A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Lots of encouraging faith-based messages, with biggest one being that there may be purpose for some pain, suffering, loss. God answers prayers, even if it doesn't always play out as you think. Themes include communication, courage, gratitude, humility.
Positive Role Models
There's really no one in this film who isn't a role model; people aren't just good -- they're amazing. One instance in which better choices could have been made, but situation came with good intentions. While cast isn't especially diverse, representation-wise, some children with disabilities are included -- e.g., Jeremy's brother Josh, who has Down syndrome.
Violence & Scariness
No aggressive violence, but film is about illness, dying, death, with some scenes of pain and peril. Anger/upset caused by illness/being alone is taken out on inanimate objects.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romance is key to the plot, and there's kissing, mostly once the central couple gets engaged.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Still Believe is based on the real-life love story of Christian rock artist Jeremy Camp (Riverdale's KJ Apa) and his first wife, Melissa (Britt Robertson), who gets ovarian cancer shortly after they meet. Despite her terminal diagnosis, Jeremy proposes and stands by her side as she fights the illness and their love deepens. If you're in the market for role models, look no further: This couple is as wholesome as they come (the only villain here is cancer). They don't even kiss until they first say "I love you." In fact, their love is so idealistic that the only potential concern is that it might set up unrealistic expectations for kids. While iffy content is minimal and positive faith-based messages/themes abound -- including the value of communication, courage, gratitude, and humility -- the story's focus on sickness, dying, and death could be too much for younger or more sensitive kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This love story has the heart swells of The Notebook, the unexpected twists of a Nicholas Sparks novel, and the anguish of The Fault in Our Stars: The proof is your depleted tissue box. What elevates I Still Believe is that it's true. If it weren't, it would be too sappy and overwrought to accept as reality. But Camp has been telling this story at concerts for years, and the events really did happen to him and his first wife, Melissa. Most of the story takes place at the Orange County Bible college that Jeremy and Melissa attended, and there's not a shady character here: These kids do the right thing, strive to make good choices, and are all-around great role models. There is a moment in which their actions are hurtful to someone -- and you'll definitely want to talk with kids about what might have been a better way to handle it -- but it's easy to appreciate that at least their hearts were in the right place. Yes, Jeremy and Melissa may be too good to be true (and, really, who would begrudge them perfection?), but they're just the kind of people most parents would like their kids to spend time with.
This is a full-fledged faith-based film, and it's a victory for the Christian creative community. A tragic, young adult, music-centered biopic romance is a brilliant approach: I Still Believe mixes A Walk to Remember with Rocketman. And kudos to directors Andrew and Jon Erwin for having the self-restraint to not make the movie about Camp's rising-star status, instead, letting that occur subtly in the background. The film is beautifully shot -- if only we could all live in a world lit by cinematographer Kristopher Kimlin. From characters luxuriating in a sun-drenched room to a smoky haze beaming through the window, Kimlin may have invented a "God" filter. Apa and Robertson are marvelous together, and co-star Gary Sinise exhibits a natural ease. While the script could use some punching up, overall, it's on par with most romance movies. And sure, there are a couple of things that a cynic could take shots at, but considering the squeaky clean story, admirable characters, and positive approach to some of life's most difficult moments, parents may think their prayers have been answered.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.