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"LETTERS TO GOD"
(2010) (Tanner Maguire, Jeffrey S.S. Johnson) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Mild Heavy Moderate None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate Minor Minor None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None Extreme Extreme Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A troubled postal worker gets a new outlook on life when he's assigned a walking route that puts him into contact with an 8-year-old boy with brain cancer who's been sending letters to God about his condition.
PLOT:
Things have been rough lately for the Doherty family. Not long after the sudden and unexpected passing of her husband, Maddy (ROBYN LIVELY) must now contend with the fact that her 8-year-old son, Tyler (TANNER MAGUIRE), has a rare form of brain cancer. With her mom, Olivia (MAREE CHEATHAM), now present to help out at home, Maddy is going to return to work, but Tyler's teenage brother, Ben (MICHAEL BOLTEN), is having issues with all of the bad things that have happened to his family of recent.

Also facing a hard time, albeit of a different sort, is Brady McDaniels (JEFFREY S.S. JOHNSON). He's a postal worker whose wife left him and took their young son following Brady's DUI arrest, yet the troubled man continues to drink. He also has a sour work ethic, meaning he isn't happy when he's assigned to take over the foot delivery route for another mailman who's going on an extended leave.

Brady's new post not only puts him in contact with the cantankerous Cornelius Perryfield (RALPH WAITE) who expects his mail on time every day, but also Tyler who's been sending letters addressed to God. Brady doesn't know what to do with them, but his boss says he should figure it out himself, while the local pastor tells Brady that God choose him to handle those letters. Accordingly, Brady starts to get to know and like the boy and his best friend, Sam (BAILEE MADISON), Cornelius' spunky granddaughter.

She's quite protective of Tyler, and thus doesn't take kindly to other students, such as Alex (C.J. AMARI), who make fun of Tyler when he returns to school following a break in his cancer treatment. With everyone wondering why God is making Tyler go through all of this, the boy learns that he's God's warrior, chosen to make sure everyone sees the light, with his letter writing campaign soon getting others to follow suit.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Those interested in the religious message might want to, but the story of a boy stricken with cancer isn't likely to draw many others.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For thematic material.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • TANNER MAGUIRE plays an 8-year-old suffering from a rare form of brain cancer who just wants to go back to being a normal kid. His condition has made him question why God is making him go through this, and thus he writes letters to the Almighty that soon inspire others to do the same.
  • JEFFREY S.S. JOHNSON plays a troubled postal worker who continues to drink to the point of intoxication after his wife left with their young son following his past DUI arrest. That drinking and his sour work ethic eventually change, however, when he's assigned a foot delivery route, and then meets and befriends Tyler, all of which causes him to reassess his outlook on life and the way he behaves.
  • ROBYN LIVELY plays Tyler's mom who's facing the double whammy of having recently lost her husband to a sudden and unexpected death, followed by her youngest son getting cancer. She worries constantly about him and his condition, somewhat to the detriment of her older son.
  • MICHAEL BOLTEN plays that teenager who hates and is confused by what's been happening to his family to the point that he's developed something of a surly attitude as a coping mechanism.
  • MAREE CHEATHAM plays his grandmother who's arrived to stay with the family and help out while her daughter returns to work. She tries to keep up everyone's faith, both personal and religious.
  • BAILEE MADISON plays Tyler's best friend, a spunky girl who just wants him to be normal and is quite protective of him regarding any bullies at school, such as Alex who she puts in his place.
  • RALPH WAITE plays her grandfather, first seen as cantankerous about getting his mail on time every day, but who turns out to be something of a softie who helps Tyler understand why God has chosen this path for the boy.
  • C.J. AMARI plays a kid at school who initially makes fun of Tyler upon his return, but later sees the light and thus changes his ways.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in PG-rated drama. There is no profanity, but various benign, colorful phrases are present. In a moment of anger and desperation, a man thrashes his room, breaking some things.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some behavior might be enticing for kids to imitate. Tense family material is prevalent throughout the film as are various thematic elements.

