A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Letter Writer is a tale of adolescent journey to maturity with extremely positive messages that involves a few scenes of cheating and stealing. Both involve consequences and owning up to the incident, but with additional heavy themes of death, illness, loss, and struggling parenting, it's more suitable for older kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Maggy Fuller (Aley Underwood) doesn't think she's that great of a person. Her mom (Pam Eichner) never says anything nice to her and her relationship with her dad is nonexistent since the divorce. She's not doing so great in school, and isn't always honest. But when she receives a letter from a stranger named Sam Worthington (Bernie Diamond) telling her words of encouragement about her value in the world, she sets out to learn about and from him, ultimately finding out what it means to be truly connected to other people.
Is it any good?
This is a well done, if sentimental, family flick with a positive message: What we put out in the world, good or bad, comes back to us in spades; it's important to find our talent to help people. To follow our hero to this message, we see some heavily wrought types and scenarios -- the overworked single mom, the troubled adolescent, the unreliable dad, the child cancer patient, the reformed senior citizen who spends the rest of his years making up for a harsh tongue through writing uplifting messages to strangers.
But due to excellent acting and nice-looking cinematography, this movie's good heart shines through, and manages to craft a message about connectedness that, while obviously rooted in Christian thinking, has an overall Zen approach to living that involves simply finding purpose in life and living with some kind of positive meaning that embraces goodness. Because of its themes of divorce, illness, death, and the few instances of cheating and stealing, this film is better for older kids. One disappointment was that the mother's harsh criticisms of her daughter were treated as acceptable until the daughter got her act together; this felt like a misstep. Overall, parents can appreciate the realistic portrayal of teen struggles with a positive message about growing up. Kids into music may appreciate the aspiring artist plot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about community. Who are the people who make up your community? What sorts of things do you do to help each other?
What would you say is your biggest talent? What sorts of things do you want to do with it?
Do you ever write or receive letters by hand? Who are they from or to? What sorts of things do you write about? Consider writing a letter to a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in a while. What might your letter say?
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