Valentine’s Day Isn’t Just For Sweethearts
by Phil Boatwright

Heart-shaped boxed candy, dinner out, and snuggling with the love of your life make for a great Valentine’s Day. But as radical as it may sound, this holiday about love isn’t just for sweethearts. Shared family quality time and letting one another know how much they mean should also be celebrated each February 14. Hollywood on its best behavior has helped remind us of the preciousness of loved ones. Here are a few examples.

This remake clings to the original story of twins attempting to reunite their parents. While employing '90s dialogue and energy, the film maintains the charm of the Hayley Mills 1960s version. This 1998 redo stars Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, and a new-to-film-scene, Lindsay Lohan, who reveals a promising acting future and an innocence she quickly lost. (PG)

Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams star in this 1991 comedy remake of a classic (also worth watching) with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. The update is a sensitive, often hilarious look at a daughter’s upcoming wedding through the eyes of her loving father who comes to realize he has to let go of his little girl. (PG)

Based on a true story of a family who embrace a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, it stars Sandra Bullock, who gave an Oscar-winning performance as earthy, no-nonsense Christian who saw teenager Michael Oher wandering the streets, looking lost and in need. But as the real-life Leigh Anne Tuohy has said, “I think Michael had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his. You take so much in life for granted, but when Michael moved in with us, he made us realize how blessed we are. We viewed life differently after he joined our family.”

Note about the rating: The film receives a PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence (including a gunshot) and for drug and sexual references. We do not see drug use, but it is obvious that a couple of the youths in the bad part of town are trading in narcotics. Also, there are several mild expletives and at least one obscenity, but I caught no misuse of God’s name. You might find the content unsuitable for little ones.

A Prodigal Daughter tale about a talented 18-year-old child of a former rock star who wants to find her own fame. The filmmakers have updated the biblical parable by changing the lead’s gender, with the father needing to learn as many lessons as his wayward child. The story is now set in the music world, allowing actress AJ Michalka to make full use of her musical gifts.

It’s a film not afraid to mention the name Jesus. Oh, most films do that, but here His name is not uttered as an angry expletive, but rather mentioned as a centerpiece to the spiritual life of several characters. Being a devout Christian herself, I’m sure this is the icing on the cake for Ms. Michalka – to be the star of a movie meant to honor God, strengthen the body of Christ, and witness to members of an industry caught up in the Me-ism of celebrity.

The same issues have been addressed in Hollywood films, with the female lead asking herself what she is willing to sacrifice in order to attain stardom. But Grace Unplugged successfully adds a spiritual component, making it even more relevant and relatable. At some point it’s a question each Christians must ask himself or herself – Am I willing to take Christ off the thrown in order to achieve success? (PG)

A dedicated fireman is on the brink of divorce. But before the papers are signed, he’s challenged by his father to commit to a 40-day experiment he calls The Love Dare.

Like Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, Kirk Cameron’s Caleb Holt is a good man, but one with flaws and foibles. Supported by Erin Bethea’s three-dimensional portrait as the firefighter’s wife, Kirk and company approach an important issue: the sanctity of marriage. In a culture that promotes the quick disposal of friendships and marriages at the first hint of dissatisfaction, here is a movie that declares life-long unions are worth fighting for. (PG)