Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine

Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley) is a confused and broken little boy who is simply not willing to let his dreams remain dreams. Bart has a passion for music, singing, and songwriting. It is this passion that keeps him alive and makes him resilient. Only his mother can understand what he’s going through, but chooses to flee for her own safety, leaving her only child to be raised by a monster of a father.

“I Can Only Imagine” is a newly released film taking the box office by storm. Many of the theaters were sold out for the opening weekend. Hollywood has believed the lie that sex sells. This movie is a lethal blow to this lie, and the entertainment and film industries have been served another wake-up call. Clean and wholesome Christian films like this one are leaving them stunned and have caught them completely off-guard. This film is not loaded with violence and sexual scenes, yet it has captivated many audiences so far. The number of theaters showing the movie has increased.

The plot thickens when both of Bart’s ankles are broken in a football accident. Arthur (Dennis Quaid), Bart’s dad, seems more disappointed that his playing career is over than Bart does.

“I’m gonna teach you something, Bart,” Arthur says. “Dreams don’t pay the bills. Nothing good comes from it. All it does is keep you from all of this, from knowing what’s real,” as he waves his arm around their rural Texas home in Greenville.

Tears run down Bart’s cheek when his dad proceeds to burn the cardboard helmet that he spent all day creating. Actions do speak louder than words. Arthur feels trapped in a small town working as a mechanic and comes home at night to “kick the dog,” so to speak. His displaced anger, however, is destroying his wife and child’s lives. There are a few graphic scenes of him throwing a milk jug at Bart, and later striking him so hard with an object that it causes his son to bleed.

Between these episodes of anger, Bart is left to find himself at a youth camp, where he meets Shanon (Trace Adkins), his anchor. She encourages and gives hope to this dreamer who is being raised by a man whose dreams (of being a football star) are already dead. In high school, she challenges him to try out for the choir. This class and his teacher, who casts Bart in the lead role of the musical without allowing him to audition, turn his ship around toward a distant lighthouse that is beckoning him to discover his destiny. He’s the writer of the number-one Christian song in America, “I Can Only Imagine,” by MercyMe.

If you are only able to attend one movie this year, choose this one. We all fall short. Everyone has been hurt. We all need healing, and this poignant film has the potential to transform your life, not just entertain you through another bucket of popcorn.

It challenges us all to ask for forgiveness and to forgive those who have hurt or failed us. Pain often propels one to a future of hope, and forgiveness sets us free.

What will your response be to this epic film? I can only imagine….
“People are fed up with having to wade through spiritual excrement in the form of foul language, sexual immorality, and violence, just to make it through a film, which might actually have a good storyline,” wrote Jolomi Karlsson, who is a director and producer. “Some of us are tired of having to constantly fast forward certain scenes in a film in order to protect our own minds, and of those in our care.”

“Yet, a quiet revolution is taking place at the box office,” Karlsson goes on to write. “The entertainment industry is being forced to sit up and take notice, and can no longer ignore it. Money talks, and Christians have financial clout. Sadly, as yet, many of us have not yet fully understood our financial power.”

As Christians put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, they will know they have far more power than they realize. Thomas More once said, “If the lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.”

At a Glance:

“I Can Only Imagine” is currently playing at the Regal Albany 7 Cinemas, Carmike 12 Corvallis and Regal Stadium Cinema, and April 26 may be the last showing.

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