Michael Christopher Bolten
Letters to God isnt going to be everyones cup of teait wears its heart on its sleeve, and its a big, shining heart full of Jesus and light, which would cause some to think that it may have a niche audience. That assumption is actually sort of true, but you have to keep in mind that the niche is pretty darn big, especially considering this is one of those movies (like that Kirk Cameron Fireproof flick) thats family-viewing fare for church groups around the countryand church groups are quite lucrative. This is a movie you know going in what to expect, so be prepared to feel manipulated or inspired, depending on where youre starting from.
As one might expect if they know the title of the movie theyre about to see, this one revolves aroundthats rightsome letters to God. In this case, said letters are being penned by cancer-stricken eight-year-old Tyler Doherty, a way too nice kid living with his mother (Robyn Lively) and older brother (Michael Christopher Bolten). Eventually, Tylers notes make it to his mailman (Jeffrey S.S. Johnson) who, incidentally, is a drinker, and he takes them to a church. He also befriends various people along his mail route, and it all becomes an inspirational examination of prayer and faith.
The thing about movies like this one, or Fireproof, or Left Behind, is that to audiences who arent Christians, they may come off as feeling like church propaganda. Im not saying its true for this one, but scenes of prayer and open discussions of faith sometimes make people uncomfortable. Also, while one group will find the movies sweetness and almost old-fashioned speak refreshing, others will find it sappy or cheesy. None of these things are actually bad in and of themselves; again, those who are looking for a Christian-based movie wont have a problem with any of that stuff, and those who arent probably wont see it anyway. What seems to resonate badly for me is the saintly nature of young Tylersure, I get it, especially since the story is based on the real life of writer Patrick Doughties sons struggle with rare brain cancer Medulloblastomabut while other kids-with-cancer films like My Sisters Keeper manage to allow their young heroes some character levels, Tyler winds up being a too good, perfect child, which detracts from his story and makes him more of a catalyst. Theres a certain old timey charm about Letters to God, and if you just go with it, youll probably cry, but if youre not with your church group or of a like mind, youll probably just be rolling your eyes a lot.
It's Got: Some solid acting, a few teary moments know matter who you are, lots of God talk
It Needs: A little less melodrama, a little more development for Tyler, Kleenex
Alternatives:Pay It Forward, Fireproof, My Sister's Keeper
Letters to God is a sweet tribute to a real-life little boys courageous fight with cancer but as a movie, despite some good performances, it wont appeal to everyone.