rights era. 

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Read on to get Plugged In on what’s beyond the movie titles and trailers for faith-filled and family-first reviews from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In.

Someone Like Me – In Theaters

Fans of romance, and of Karen Kingsbury’s stories in particular, will likely adore this big-screen adaptation of her bestseller “Someone Like You.”

I can’t say with a straight face that I’m a massive fan of this genre myself, though I’ve watched more than a few broadly similar films with my wife on Hallmark and Great American Family.

That said, the faith elements here yield a story that has more spiritual depth and emotional resonance than perhaps some other films in this category. Early on, we hear a voiceover from Dawson saying, “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.”

We see that proverbial wisdom play out onscreen, and not just in Dawson and Andi’s budding romance.

Andi’s father, Jim, repeatedly and wisely counsels both giving his daughter space and trusting God to bring her back, too. We glimpse the agony of two sets of parents who have, in different ways, lost their daughters—one to a tragic death, one to a temporary gulf of estrangement. And we watch as both couples struggle deeply to trust God with the ache of what’s happened.

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The happy ending here is, in all likelihood, a forgone conclusion. But the meandering path that the characters take to get there might inspire some questions for those who see the film, questions like: How do we trust God with tragedy? What does it take to forgive those who’ve hurt or deceived us?

As noted above, a few moments in Dawson’s pursuit of Andi feel slightly uncomfortable or “weird,” as his friend, Carl, says. But apart from a lingering kiss or two, as well as London’s scratched face after her fatal accident, there aren’t any content concerns that would hinder anyone’s ability to enjoy this romantic story.

And—true confession here — I did enjoy it. I liked the characters, and I wanted to know how it was going to wrap up in a satisfying manner. I even *sniff* teared up a bit at the end.

Read the rest of the review here. Watch the trailer here.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire – In Theaters

“Godzilla” and “Kong” movies used to be much simpler fare. In fact, they were generally straightforward things: Monsters rose up and destroyed cities, but at the same time, they metaphorically reminded us of the threat of atomic extinction and other social ills. 

Today’s Godzilla and Kong and their Monsterverse peers are much more complicated constructs. Not only are the beasties anthropomorphized to exhibit human emotions and feelings, they also come from a hidden away Hollow Earth populated with ancient tribes of people who have enslaved Kong-like apes and huge magic crystals. 

In fact, there’s even monster worship going on there that we didn’t know about as well as a centuries-old, twisting and turning lore that paints these kaiju beasties as the heroic and godlike protectors of humanity. (If, that is, it’s possible to “protect” and stomp your charges to mulch at the same time.) 

Phew!

All that story bloat is thanks to scores and scores of writers trying to pad their tales with something new and interesting over the years, but it’s gotten to the point of being ridiculously difficult to wrap one’s brain around it all. (Definitely don’t go in with your thinking cap on.) And except for the recently released and highly praised “Godzilla Minus One,” humans in these features tend to either be pointless add-ons or running crowds of teeny screeching ants (squish!) 

But does any of that matter? Probably not. 

These days, the audience shows up for the colossal CGI spectacle; the behemothian pulverizing and earsplitting, atomic breath bedazzlement. That and the sight of giant creatures being ripped into goopy and apparently edible chunks. 

And there’s tons of all that in “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” 

Read the rest of the review here. Watch the trailer here.

Shirley – Streaming on Netflix

Shirley Chisholm was a groundbreaking American politician. As the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first woman or Black person to run for president, she instilled hope in thousands of Americans who believed that their race or gender would always hold them back.

She didn’t win the election. She didn’t even win the nomination from her party. But Shirely always knew that was a possibility. She wanted to be “nothing more and nothing less than a catalyst for change.” And as she told her staff when her campaign ended, “If I can’t get there today, you have to believe you can get there tomorrow.”

But in spite of Shirley’s inspiring life, “Shirley” may not be suited for all families.

Language can sometimes get harsh. Notably, the f-word is used three times in one scene by a man attempting to assassinate Shirley, whom he ragingly derides as a “Black b–ch.” The n-word also makes an unfortunate appearance, written on a box of Shirley’s campaign stickers.

Viewers witness many other depictions of racism and sexism throughout the film. And while these are accurate portrayals from American history, those moments could also be upsetting for more sensitive viewers.

It should also be noted that Shirley professes to be a Christian. In many ways, we see how her faith guides her sense of justice and her belief in the need for forgiveness. That said, we also see that she supports the right to abortion.

And though she was a champion for gender equality, Shirly could sometimes be guilty of sexism herself, particularly in her treatment of her husband, whom she eventually divorced.

All in all, “Shirley” tells a story about a brave woman who believed that all Americans deserved the right to be treated fairly. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily a film that all Americans will be able to watch, given the gritty way these important issues are sometimes depicted here.

Read the rest of the review here. Watch the trailer here.

Plugged In is a Focus on the Family publication designed to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate, and impact the culture in which they live. Through our reviews, articles and discussions, we hope to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Reviews written by Adam R. Holz, Bob Hoose, Emily Tsaio.

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