A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hoovey is a faith-based family drama based on a true story about a talented high school basketball player who, through faith and family, overcomes a debilitating brain tumor to play the sport again. Produced by former Republican Senator Rick Santorum in his new role as CEO of EchoLight Studios, Hoovey is set to premiere primarily in congregations. There's nothing inappropriate in the movie (a few aggressive basketball court scenes, an embrace between a teen couple), but given the subject matter and the scenes that take place in the hospital, it's probably best for older elementary school-aged kids (particularly sports fans) and up.
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What's the story?
Hoovey is based on the true story of Eric "Hoovey" Elliott (Cody Linley), a high school basketball player in rural Northern Illinois. He comes from a wholesome, athletic family: high school sweetheart parents Jeff (Patrick Warburton) and Ruth (Lauren Holly), and talented older sister, Jen (Alyson Stoner). Then one day during basketball practice, Hoovey collapses and blacks out; his firefighter dad assumes that he's suffered a concussion and rushes him to the hospital. But it turns out Hoovey has a large tumor on the base of his brain. Hoovey requires a life-threatening surgery that could limit his ability to walk and talk, much less play basketball. The Elliotts pray and remain faithful, even as Hoovey's chronic condition threatens not just his life but the family's stability.
Is it any good?
If you're looking for a film that concentrates on (Christian) faith and family, this is an ideal choice, because it's well acted and has a predictably pleasant plot. It's obvious from the opening scene, in which Ruth gives a motivational speech to a packed house of business leaders (presumably Christian ones), that Hoovey is going to be a sentimental ride about a family that overcomes hardship. And that's exactly what you get -- the story of a sweet family left reeling in the aftermath of their son's diagnosis.
Compared to more blatantly evangelical fare, Hoovey is actually pretty subtle. While there are certainly church and prayer scenes (the Elliotts' pastor is evangelical actor Stephen Baldwin) and discussions of faith, this isn't as sanctimonious as, say, a Kirk Cameron film. Linley is appropriately adorable as a young Christian athlete, and veteran actors Holly, Warburton, and Charles Robinson (best known as sarcastic clerk Mac in the classic '80s sitcom Night Court) make Hoovey far superior to a project that clearly cast parishoners who like to act instead of real actors. As a "by believers, for believers" film, Hoovey is better than expected, but secular audiences might be confused by how heavily immersed even the public school coach is in his players' faith.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of faith-based films. For Christian families -- do you prefer movies with a faith-based message to secular movies? How does this one stack up to others? For non-Christian families -- do you have an interest in seeing a movie with overtly Christian themes if it also has good production values and performances?
Why are movies about sports and athletes so compelling? Why is Hoovey's story inspiring?
Hoovey has a very close relationship with his parents. Is that believable? Why do you think so many movies about teens portray them as having adversarial relationships with their parents?
- In theaters: January 31, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: May 5, 2015
- Cast: Lauren Holly, Patrick Warburton, Cody Linley
- Director: Sean McNamara
- Studio: EchoLight Studios
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, High School
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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