When I recently interviewed David Nixon, the director of “Letters to God,” he told me he wanted to make movies with a message. His newest film certainly has a message, a message about hope and faith that will appeal to its core demographic and even though there are some flaws, I hope people outside that core demographic also see this quality film about a small boy who inspires his friends and neighbors with his faith.
The movie revolves around Tyler, a young boy fighting cancer who communicates with God through letters. With the mailman on leave, a new mailman starts working in Tyler’s neighborhood and has to decide what to do with these letters that are simply addressed to God. As Tyler’s family is forced to deal with his illness, the mailman is forced to deal with his past mistakes as he begins a relationship with Tyler’s family. Throughout, the characters look to God for hope as they watch Tyler deal with a horrible disease.
The movie, which was inspired by a true story, has a strong message and a clear goal. This is an unabashedly Christian film about people finding faith and hope in Christ. Tyler inspires many members of his family and his community to develop stronger relationships with God, even as those members watch Tyler deal with cancer.
In addition to its strong focus on religion, there’s also a solid story with great characters. For instance, Ralph Waite from “The Waltons” stars as Cornelius Perryfield, the grandfather of Tyler’s best friend, Sam. He’s known by some in the neighborhood as a grump who complains when his mail’s not delivered at the right time. However, he is also a wonderful grandfather to Sam and willing to dress up like a fictional character to talk to Tyler about the role that God is having Tyler play in life.
This likable character greatly adds to the film. In addition, there are others, including Tyler’s brother (who feels left out with everybody focusing on his sick brother), Tyler’s grandmother (who is often there for her family) and Tyler’s best friend Sam (who gets into a fight with a person who makes jokes about Tyler). These strong, likable supporting characters all add to the film.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the compelling characters who brought it to life. The movie does have some faults though, including goofy scenes such as those with the neighborhood dog. Movies with mailmen must find it necessary to include scenes of dogs chasing them down and making them look like a fool. Editing those out would have been an improvement. Also, some critics are likely to complain about the preachines, which I can appreciate. Some of the religious scenes do come across as a little forced and unreal but don’t diminish the overall quality of this sentimental film.
“Letters to God” is a strong religious and family film that can be enjoyed by many, including those who might not share the faith. If you like a good story and characters “Letters to God” is a package worth opening.