A Walk with Grace

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
A Walk with Grace Movie Poster Image
Sweet but hokey Easter film romanticizes small-town life.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 100 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Prodigal son" story with heavy Christian messaging. Includes themes of redemption, responsibility, empathy, and following God's plan. Weighs the idea of selling a company out from under its loyal employees: "What does one man profit if he loses his own soul?"

Positive Role Models & Representations

On the plus side, female characters are smart, capable lawyers and businesswomen. And there's ome diversity within the supporting cast: The main character's daughter and sister-in-law are Latinx, and his buddy from high school is Black, although in a stereotypical job. But there's also some stereotyping. The Latinx "senioritas" are called to the dance floor when a white Midwestern band plays Latin music, women all "love a sale" and are distracted by shopping, and men bond over sports and lifting weights.


Mistrust between characters. A coach yells at a student athlete who shows compassion toward another athlete with a disability. Two adult men get into a fistfight (pushing, shoving, one punch).


Romance is in the air: Literally all of the characters are finding love. Many conversations about love and attraction. Kissing.


One use each of "ass," "butt," and "idiot."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters (including teens) meet at a music venue that serves alcohol. Adult characters drink beer and wine in social settings and at home. Lead character is a recovering alcoholic. A drunk character walks toward his car but is driven home by a friendly police officer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Walk with Grace is a faith-based romantic dramedy that offers a modern-day take on the Biblical story of the prodigal son. The story centers on Nate (David Lee Smith), a small-town-Ohio sports legend who moved to L.A. after graduation. The movie buys into the idea that big cities are nasty places full of shallow people, while small towns are comprised of kind folk who look out for one another. Iffy content is minimal: Just a few off-color words ("ass," "idiot"), a bit of social drinking (except for Nate, who's a recovering alcoholic), and a fistfight. You can also expect plenty of romance, with some (pretty tame) kissing. While Nate's daughter and sister-in-law are Latinx, sometimes the film's attempts at being inclusive are borderline offensive. For example, it just so happens that the local band (all white men) specialize in Latin music, and they call the two "senoritas" to the dance floor. Female characters are strong, independent thinkers in professional positions -- they're all lawyers or CEOs -- but they also all "love a sale" and are distracted by shopping (the men bond over sports and lifting weights).

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What's the story?

After his mother passes away right before Easter, L.A.-based executive Nate (David Lee Smith) and his teen daughter return to the small Ohio town he grew up in in A WALK WITH GRACE. He learns that he's now part owner of his family's factory, which his cousin Sabrina (Jenni-Kate Deshon) has run for the last 20 years in his absence. Sabrina has lined up a lucrative sale for the factory, but Nate realizes that easy money has consequences.

Is it any good?

Former reality producer/ad man Nick Kellis' pleasant but hokey romance fills a void: It's an Easter movie that doesn't involve men in robes, brightly colored eggs, or cute animals. It does, however, deliver Christianity's most important messages of the season: Even those who stray will be lovingly welcomed back home. Of course, the "prodigal son" allegory has always felt unfair to the older brother. Similarly, this story feels unfair to Sabrina, who felt forced to stay in Lima to run the factory after Nate abandoned his responsibilities to see what life in the big city. More unfair is that Sabrina is made out to be somewhat of a villain for wanting to get out from under this responsibility that was forced upon her. And then when Nate -- who checked out for the last 20 years -- pushes back on the sale, she says to him, "well, you're the smart one." It's hard not to bristle at that comment and realize that even though Kellis has clearly taken steps to show women as capable, intelligent, and powerful, A Walk with Grace still perpetuates the idea that men know better. 

A Walk with Grace is a jokey title -- the opposing forces in the fight for the factory are women named Grace and Graciella, Nate is looking for grace from his town and from God, and, for good measure, the song "Amazing Grace" is sung not once, but twice -- but it carries a noble intention. While the story is thin, sanitized, and even cutesy, it highlights the plight of the American factory worker. This film makes the argument for why this endangered species needs our attention. That matters because, often, inserting a thought-provoking idea into a light, breezy movie can be more powerful than a heavy-handed drama or a newsy documentary. To its credit, A Walk with Grace achieves its simple aspirations: It tells a modern version of a Christian story to faith-based audiences, reminds them that small towns have their charms, and acknowledges that it's never to late to come back home and do some good. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the classic redemption story of the prodigal son. How does A Walk with Grace modernize that story? 

  • How does this drama compare to other faith-based films you've seen? How does it compare to those in the romance genre? How does it compare to other Easter films?

  • Did you notice any stereotyping in the movie? What makes stereotypes problematic?

  • How does the movie promote empathy?

  • The city of Lima, Ohio, is essentially a character in the film, much like New York in Ghostbusters or Los Angeles in La La Land. Why would you imagine this town was given a starring role? Do you think the portrayal of small-town life is accurate or romanticized?

Movie details

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For kids who love romance

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