A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that God's Not Dead 2 -- the sequel to 2014's God's Not Dead -- is a faith-based drama about a high school teacher who's taken to court for supposedly evangelizing in class. There's no swearing, nudity, drinking/smoking, or violence, though the courtroom scenes can get heated. The movie's subject matter mature might be too mature for young kids to grasp, though tweens and teens may admire Grace's fight to stay true to her beliefs.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In GOD'S NOT DEAD 2, during a high school history lesson on the civil rights movement, a student asks about the parallels between Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ. Teacher Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) gives a thoughtful reply, making a clear link between the two -- and then finds herself in hot water when the local school board claims she's bringing religion into the classroom. Soon Grace is hauled into court to defend her actions, and her lawyer, Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), takes the unusual tactic of arguing that Jesus was a historical figure.
Is it any good?
The acting is earnest in this faith-based drama, and though it may sometimes veer toward maudlin, it's the single biggest reason to see the movie. Hart and Metcalfe have clearly thrown themselves into their roles, and they're backed by a strong supporting cast that includes Robin Givens, Ernie Hudson, and Ray Wise.
But good acting can't save God's Not Dead 2 from being wholly formulaic. The legal machinations that Tom relies on in the courtroom are somewhat interesting, but the movie's message is diluted by villainizing the characters who are non-believers. And then there's the script: On the surface, it fascinates, but in the end it reveals itself to be relying on cliches and oversimplification. Kudos for the heart, faith, and dedication that clearly went into making this movie, but it's neither original nor compassionate.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how God's Not Dead 2 relays its point of view. What is that perspective? Who is the audience for this movie? How can you tell?
Are all movies designed to convince you of something? What's it like to watch a movie that promotes beliefs different from yours? How does it feel when you identify with a movie's perspective?
What do you think of the concept of using a courtroom to debate Jesus' existence? Is it effective or heavy handed? And what do you think about the incident that landed Grace in trouble? Did she cross a line, or was the subject a legitimate historical question?
How does Grace demonstrate perseverance? Do you consider her a role model?
- In theaters: April 1, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2016
- Cast: Melissa Joan Hart, Ray Wise, David A.R. White, Jesse Metcalfe
- Director: Harold Cronk
- Studio: Pure Flix Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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