A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Healed by Grace is a 2012 faith-based film. The title refers to a horse named Grace used in equine therapy to help a former dancer recover from her accident-induced brain injury. Evangelical Christians will probably find the constant references to God's overarching role in people's everyday lives comforting and normal, while others may find it repetitive. A bus accident is suggested but not fully shown. Aleah pours water on the studio floor with the intention of making Riley slip and injure herself.
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What's the story?
In HEALED BY GRACE high school senior Riley (Natalie Weese) has been dancing since childhood and is now auditioning with her dance team to get into a national competition that could help launch a professional career. The jealous and resentful Aleah (April Oberlin), her childhood rival, is also on the team. As a Christian, Riley prays at night that she will be able to love her enemies and always be kind and forgiving to Aleah. Riley beats Aleah in the competition but suffers an injury that impairs her motor skills and makes competing in the nationals dubious. To work her way back, she undergoes equine therapy, and learning to ride helps her regain self-confidence. All along, she reiterates that God has plans for her that might not include dance. Eventually she makes peace with a different life that includes marriage to her therapist and helping others.
Is it any good?
The story is banal and predictable. The constant reminders that God has plans we know nothing about feels unnecessarily repetitive. Riley brings sweetness and light to all she meets, and thus, even in adversity, we are assured that good things will happen to her. Indiana-based writer-director David Matthew Weese casts his daughter as Riley, and although she seems to be a competent dancer, it's difficult to imagine her ever beating in competition the far more compelling actor who plays Aleah. Some kids might be interested, but many will be bored by the heavy-handed tone. Horse-loving kids will be disappointed that Grace the horse doesn't play as big of a role as the title would suggest. Religious families are the intended audience; nonreligious families might want to make a different choice for movie night.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how well the movie depicts the process of therapy. Does the idea of riding horses to gain brain function make sense as depicted here?
How does this story compare to other movies about competitive underdogs overcoming obstacles?
The movie suggests good people pray for their enemies. Why do you think that would be a positive thing to do?
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