To Joey, with Love

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
To Joey, with Love Movie Poster Image
Heartbreakingly beautiful doc about devout singers' lives.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Secular messages include the importance of living each day to the fullest, making the most of individual gifts, and being grateful for the simple joys of family, parenting, and friendships. Christian messages include accepting of God's plan, having faith and gratitude at even the darkest times, being true to your beliefs, and finding comfort in religious practice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Feeks are ethical, courageous, unselfish, committed to their family, and exemplary parents. A day-to-day chronicle during extraordinary times depicts their resilience and devotion and their exceptional relationship. The film's portrait of a baby with Down syndrome over her first two years is both remarkable and enlightening.  

Violence

No violence, as such, but the Feeks deal with some very difficult, emotional, and sad situations, including (spoiler alert!) complications during childbirth and a cancer diagnosis.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Incidental identification of medical facilities/products (i.e., Snoogle, Park & Seed).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Family toasts the New Year.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that To Joey, with Love is a documentary about Joey and Rory Feek. Successful country music singer-songwriters, the Feeks take time off from their busy careers to welcome their first child and spend a year with the baby on the family farm. The movie captures life's many highs and lows and is both happy and sad, comic and tragic. Because the Feek family is devoutly Christian, their faith is an important part of their journey; other themes include gratitude and courage. Be prepared for (possible spoiler alert!) scenes of at-home childbirth (no nudity or depiction of the actual birth), breastfeeding (no exposed breasts), medical procedures, hospice care, and a family in mourning. It's a heartfelt film that tells a sad but compelling story, and it may motivate meaningful family discussion.

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What's the story?

Just before the birth of their first baby in TO JOEY, WITH LOVE, Joey and Rory Feek decide to spend a year at home on their family farm. Their country music singing/songwriting career is successful and satisfying. But the Feeks think this is the right time for their family to grow and bond, out of the limelight. Devoted to his Christian faith, Rory chooses to film their special year together as they discover "what God has in store for them." Nothing could have prepared them for the events that unfold. (Spoiler alerts!) Joey's planned-for at-home birth has scary complications. Indiana, their beautiful baby girl, is diagnosed with Down syndrome. And, only 12 weeks later, Joey learns that she has cervical cancer. Watching Indiana ("Indy") grow and thrive gives Joey's life new purpose, and Feeks vow to make the most of the time they've been given, no matter what the outcome of Joey's diagnosis. Over the next two years, the family experiences the highest highs and the lowest lows. Throughout, the Feeks' love for each other, strong religious convictions, and support from family members give them the courage to embrace even their darkest days.

Is it any good?

Tender and beautifully written, directed, and produced, this true-life story is unforgettable. Joey, Rory, and baby Indiana take an emotional journey together in To Joey, with Love, and that journey is fully shared with the film's audience. The couple's country/Christian music is used as the score throughout the film, adding to the emotional impact.

Some of the events in the Feeks' lives have been featured on the TV news, in magazines, and on Rory's popular blog, but this movie, created lovingly by Rory with an expert team of filmmakers at his side, is an exceptionally intimate and rewarding experience. And that's true regardless of your religious leanings. While the movie honors Christian precepts and traditions, it's ultimately an indelibly human story for families with mature kids and teens.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how documentaries like To Joey, with Love can enrich or change previously held ideas. For example, how did this intimate look at Indiana Feek's first two years impact what you knew about babies with Down syndrome? What did you learn?

  • Though the movie deals with tragedy, much of it is very positive and life-affirming. Which scenes and characters brought you joy in spite of the dire circumstances?

  • How do the Feeks demonstrate gratitude and courage? Why are those important character strengths?

  • How did Joey's and Rory's songs add to the film's emotional impact? Did they bring you closer to the family? If you hadn't heard the Feeks' music before or aren't a country music fan, did it motivate you to listen to more? 

  • Rory released the movie as a tribute to his wife. In what ways could making the movie and sharing his story help Rory recover from his loss? 

Movie details

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