My First Miracle

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
My First Miracle Movie Poster Image
Dying teen needs hope at Christmas; mature themes, drinking.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 111 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Promotes belief that miracles can happen. Values stressed: determination, courage, faith, and second chances. "God has a plan."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Central characters, good-hearted at their core, find hope, courage, and the will to change their circumstances. Parental figures are hard-working, loving, and courageous. Lots of ethnic diversity.


Car hits a young man; no injuries. Character smashes his hand on glass, profuse bleeding. Chases. 



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Character is an alcoholic, is seen drinking, getting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My First Miracle is a Christmas story about the magic of possibility and faith. A critically ill teen suffers from a rare form of cancer and needs a bone marrow transplant, but finding a donor with the same ethnic background is both a necessity and a rarity. The film tells her story alongside another about a young homeless man struggling to survive as well. Serious issues, including the economic woes of a low-income family, scarcity of health care insurance, and homelessness, are part of the fabric of the film. Though it's not a preachy film, religion plays a part, too (i.e., a miracle, the ministrations of a clergyman, and "God has a plan"). Expect a bit of violence, including the young man on the run from authorities and one bloody injury. A featured character dies, off camera. No villains here, except illness and a social system that fails many. 

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What's the story?

It's almost Christmas in MY FIRST MIRACLE. Angelica "Jelly" Martin (Katya Martin) is awaiting a bone marrow donor. She has a rare form of cancer, and chances for a match are slim. Her working-class parents, determined and loving, are stressed, struggling to make ends meet, and health insurance is far from secure. At the same time, young Sean (Juan Castano) has fled from an impossible foster situation. He's living on the snowy streets, surviving by his wits, along with his talent for picking pockets. His only friend is Charlie (Sean Patrick Flanery), a down-and-out alcoholic who plays his cello for tips. When Angelica and Sean meet briefly, in a very unorthodox way, there's a spark between them. Sean's unconventional tracking finds Angelica at a medical facility during one of her grueling chemo sessions where she spends much of her time with Tommy (Elijah Eustler-Sharpless), a much younger and very vulnerable patient. A sweet but secret relationship between Sean and "Jelly" begins. As the teen's condition worsens, it appears that there's no hope for anyone. It would take a miracle to change that.   

Is it any good?

Appealing, strong performances from the central actors, along with a feel-good story, lift this "believe in miracles" movie above most low-budget, direct-to-streaming holiday fare. There's built-in predictability, but writer-director Rudy Luna manages to elicit some surprises and real interest for his characters. At times it's slow going, and coincidences abound, but leads Katya Martin and Juan Castano really click and make an impulsive, unlikely relationship work. Young Elijah Eustler-Sharpless is an especially bright light in the production. It's also nice to see supporting characters given some heft. My First Miracle is best for those who enjoy holiday magic; cynics need not apply. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of movies about miracles, especially during the holiday season. What emotions do movies like My First Miracle evoke in audiences? How can everyday people help create "miracles" in their communities at this time of year? 

  • Think about the many different reasons people may become homeless. Sean lives on the streets. In what ways did he have control over his situation; in what ways did he not?

  • Charlie is a mysterious character. How, if at all, did he impact the story? How do you think his life was changed by the events he witnessed?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Character Strengths

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