Finding Grace

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Finding Grace Movie Poster Image
Troubled teen finds faith and friendship; drinking.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 106 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Decisions have lifelong consequences; character is made up of the sum total of choices. Strong messages about restoring faith when it has been lost. Christian themes promoted: compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, God's purpose.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character, grieving and acting out in negative ways, is redeemed through her faith, good works, love of others. Ultimately, she becomes compassionate, selfless, determined, and forgiving (of herself and others). Single dad is loving, tries hard, finds his way through his faith. Ethnic diversity.

Violence

Teen shows up with black eye after altercation (not shown). Character holds pills during a threat of suicide.

Sex
Language

"Hell," "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Reference to past underage drinking, fake ID. Implied underage drinking at a party. Character holds pills during a threat of suicide.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Finding Grace is a faith-based movie about a teen who's sentenced to community service by a judge who wants to give her a second chance. Apprehended for having a false ID and underage possession of alcohol, the high school senior gives little thought to the decisions she makes. She's still grieving for her absent mother, angry, and acting out. Her community service at a retirement home becomes the impetus for change. Religious messages, which include God and Jesus Christ, are incorporated throughout. One use each of "hell" and "crap" are heard.  At a teen party, it's implied that there's drinking. A character holds a handful of pills as a suicide threat. A boy is shown with a severely blackened eye, though the altercation that caused it happens off-camera. Mature themes, including abandonment, a senior citizen experiencing the onset of dementia, and suicide, make the movie best suited for mature tweens and teens.

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What's the story?

Alaska "Ali" Rose (Paris Warner) is both terrified and angry in FINDING GRACE. Supported by her caring single dad (Jasen Wade), she's facing a stern judge (Erin Gray), accused of possessing alcohol in public and using a fake ID. Ali takes no responsibility for her actions and deems the whole situation unfair. When she's sentenced to 150 hours of community service, it's simply another blow for Ali, one that follows her mother's "abandonment" a few years earlier and what she feels is her father's overcommitment to his business. Ali is bitter and resentful when she goes to work at a retirement home to serve her sentence. Her mood darkens further when Mrs. Foster (Kisha Sharon Oglesby), the elderly patient to whom she's been assigned, is bitter and resentful as well. However, Ali's dad has not yet given up on her, nor has her supervisor at the retirement home. As the days pass, Ali finds she doesn't want to give up on Mrs. Foster, either. The teen and the older woman begin to connect in positive ways for both. A game-changing moment for father and daughter is an important next step for Ali. And the family's cautious return to church after a long absence completes Ali's transformation. 

Is it any good?

Sincere in efforts to tell an inspirational story and create relatable characters the audience will root for, this movie mostly achieves its goals in spite of predictability and a low budget. Writer-director Warren Fast believes in his material and it shows. The actors, some seasoned pros and some new to the art, give it their all. While secondary characters are one-dimensional, the leads -- teen, dad, and retiree -- work hard to be nuanced. Finding Grace has some surprising moments that set it apart from other movies in the genre as well. It's OK for most, and will especially appeal to fans of faith-based films.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of faith-based movies like Finding Grace. Who are the filmmakers hoping to reach with such films? What religious principles do they want you to take away from this movie? Do you think you have to be religious to enjoy them or be inspired? Why or why not?

  • Movies for young people sometimes feature grieving about a recently departed parent, in this case a mom who has "abandoned" her family. How does that element immediately help identify the emotional place in which we find Alaska? How does it help set up the relationship with her dad? How did the story help resolve that relationship? 

  • The movie states: "The decisions you make now have lifelong consequences." What does this mean? Do you agree? Think about some experiences that you've had or others have had that would confirm the notion.  

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love faith-based tales

Themes & Topics

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