Hope Ranch

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Hope Ranch Movie Poster Image
Sincere, unoriginal faith-based story about grief and hope.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 85 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Abundance of faith-based messages about having faith in God and "never losing hope, despite the odds." Also strongly promotes giving service, charity, belief in miracles, and doing the hard work required to achieve goals. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Central teen character loses her faith after tragedy and slowly regains it. She also finds her innate selflessness and concern for others despite momentary lapses along the way. Her father is an ideal: uncompromisingly honest, hardworking, charitable, loving. The family's mom has her heart in the right place, but is less than resourceful. Other than implementing a garage sale, she does little to save her home, instead relying on faith and miracles to assist. Ethnic diversity.

Violence

A parent dies.

Sex

Innocent budding romance.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hope Ranch is an earnest, faith-based movie about grief, trust in God, and the will to endure. In the story of survival after the death of a parent, the remaining two family members must call upon their religious teachings, their community, and their inherent hope to guide them. The well-worn messages are substantial and repeated often. The small-town Colorado community at the heart of the film represents the traditional values of folks coming together in times of difficulty and remaining steadfast to one another. There are sad and nostalgic moments with remembrances (flashbacks) of the family together, many of them portraying the strength and goodness of the father who left his family in service to his country. This wholesome but unoriginal movie, with a teen and her beloved horse at its center, is meant especially for fans of Christian-based stories.

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What's the story?

Loving father, hardworking rancher, and reserved army sergeant Mike (John Schneider) is unexpectedly deployed to the Middle East in HOPE RANCH. His wife Becky (Marisa Brown) and daughter Grace (Grace Van Dien) are upset and worried, but Mike appeals to their patriotism and faith, so they promise to stay steadfast and hopeful during his absence. Sadly, Mike is killed soon after his departure. It takes only a short time for Grace to lose her faith and for Becky to realize that the family's already limited resources are nearly gone. She's sold their cattle, but it's only a matter of time before the beloved ranch will be foreclosed upon. Grace, relying on her devoted horse Faith for solace, as well as a budding romance with a local farm boy, is still hurting, too, but unaware of their precarious financial position. Pastor Williams (T.C. Stallings), a trusted ally, urges Becky to maintain her belief in God and do all she can to find a way to solvency. Reluctantly, Becky decides to sell the bulk of the family's possessions. Grace is devastated once again when hears the news, but joins forces with her mom. Unfortunately, the sale doesn't raise nearly enough. The bank, whose calls and letters Becky has ignored, officially forecloses on the ranch. In one last hasty late-night effort, Becky finds a buyer for Faith; Grace is shattered for the third time. And, worst of all, the sale of the horse doesn't provide the necessary funds either. The house is empty. The horse is gone. Grace is fiercely angry. Becky has given up all hope. If there are such things as miracles, the time is right.

Is it any good?

Filled with heartfelt, time-tested homilies and religious principles, this well-intentioned movie struggles to make the story a solid example of the messages it delivers. The performances are fine; John Schneider is particularly at ease and natural in his idealized role. There are sumptuous visuals of the pastoral ranch setting. Small-town citizens and an inspired preacher work miracles in Hope Ranch

However, there's a significant problem with the way both Becky's character and her story arc are written, and it's no fault of Marisa Brown, the actress. Likable, compassionate, and loyal Becky may be, but resourceful she is not. Rather, she's a throw-back to the damsel-in-distress of the past. Charged by the pastor (and her husband in flashbacks) to rely upon hope and faith, Becky is also charged with making an effort to help herself. When her only actions -- selling their simple household goods and one pet horse -- don't raise enough money, she's done. An especially thoughtless venture is selling Grace's horse when she knows it won't matter. But it makes for a dramatic moment, so she does it. Even when she gets a temporary reprieve, she's devoid of any constructive ideas for the future. Grace's turnaround isn't grounded either. Along with her mother's minimal attempts, it's simplistic, lazy storytelling that hurts what have been an inspiring, though familiar, movie experience. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of faith-based movies like Hope Ranch. What folks are the filmmakers hoping to reach with such films? Do you think you have to be religious to enjoy them? Why or why not?

  • Pastor Williams did more than preach and comfort Becky and Grace. How did he use his beliefs and his ministry to impact their lives? In what ways do religious organizations have the means and motivation to "talk-the-talk" and "walk-the-walk" of messages they deliver? In your community, think of some specific examples. Do you have to be religious in order to help them?

  • Think about Becky's attempts to save the family ranch. Other than holding an estate sale and selling the horse, what did she do to solve her problems? Can you think of some possible options for Becky (i.e., find work, negotiate with the bank) other than the "miracle" that eventually saved them? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love faith-based tales

Themes & Topics

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