Boonville Redemption

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Boonville Redemption Movie Poster Image
Faith-based historical tale; mature themes, violence.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Faith-based messages surround forgiveness, redemption, power of God over evil. Time and honesty will heal transgressions. "God will override all sorts of situations we get into; all we have to do is ask for His help." "Always listen to the still, small voice inside you, because that's God talking to you." There are "two kinds of people: the fixers and the breakers." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young heroine finds her way to unearthing long hidden truths and plays an active role in correcting old wrongs. She is patient, thoughtful, and loving, in spite of the fact that she considers herself "mean." One-dimensional adult characters range from an arch villain who is a racist, abusive, cruel murderer to a saintly elderly grandmother who provides inspirational messages and unconditional love. Heroine's mother learns hard lessons about superstition versus religious faith, and, with her daughter's help, finds strength to stand up for herself and her children.  

Violence

Several murders and beatings: most of them just off camera, but with gun shots heard. Abusive husband hits his wife and his daughter in several scenes; threatens their lives and endlessly demeans them. A beloved grandmother falls and (spoiler alert) later dies of her injuries. An earthquake (1906 San Francisco) violently shakes a home. The event causes off-screen damage, causing serious injuries to a featured young boy and the deaths of his parents. In a drunken stupor a man starts to sexually assault his wife; the event is witnessed by the woman's two children.

Sex

Story is based on the challenges of being born to an unwed mother. Villainous character is shown as a womanizer and domestic abuser. In a drunken stupor he starts to sexually assault his wife; the event is witnessed by the woman's two children.

Language

A bullying villain speaks cruelly and insultingly to his stepdaughter.  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in saloon. Some drunkenness. A heartless man, severely drunk, attempts to sexually assault his wife.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Boonville Redemption is the dramatic, faith-based story of a young, small-town girl as she struggles to come to terms with having been "born out of wedlock" Set in 1906, violence is commonplace in Boonville. Death by gunfire and natural causes, the damaging effects of the horrific earthquake in nearby San Francisco, and the ruthless behavior of a cruel man all impact the plot. In addition to his abusiveness (he viciously hits his wife and child), the man is a sexual cad, a mean drunk, and wields enormous power over most of the townspeople. Good people and solid values come up against the pervasive evil that lives in Boonville -- and those people and those values triumph because of the power of godliness, faith, and religious teachings. Mature themes and the fact that several kids are imperiled make this message-driven tale appropriate for mature kids only.

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What's the story?

Melinda Lawson (Emily Hoffman) thinks she's old enough now to know the truth in BOONVILLE REDEMPTION. She knows she was born when her mother was unmarried. She's had to live with whispers, insults, and a very brutal stepfather who never lets her forget about her "sinful" beginning. Of the many mysteries that confound the young heroine, the most important is the identity and whereabouts of her father, about whom no one will speak. There have been rumors about jail, perhaps abandonment, even about a violent death, but Melinda simply can't get anyone to tell her the truth. Her local pastor, on the verge of revealing all to Melinda, is shot and killed. So when stepfather Maddix (Richard Tyson) sends her away to help care for her aging Grandma Mary (Diane Ladd), the young girl sees it as an opportunity. Perhaps, the time is right for her to learn the story from the elderly woman. Building a warm relationship with her grandmother and making a new friend, a peculiar but kind-hearted boy, boost Melinda's spirits, but not for long. As soon as she has bits and pieces of the truth, tragedy strikes and Melinda returns to Boonville. What the distraught girl hasn't learned is that lies almost never stay hidden. There are others in Boonville for whom the time is also right. Seeking redemption and forgiveness, Melinda receives help from those others, some of them very unexpected.   

Is it any good?

Well-meaning but artless, this folksy, religious drama has a heart, but relies on a predictable plot and one-dimensional characters, so there's little to recommend. Faith-based values are gently delivered, and thoughtful. Boonville Redemption was able to attract some reliable character actors (Diane Ladd, Ed Asner, even Pat Boone is appealing as the film's narrator and town doctor), but the writing and direction gives them no opportunity to do their usually fine work. The action sequences, including off-screen gunplay and the themes of illegitimacy, spousal abuse, and drunken infidelity, make this for teens only, but it's hard to imagine that it would engage them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the setting for Boonville Redemption. How does the fact that the story takes place in 1906 affect the plot? For example: What attitudes have changed about marriage and family? How are men's and women's roles different now, and in what ways are they the same? 

  • Did you know that "Boontling" was an actual language spoken in the real town of Boonville, California at that time? And the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was one of the U.S.'s most catastrophic incidents? Find out more about the historical relevance of these two American events.  

  • In addition to telling an entertaining story, the creators of this movie have a secondary, and perhaps equally important, purpose. What is that purpose? Is it important for audiences to recognize a filmmaker's intention? If your answer is yes, why?

  • What is the meaning of the terms "faith-based" and "message-driven" as they relate to this film?

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