Tyson’s Run—Review

Tyson’s Run is about a teen boy who wants to be the son his father always wanted. Tyson is a 15-year-old, played by Major Dodson (The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and Left Behind), who wants to be accepted by his father, but his autism stops him from being a star on his father’s champion high school football team.

Tyson realizes that homeschooling won’t help him with algebra because his mother can’t teach him what she doesn’t understand. Together, the two push for Tyson to attend the high school where his father coaches. While some students pick on Tyson, most respect him because of his dad’s reputation.

After school, Tyson notices Aklilu, played by Barkhad Abdi (Blade Runner 2049, The Pirates of Somalia, and Captain Phillips), running around the track. He instinctively joins in and soon learns that his body can’t keep up with the marathoner without the needed skills. Aklilu shares some words of wisdom that inspire Tyson to desire to be a champion marathoner and get his father’s attention.

There are many heartfelt moments in this film that Dodson initiates with ease. Some of the actors excel in this production like Amy Smart (Stargirl, Rat Race, and Just Friends) as Tyson’s mom. While others seem to be cutting their teeth for the first time without the proper preparation.

The production length or schedule may have been tight. In a film of this type, the character of Tyson needs to show improvements in running techniques from the start of the film to the end. An autistic child with the hyper-focused determination to run a marathon would certainly gain techniques each week.

The director, Kim Bass (Day of Days, Kill Speed, and Junkyard Dog), knew the importance of demonstrating this development. In fact, we see it demonstrated in Tyson’s Spanish class. His biology class also demonstrates his ability to focus on body parts and their definitions in more depth than any student or teacher.

But we didn’t see Tyson’s flat-footed running and stiff-armed movements benefit from his hyper-focus. His running methods at the end of the film seemed to match the beginning of the film. It’s as if the director never sought a running coach for developmental insights.

Aside from the lack of realism concerning Tyson’s growth, the film invites viewers into a wonderful conversation about the authenticity and heartfelt drive all teenagers face. More importantly, we see the sometimes-misguided views parents hold when they refuse to let their teens grow up.

This is a good film for the entire family to watch together. There are enough challenges and perspectives faced in the story to launch a real conversation with all ages of family members. And for those who prefer entertainment without lessons or politics, this film checks off all the boxes of an underdog story overcoming their shortcomings.

Also, the subplot about Tyson’s dad working through his ignorance demonstrates how a little bit of information provided through kindness can alter the lives of many. This is done with a backdrop that the dad is not a fool, but a highly respected man in the community. The juxtaposition of respect and ignorance helps the audience realize that all differences should be addressed with kindness, not anger.

The film opens this weekend in theaters. You can learn more about the movie on their website. You can also purchase tickets in advance. Director Kim Bass has worked hard to make this film a success for your family to see in theaters, so take time to check it out.

Copyright © 2022 by CJ Powers

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American Underdog—Review

We love underdog stories.

There is nothing better than a redemptive story to catch our attention and emotionally drive us to the super bowl of hope. This is when dreams become realities. This is also the true story of Kurt Warner.

The movie “American Underdog” stars Shazam’s Zachary Levi as football MVP Kurt Warner. The quarterback hopeful went from a stock boy at a small-town grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback.

The film covers warner’s many setbacks that seemed to derail his life all too often. But when things were at their worst, he swallowed his pride to take care of his wife and family by agreeing to play in the Arena Football League.

The struggles did not stop and their marriage hit the rocks. But Warner dug deep with the support of his wife. He continued working diligently toward each small success in front of him.

Then his break came. Warner and his wife Brenda grew closer in time for his NFL debut. That year Warner took the St. Louis Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV. They won the championship and Warner was the first undrafted player named NFL and Super Bowl MVP.

And this Cinderella story was real. The undrafted Warner miraculously took the Rams to the championship in his first year. The now Hall of Fame quarterback demonstrated that anything is possible when you have faith, family, and determination.

But wait, this film is NOT a football story.

The story focuses on Warner’s relationship with his wife Brenda. We learn how they met and his drive to be a part of her life. We see many of the obstacles they had to overcome including some of their foolish mistakes.

The story is heartfelt and better than most Hallmark Christmas movies. We watch real people struggle with real-life situations. We see how they fought to overcome each battle.

Had ten minutes been trimmed from the film, I’d want to watch it over and over again.

Okay, but Levi, in a dramatic role? Really?

Oh, my word, YES!

Levi stepped up big time in this role. His acting chops were at the top of his game. He drew me into this story so well, I never gave one thought to his goofy Shazam character.

Now, keep in mind I’ve appreciated Levi’s skills for some time. I adored his stylistic Benjamin character in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I even thoroughly enjoyed his stint as the beloved character in his “Chuck” TV series. And, of course, I even watched his Fandral character in the MCU.

But his Kurt Warner character was by far his most realistic dramatic role. Congratulations, Levi!

There is enough football in the story to keep fans happy. There is also some incredible heartfelt drama to keep romantics happy. But most importantly, the story focuses on family. We see the results of a family that stays together because of their deep love and commitment.

This film is a true inspiration for those who believe faith, family, and determination are the key ingredients to real success.

American Underdog releases on Christmas Day. It’s rated PG so the entire family can get a glimpse at the importance of love and family.

Congratulations to the Erwin brothers who brought us “I can only Imagine” and “Woodlawn.” You have done the industry and your fans proud.

To learn more about American Underdog you can go to their site here. For those who want tickets, they are available here.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When We Last Spoke — Review

Every now and again a movie comes out that takes us back to nostalgic times. If you like films that demonstrate respect, forgiveness, and a wholesome lifestyle based on a Judeo-Christian worldview, then When We Last Spoke is for you.

The story is about Juliet and her sister Evangeline. In 1967, their father is called to Vietnam and their mother dumps them off at their grandparents’ house on her way to New York. Throughout their life, the two girls have to battle with multiple family issues until the truth finally brings them together decades later.

The film stars Corbin Bernsen (Pysch), Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie), and Academy Award winner, Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein). These actors are superb as you’d expect, but the real star was Darby Camp (Big Little Lies), who played the young Juliet.

If you want to see an incredibly emotional performance from a young actress, this movie will play on your heart for weeks to come. In fact, the way Melissa Gilbert and Darby Camp played off of each other was magical.

The movie was adapted from the book written by Marci Henna. Rick Eldridge (The Ultimate Gift) produced. His production company ReelWorks Studios produced the film on location in Georgia.

The film will take you down memory lane at the same pace that life unfolded back in the day. The richness of the characters and the deep respect was a reminder of how much we’ve lost in our country. So, if you’d like to bath in that atmosphere for two hours, pick up a copy of this movie.

When We Last Spoke was recognized at several film festivals. Not only did it win Best Picture at the ICVM Awards, but it grabbed the hearts of audiences. Two festivals voted the film as the “Audience Favorite,” which can be a far more valuable award to receive. Bernsen, Gilbert, and Leachman also took home awards for their performances.

You can find the movie on Amazon Prime. It’s also available for purchase from Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble. If you prefer On Demand, then check out the film at Fandango Now, Apple TV, and Christian Cinema.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”