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 Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith is the sequel to 2001's biographical drama The Other Side of Heaven, with Christopher Gorham reprising his role as renowned Mormon missionary Elder John H. Groberg. This movie (like the first, based on Groberg's memoirs) picks up about a decade after the events of the first film, with Groberg a married father of five who feels called to return to Tonga with his family as president of the Tonga-Fiji Mission. The story focuses on the tensions between the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Protestant churchgoers who disagree with and are prejudiced against Mormons. Expect a few frightening scenes, including the death of a young man who is struck by lightning, a storm that looks like it's going to consume a family on a boat, and a dangerously ill infant. But there's no swearing, drinking/drug use, or sexual content. Ultimately this biopic is about Groberg's continued faith and how two fathers from different Christian denominations learn to respect one another.
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What's the story?
THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN 2: FIRE OF FAITH takes place about a decade after the events of The Other Side of Heaven. In the mid-'60s, John Groberg (Christopher Gorham) is a bishop in his Idaho Falls community of the Church of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons). Married to Jean (now played by Natalie Medlock, rather than Anne Hathaway) and the father of five daughters, Groberg is called to accept a role as president of the church's mission to Tonga-Fiji. When they get there, the Grobergs discover that the church is growing. But not everyone is thrilled about the LDS success in evangelizing the local population: Methodist preacher Sione (Ben Baker) is vehemently opposed to Mormons and is particularly hostile when his own son converts. Then tragedy strikes both Sione and John, and eventually the two fathers join each other in prayer and encouragement.
Is it any good?
Families of faith who believe in the power of prayer and spreading their good news to other cultures will appreciate this biopic about a revered leader's mission work in the South Pacific. It's not surprising that Hathaway skipped this quiet sequel, given her career trajectory since the 2001 original was released, but it's good that Gorham reprises his role, which he inhabits effortlessly. As with all faith-based films, it's unlikely that anyone who doesn't belong to a church that emphasizes international mission and ministry will find a point of connection to the story of The Other Side of Heaven 2. But within the genre of Christian movies, it's one of the better ones, thanks to good production values, professional actors, and a memoir-based plot that emphasizes the importance of family and community.
The movie's dramatic tension is twofold. First, there's Baker's Methodist minister, Sione, who considers the LDS church and its missionaries a threat to his own church and congregants. And then there are the tragedies that bind Sione and John as fathers with strong faiths. Other sequences show what changed in the decade in between Groberg's two visits to Polynesia, with some references to characters introduced in the first Other Side of Heaven. While viewers don't need to see the original movie to follow the events of the sequel, it helps to understand Groberg's history as a young missionary there.
Talk to your kids about ...
How do John and his family draw on their faith in making decisions? How does faith change the Methodist preacher's views about the Grobergs and LDS?
Do viewers need to be Mormon to enjoy the movie? Parents, discuss your family's personal values and beliefs about not only religion but also international missions.
- In theaters: June 28, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: October 1, 2019
- Cast: Christopher Gorham, Natalie Medlock, Russell Dixon
- Director: Mitch Davis
- Studio: ArtAffects Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some thematic material including violence
- Last updated: September 30, 2019
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