    Drinking is present in several scenes, including to the point of intoxication and there are references to a past DUI arrest, while a few scenes involve illness-related vomiting.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Brady has a short attitude toward a bartender he knows, wants another drink, downs it, and is then intoxicated. Others at the bar also drink.
  • Brady then returns to his rental place, finds an empty beer bottle and a full one in the fridge, but then drinks liquor straight from a bottle several times. The next morning we see that the bottle is empty.
  • Brady drinks in bar as do others. The bartender says he's had enough and wants his keys before he pours him another. The intoxicated Brady complies with that and the bartender pours him another.
  • We see a flashback to Brady being arrested for DUI with his young son in tow.
  • In a culmination of anger and frustration over a number of issues, Brady grabs a bottle of booze, but instead of drinking from it, he throws it against a wall.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a large scar on the back of Tyler's bald head.
  • Tyler vomits over the side of his bed following a treatment.
  • Tyler accidentally vomits onto Brady's shoes (we see the motion and hear the sound). Later, Brady complains about that (being "barfed" on) to his boss and another worker says that explains the smell.
  • In a letter to God, Tyler states he already threw up three times that morning.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Another postal worker doesn't like Brady and his bad worth ethic, and thus constantly complains to their boss about him, including calling him a "screw-up" and saying, "He's slow as mud through a straw."
  • Ben has a bit of a surly attitude toward others, mainly as a defensive mechanism to cope with all of the bad things that have happened to his family.
  • Brady has a short attitude toward a bartender he knows.
  • Sam complains that another girl at school smells like liverwurst (and later sarcastically mentions that to the girl at school).
  • Brady is less than thrilled with his new work assignment, commenting, "I'm in Hell."
  • Alex somewhat meanly asks his teacher if cancer is contagious.
  • Upon seeing Tyler back at school, Alex makes fun of him, including asking if he's called "baldie," then calls him a wimp regarding his treatment, and then asks if he's going to stay looking like an alien after Tyler mentions his doctors saying he might not grow like a normal kid due to that treatment.
  • We see a flashback to Brady being arrested for DUI with his young son in tow.
  • In the emotional heat of the moment, Maddy is mad at Brady for encouraging her to allow Tyler to play in a soccer game (at the end of which he collapsed).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The overriding storyline of a boy stricken with cancer, having to go back for more treatment and getting sicker could be unsettling for those sensitive to such matters. That includes a scene near the end of the film where Tyler writes in a letter to God that he thinks he'll be seeing Him soon.
  • Tyler screams out in extreme pain when Olivia gives him part of his treatment, but then reveals he was just faking it as a practical joke (but that initially worries Olivia and Ben, as well as Maddy who's on the phone).
  • A family dog knocks Brady to the ground when he enters the yard on his delivery route. It then bites on his pants leg as he tries to scramble away (he does, to safety). Moments later, the dog jumps against his mail truck's window. While this is all played fairly lightly, those who are afraid of dogs might find the scene unsettling or scary.
  • Having heard his brother say he hates him, Tyler is standing on the edge of the roof and says he'll jump, but Ben knows he won't and tells his brother to sit down (and he does).
  • Right after a soccer game, Tyler is happy and starts to jog across the field, but then collapses, with his body slightly convulsing. We next see him in the hospital, with Maddy getting bad news (that we don't hear).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "The guy's a screw-up," "He's slow as mud through a straw," "Oh Lord have mercy," "Get a life," "Cool it," "Oh, for heaven's sake," "You're a jerk," "This whole thing stinks," "Have you lost your mind?" "Keister," "She smells like liverwurst," "Sweet," "I'm in Hell," "No you knucklehead," "Whatever," "Do they call you baldie?" "Little wimp," "You're a royal pain anyway," "Barf yourself," "They're awesomely fantastic," "Sounds totally stupid," "You're such a dweeb," "You're such a toad," "That's really lame" and "You freaked him out."
  • The film could inspire kids to write and mail their own letters to God (thus spending postage).
