Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to

Paul's Promise

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Faith-based racism redemption drama has drinking, smoking.

Movie PG 2022 96 minutes
Paul's Promise Movie Poster

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Holdenfield provides a powerful real-life example of someone overcoming harmful mistakes by creating meaningful change. But the presentation of the material feels like it's tailored for White Christian families with teens. Paul's mother is a loving, caring woman whose commitment to God fills her every breath. She doesn't speak about much else and is relentless in her desire to get Paul to church, where she's sure he'll finally make a connection with God and be saved. To a faith-based audience, this message of constant evangelism will reinforce the idea of never giving up. But if you're not someone of faith, Minnie's insistence will be hard to take. It's even harder to accept her as a positive force once it becomes clearer that, because of her faith, she actively chose to stay in a violent marriage that subjected her children to continual physical abuse and trauma.

Of course, Paul does have a "come to Jesus" moment (otherwise there wouldn't be a movie). And it's inspired much more by facing his cowardice and racist complicitness than fulfilling his mother's dying wish. Paul denies knowing his childhood best friend, Jimmy (Josef Cannon), who's Black. Jimmy's faith, meanwhile, provides him the patience to calmly sustain the racist attacks on his home. It's through Jimmy's approach of turning the other cheek that Paul is overwhelmed by kindness he doesn't deserve and finally begins to make positive change. The filmmakers suggest that it's God who helps Paul find the right path through the help and support of other people of faith, of whom Jimmy is just one. There's plenty to dissect here for families who want to have a complex conversation, but the target audience is most likely to appreciate the movie's messages of forgiveness, approaching problems with actions of love, and that it's never too late to do the right thing.

Movie Details

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