A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has some bloody injuries, scary storms, and character deaths. Native girls go off with sailors who offer passage in exchange for sex. Characters abuse alcohol. John makes it clear that in his view sex is only for those bound by marriage in a covenant of eternal love. Despite the superficiality, it is always good to see a movie character who has a strong spiritual and moral commitment that informs his choices.
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What's the story?
Following his graduation from Brigham Young University, young Mormon missionary John Groberg (Christopher Gorham) embarks on an 83-day journey to the tiny Tongan island where he will be stationed for two years. His only link with home is the monthly mail delivery, and the letters he writes to the girl he hopes to marry (Anne Hathaway) provide the narration. John faces challenges from the culture and setting. The local minister (a Tongan Christian) tells the natives not to deal with him, and even sends some to rough him up. A typhoon wipes out all of the island's crops and homes. He is caught in a storm at sea. Those darn natives keep resisting the rules he has come to teach them. And the church criticizes him for not doing his paperwork. Through all of this John is unfailingly wise, patient, and obedient. He cures an injured child with prayer and pre-CPR first aid. He resists a native beauty who offers him sex without commitment. He even proves himself to the rival minister, who not only apologizes but sacrifices himself so that John can survive.
Is it any good?
This gently retro story of a young Morman missionary in the Pacific Islands of Tonga loses some wholesomeness points due to some smug insularity. Through all of his experiences, John never questions his role, so he never really learns or grows.
But despite the film's superficiality, it's always good to see a movie character who has a strong spiritual and moral commitment that informs his choices.
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