Editor’s note: This monthly series, “5 Family-Friendly Things,” spotlights five family-friendly entertainment choices on film, DVDs, streaming or television.
Filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick are known for movies that convict your heart, tug at your emotions and point you toward a major biblical truth.
Courageous (2011) urged fathers to take their roles more seriously. War Room (2015) encouraged Christians to take prayer more seriously. Overcomer (2019) reminded believers of their identity found only in Christ. And Fireproof (2008) helped strengthen countless marriages.
The Kendricks will release their latest film, Lifemark, on Sept. 9. The good news? It has the same emotional punch and gospel-centric truth of those earlier hits.
Inspired by true events, Lifemark tells the story of David, an 18-year-old high school teenager who is enjoying a care-free life when he learns that his birth mother — David is adopted — wants to contact him.
Thankfully, David’s adoptive parents, played by Kirk Cameron and Rebecca Rogers, have prepared David for this moment by openly discussing his birth history and by championing her heroic role in his life. Still, it’s a lot to process.
“I don’t even know her,” David says pensively, unsure what he should do.
“There’s no rush,” his father responds.
As we follow this emotion-laden plot, we also get to know more about David and his family’s past. He’s a high school wrestler. He’s a talented public speaker, too, and we see that on display as he gives a speech about his adoption in front of a large audience. As he’s speaking on stage, we watch as his birth mom — hundreds of miles away — googles for information about him, thrilled to learn about the young man he has become. It’s one of the movie’s best moments.
Eventually, David becomes friends with his birth mom, Melissa (played by Dawn Long), on social media. After a few exchanges, he decides to meet her face to face. He’s excited, but nervous, about the in-person visit.
Asked what he may say to her, he thinks for a moment and answers solemnly: “Thank-you.”
Lifemark is an inspiring pro-adoption movie that perfectly captures all the emotions of the adoption process — making you empathetic for both sides as you cheer for David’s success in life.
Via flashbacks, we learn why David’s birth parents placed him for adoption (they were young). We also watch his birth parents sort through dozens of paper bios before landing on the mom and dad that became his adoptive parents. (During one emotional scene, we watch a young Melissa place an out-of-the-blue phone call to his future adoptive mom, asking her how she baits her fishing hook.) We then watch David being raised as a baby, then a toddler, then a child.
No doubt, there are multiple scenes that bring tears to your eyes.
The filmmakers, though, smartly use humor to cut the emotional tension thanks to David’s goofball friend, Nate, who is filming a documentary about David’s life and wants him to display more on-screen joy. (“You have the emotion of a rock!”)
The film’s lead actor, Raphael Ruggero, is stellar.
It is the first Kendrick Brothers film not directed by Alex Kendrick (who is an executive producer). That chore went to Kevin Peeples, who previously directed Like Arrows.
The movie’s first hour is as gripping as any Kendrick Brothers film ever.
Lifemark is a faith-based movie that promotes adoption, affirms biblical truth and leaves you wanting to get more involved in the adoption movement.
It’s a film every church can embrace.
Also worth watching this month:
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters/Love + Local (Pureflix) — In Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters,