Where Hope Grows

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Where Hope Grows Movie Poster Image
Moving faith-based friendship drama not just for believers.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A positive influence can transform a life. A tale of redemption and friendship, the movie is about finding a friend where you least expect one, stepping up to own your mistakes, and reconnecting with your children.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Produce is always optimistic, generous, and kind. He helps Calvin take a closer look at his life and re-examine his destructive impulses. Calvin stops drinking, starts going to church, and joins an AA group. He also gets a job he loves and lets go of his anxiety and shame. Katie realizes that Colt is a jerk and that she shouldn't be with him. She also realizes her father needs her support.

Violence

Colt pressures Katie for sex, even after she confesses she's a virgin and isn't ready. He calls her a "tease" and is forceful about her owing him sex. He attempts to rape her, but someone knocks him out with a fire extinguisher. Colt threatens Produce more than once. Calvin punches his best friend. A terrible accident between a drunk driver and another character. One person dies.

Sex

Katie and Colt kiss a few times and make out on a bed, but she's not ready to have sex. Katie and her father discuss sex; she calls him a hypocrite, since he obviously had sex in high school. A married woman attempts to kiss a man who isn't her husband, but he flinches away.

Language

Insults like "retard," "'tard," "slow," "dumb," "prick," "tease," and "loser," plus "damn," "BS," and "hell."

Consumerism

Jeep Wrangler.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Calvin is an alcoholic; for most of the movie, he almost always has some kind of drink in his hand. Calvin's best friend, Milt, is also a heavy drinker. Other adults drink recreationally. Another supporting character is a recovering alcoholic who goes to AA meetings. Terrible car crash involving a drunk driver.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Where Hope Grows is a moving faith-based drama that's also likely to appeal to anyone who's interested in a touching story of redemption and friendship. The movie focuses on an alcoholic former Major League Baseball player who strikes up a friendship with a grocery store produce stocker with Down syndrome. The movie deals with some heavy themes -- including substance abuse, unhealthy relationships, adultery, the pressure to have sex, and a scary accident that kills one character. It also makes the delcaration that the "R" word ("retarded") should be seen as unusable as the "N" word. But this powerful film also explores the transformative power of friendship and faith and embraces the idea of redemption.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymaryp68 May 21, 2015

Great movie!

They do not use God's Name in vein.
Parent Written byibrad February 15, 2016

Beware the PG-13 rating

We had an afternoon available and took my 12 yr old son to watch this moving thinking it would be a feel good, Christian, good message type movie. Was not at al... Continue reading

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What's the story?

WHERE HOPE GROWS is a faith-based fim about the kind of friendship that comes out of nowhere but changes your life forever. Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) was once a Major League Baseball player, but he's now a single alcoholic raising a perpetually disappointed 17-year-old daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller). One day at the local ValuMart, Calvin ends up in a conversation with "Produce" (David DeSanctis), a grocery store clerk with Down syndrome. After Calvin has increasingly chatty interactions with Produce, the two become friends outside of the grocery store, too. As Calvin grows closer to his generous-hearted new friend, he begins to make positive changes (joining AA, going to church) to turn himself from a bitter baseball washout into a productive and protective friend and father.

Is it any good?

In the genre of faith-based cinema, this is one of the rare movies that doesn't feel like an evangelical tract. It's a well-acted and engaging story of how the unlikeliest of people can influence you in the best of ways. Yes, there are Christian messages strewn throughout the movie, but it's subtler than many in the genre. Polaha is expertly cast as a washed-up former ballplayer who doesn't know what to do with his life, and his chemistry with DeSanctis is so sweet that their scenes together are the best the movie has to offer.

Despite a few structural missteps -- like tacking on a subplot about Calvin's best friend, Milt (William Zabka), worrying that his wife (Danica McKellar) is having an affair, or making Katie's "bad boy" boyfriend Colt (Michael Grant) so unlikable that it's difficult to understand why she'd even bother with such a stalkerish creep -- Where Hope Grows is a movie that will grow on audiences. Produce and Calvin's friendship is so gentle and endearing that even the sentimental moments don't feel overly precious in this well-done exploration of redemption through kindness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about who you think Where Hope Grows is intended to appeal to. Do you think only families/viewers who embrace the movie's faith-based messages will appreciate it? Why or why not?

  • What is the movie saying about friendship, fatherhood, and change? How are the characters impacted by their relationships?

  • How does the movie depict the teen romantic relationship? Is it realistic? How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids? Parents, talk with your teens about what to do if their boyfriend or girlfriend is pressuring them into sex and/or belittling them about their inexperience.

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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