  • Tyler screams out in extreme pain when Olivia gives him part of his treatment, but then reveals he was just faking it as a practical joke (but that initially worries Olivia and Ben, as well as Maddy who's on the phone).
  • In response to Alex making fun of Tyler at school, Sam pushes Alex's face down into his food.
  • Having heard his brother say he hates him, Tyler is standing on the edge of the roof and says he'll jump, but Ben knows he won't and tells his brother to sit down (and he does).
  • Tyler wears some fake, exaggerated eyebrows (Vaudeville style) that Cornelius has fashioned for him.
  • Sam uses the window to go in and out of Tyler's bedroom.
  • In a culmination of anger and frustration over a number of issues, Brady grabs a bottle of booze, but instead of drinking from it, he throws it against a wall. He then thrashes the place, breaking a coffee table and throwing stuff around in the process.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A dog suddenly jumps at the window of Brady's mail truck (played for laughs).
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A little bit of suspenseful music (including one moment that's done lightly) is heard in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Maddy shows a little bit of cleavage while bending over.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • For the entire film, the family must deal with Tyler having a rare form of brain cancer.
  • Tyler screams out in extreme pain when Olivia gives him part of his treatment, but then reveals he was just faking it as a practical joke (but that initially worries Olivia and Ben, as well as Maddy who's on the phone).
  • When told he should pray to God, Ben sarcastically replies about what, to not take Tyler since God already has their dad.
  • In one of Tyler's letters, he states he wishes his mom would laugh again, saying he misses that the most.
  • Ben says that all his mom does is bark orders, that it's all about Tyler who's taking up all of their time and money and then says that he hates him. Tyler hears this and runs off, with Ben following him to apologize and state that's not what he really meant.
  • Brady states that he has a young son who lives with the mom and that he doesn't see the boy much.
  • Brady gets a child custody letter in the mail that states full custody of his boy has been awarded to the mom.
  • Maddy briefly talks about losing her husband who died a sudden and unexpected death.
  • Maddy is upset about possibly losing Tyler, stating she doesn't think God cares about any of this. When her mom brings up the Bible, Maddy angrily replies, "The Bible is not curing my son."
  • Maddy worries when Tyler has to go back to the hospital for his next round of treatment.
  • Maddy looks at an old family photo, tells her husband that they miss him, and then tells God He can't have Tyler.
  • A doctor reports to Maddy that there are still spots on Tyler's brain, although they can't be certain yet what they are.
  • Maddy finds Ben's un-mailed letter to God where he states she's been overlooking him.
  • Right after a soccer game, Tyler is happy and starts to jog across the field, but then collapses, with his body slightly convulsing. We next see him in the hospital, with Maddy getting bad news (that we don't hear).
  • We see a flashback to Brady's wife, right after his DUI arrest, angrily asking how he could do that to their son and that they never want to see him again.
  • SPOILER ALERT: A young cancer patient's family and friends gather at his bedside, with the mom saying he can now let go. He then dies (but the death and immediate grieving are not seen).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Cancer and how it affects those who get it, especially kids.
  • How adverse conditions can cause people to question their faith.
  • Dealing with deaths in the family.
  • How adverse conditions can cause both the afflicted as well as bystanders to reassess their lives and behavior.
  • Alcoholism.
  • A pastor tells Brady that God put Tyler's letters in his hands for a reason.
  • Cornelius telling Tyler that the boy was hand-picked by God to be his warrior and help others see the light.
  • Tyler asking if a recent newborn came into the world to replace him.
  • Brady thinking he's a jinx of sorts in that everything he touches turns out badly (he says to dust).
  • VIOLENCE
  • In response to Alex making fun of Tyler at school, Sam pushes Alex's face down into his food.
  • In a culmination of anger and frustration over a number of issues, Brady grabs a bottle of booze, but instead of drinking from it, he throws it against a wall. He then thrashes the place, breaking a coffee table and throwing stuff around in the process.



  • Reviewed April 7, 2010 / Posted April 9, 2010

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