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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unstoppable is more of a sermon than a documentary. For a little more than an hour, Kirk Cameron (a popular young teen of Growing Pains fame in the '80s) tries to answer the eternal religious mystery: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? He speaks directly to the audience throughout, illustrating some of his heartfelt Christian beliefs with a number of visual scenes and sequences taken from the Bible, as well as current-day events (an "imagined" business meeting and an actual funeral). The depiction of Bible stories, as they are seen here (some sensual, some brutal), may be disturbing or frightening to kids; the Cain and Abel portion, specifically, is accompanied by some violent and bloody images. Primarily of appeal to teens and adults who already have a strong religious mindset.
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What's the story?
Using a teenager's death from cancer as UNSTOPPABLE's point of departure, Kirk Cameron earnestly tries to explain God's purpose in allowing "bad things to happen to good people." By tracing the biblical history of man as Adam takes his first breath rising from the mud of the earth and moving forward to the climactic resurrection of Jesus, Cameron hopes to impart his personal understanding of God's message, God's protection, and the need for the viewers to retain unshakeable faith in the face of adversity. Cameron addresses the audience directly for most of the film. It's an earnest, passionate plea. He further illustrates his viewpoints with some strong images set in Adam and Eve's Garden of Eden and at the scene of Abel's death at the hand of his brother, Cain. In a very long section of the film, Cameron intercuts his directive with sad, silent scenes from the teenager's funeral.
Is it any good?
As a film, Unstoppable has little to recommend it. This film is entirely based upon Kirk Cameron's fervent viewpoint; Cameron accepts the Bible as a literal document and expounds upon its teachings to include his own evangelical interpretations of both God's message and His motives. Most likely, its relevance to audiences will depend upon already-existing attitudes and beliefs. Cameron's passion and charisma can't offset the less-than-artful Garden of Eden sequences, the brutal and poorly executed killing of Cain, the clumsy editing throughout, and one particularly inept scene set in an "imagined" business meeting. It's all well intended but amateurish and assembled without subtlety or grace.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the differences between "documentary" films that present actual events without a bias and those which are designed to convince or "sell" a specific attitude or belief. What resources are available to audiences that would help them determine the filmmaker's purpose?
How does the presence of a well-known person or popular celebrity affect your willingness to accept the messages in a documentary film?
How did you feel as you were watching Matthew Sandgren's funeral? Why did Kirk Cameron want you to be a part of someone's very private moments?
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