Filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick are known for movies that convict your heart, tug at your emotions and point you toward a major biblical truth.
“Courageous” (2011) urged fathers to take their roles more seriously. “War Room” (2015) encouraged Christians to take prayer more seriously. “Overcomer” (2019) reminded believers of their identity found only in Christ. And “Fireproof” (2008) helped strengthen countless marriages.
The Kendricks will release their latest film, “Lifemark,” Sept. 9. The good news? It has the same emotional punch and gospel-centric truth of those earlier hits.
Inspired by true events, “Lifemark” tells the story of David, an 18-year-old high school student who is enjoying a carefree life when he learns his birth mother wants to contact him.
Thankfully, David’s adoptive parents, played by Kirk Cameron and Rebecca Rogers, have prepared him for this moment by openly discussing his birth history and championing the birth mother’s heroic role in his life. Still, it’s a lot to process.
“I don’t even know her,” David says pensively, unsure what to do.
“There’s no rush,” his father responds.
As we follow this emotion-laden plot, we also get to know more about David and his family’s past. He’s a high school wrestler. He’s also a talented public speaker, and we see that on display as he gives a speech in front of a large audience about his adoption. As he’s speaking we watch his birth mom — hundreds of miles away — Google information about him, thrilled to learn about the young man he has become. It’s one of the movie’s best moments.
Eventually, David becomes friends with her on social media. After a few exchanges, he decides to meet Melissa (Dawn Long) face to face. He’s excited, but nervous, about the in-person visit.
Asked what he may say to Melissa he thinks for a moment and answers solemnly, “Thank you.”
“Lifemark” is an inspiring pro-adoption movie that perfectly captures all the emotions of the adoption process — making you empathetic for both sides as you cheer for David’s success in life.
Via flashbacks, we learn why David’s birth parents placed him for adoption (they were young). We also watch them sort through dozens of paper bios before landing on the mom and dad that became his adoptive parents. (During one emotional scene, we watch a young Melissa place an out-of-the-blue phone call to the future adoptive mom, asking her how she baits her fishing hook.)
Of course, multiple scenes bring tears to your eyes.
The filmmakers, though, smartly use humor to cut the emotional tension thanks to David’s goofball friend, Nate, who is filming a documentary about David’s life and wants him to display more on-screen joy (“You have the emotion of a rock!”).
The film’s lead actor, Raphael Ruggero, is stellar.
It is the first Kendrick Brothers film not directed by Alex (who is an executive producer). That task went to Kevin Peeples, who previously directed “Like Arrows.”
The movie’s first hour is as gripping as any Kendrick Brothers film.
“Lifemark” is a faith-based movie that promotes adoption, affirms biblical truth and leaves you wanting to get more involved in the adoption movement. It’s a film every church can embrace. Visit LifemarkMovie.com.
More this month
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters / Love + Local (Pureflix) — A father comes to grips with his now-grown daughter getting married and moving to Mexico, based on the book by Meg Meeker. It has the uplifting feel of a Hallmark movie. In “Love+Local” two morning DJs of a popular Christian radio station cope with change under a new producer. It’s a mockumentary series starring Dave Coulier and Emily Pendergast.
Both titles are hilarious, solid additions to the lineup of Pureflix, a faith-based service that has grown its library since being sold to Sony in 2020.
Family Camp (Home Video) — Two polar-opposite families are forced to share a yurt at a Christian summer camp. The film stars the faith-based comedy duo best-known as the Skit Guys — Tommy Woodard and Eddie James — who play the respective fathers. It’s one of the best family-friendly comedies in recent years and includes solid messages about parenting, forgiveness, priorities and love.
David (Sight-Sound.TV) — The incredible story of King David is retold in this musical extravaganza, which combines live-action, special effects and tunes inspired by the Psalms to tell a Broadway-style biblical story at Sight & Sound’s theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “David” will be broadcast live at Sight-Sound.TV Sept. 2, with encore showings on the 3rd and 4th. If you’ve never watched a Sight & Sound production, you’re missing out.
Rise (Disney+) — A young boy overcomes poverty growing up in Athens, Greece, to become one of the best basketball players in NBA history. “Rise” is the incredible story of Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who sold trinkets to tourists on the Athens streets and didn’t discover basketball until they were teens (Giannis was 13); both now play in the NBA. The film is faith-centric — we often see them and their parents pray — and family-friendly.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This monthly series, “5 Family-Friendly Things,” spotlights five family-friendly entertainment choices on film, DVD, streaming or television. Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than 15 years. He is the husband to Julie and father of four.