Like Arrows: The Art of Parenting (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Charlie and Alice began their parenting journey sooner than they expected, but they quickly adapted to their new life as a family, even as their family continued to grow.  They encountered many different struggles and challenges as their family dynamic changed and expanded, but they always did their best to rely on wisdom from God in their parenting.  However, when they reached a breaking point one day, their wise friends invited them to a church conference that helped them fix all of their mistakes and begin building a lasting legacy!

 

Production Quality (2 points)

On the surface, Like Arrows has a decent enough production, which is no doubt due to the consultation of the Kendrick Brothers.  This is evident in good camera work, crisp video quality, and mostly fine sets, locations, and props.  Unfortunately, audio quality is quite up to par as many lines are difficult to discern; however, the soundtrack is mostly fine.  While most scenes are well-lit, there are some head-scratching moments of poor lighting with little to no explanation.  Further, it goes without saying that the major detractor of this production is the atrocious editing, which can mostly be blamed on the ridiculous amount of content that is shoved into this film.  On the whole, this production is fine and passable, but the issues with Like Arrows go much deeper.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This ‘movie’ was originally a collection of skit clips to accompany FamilyLife’s new curriculum called The Art of Parenting.  It’s painfully obvious that this choppy and rough presentation of random ideas was borne out of these beginnings.  What begins as a semi-interesting storyline quickly descends into a roller coaster of content that takes the viewer from one high point to the next at breakneck pace.  The audience is dropped into a moment in time to look at one spoon-fed issue that needs to be highlighted, and just as soon as the sequence began, it comes to a predictable conclusion as the audience is prepared to zoom forward in time to another ‘important’ tidbit from FamilyLife’s outdated worldview that needs to be included.  This wild ride wreaks havoc on any hope of character development as dialogue is stilted and programmed based on what the ministry needed to push to whoever may watch this mess.  This section is only saved from nothingness by a semi-effective final scene that has absolutely no build-up or justification due to the fact that nobody knows who the characters even are at that point even as more characters are constantly introduced.  Also, it goes without saying that the FamilyLife product placements are vomit-inducing.  Essentially, Kevin Peeples was saddled with the impossible task of trying to force a collection of worldview-heavy curriculum skits to be a continuous and understandable screenplay.  No one should have been expected to pull this off since, based on the content provided, the task was a losing one to begin with.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

The acting of this ‘film’ is very uneven.  Alan Powell has had better performances, and a lot of the cast members seem lost and unsupported by coaching.  However, it’s not like they had any good lines to work with in the first place.  Also, the sheet number of cast members required for the constantly changing ages (with the exception of the parents) causes a lot of confusion and extra work for directing.  Once the parent cast members are finally changed (there is a point when they seem like the same age as their adult children) and once other professional cast members are brought on (Alex Kendrick, Garry Nation, etc.), the acting actually improves for the final sequence.  However, it’s simply not enough to save this film from itself.

Conclusion

Space does not permit a full discussion on the myriad issues actually present in this film, including the mindless and patronizing treatment of women (what do you expect?), the trippy ‘futuristic’ elements in the final sequence, and the general lack of regard for understanding the struggles of real people.  This film claims to show real people doing real things, but it actually demonstrates just how far out of touch FamilyLife really is.  Did I mention how horrible their product placements are?  Implying that a family is totally fixed by going to your conference and buying your merchandise is the height of arrogance and is extremely tone-deaf.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this film will make any lasting impact.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

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15 thoughts on “Like Arrows: The Art of Parenting (Movie Review)

  1. Jack, do you remember when Jesus talked the Luke 7:31 passage about who appreciated forgiveness more, the person who had a lot to forgive or the one who had little to forgive? The same idea works for someone who doesn’t have a problem vs. someone who does. If you have a great family with no problems, than this film won’t mean much of anything to you and your family. But our world has plenty of families with nothing but problems. This film is to give them hope, and a future. It dealt with a child born early. A dad that’s thinking more of himself than his son. A mother who is doing wrong exactly what her mother did wrong. Parents who care more about money and comfort than their children. Adopted children. Estranged children. It showed why family devotions (and that included just the Bible– the ultimate product placement 🙂 ) are so important. Admitting faults and admitting lack of knowledge to your children. Why prayer is important. What gratitude looks like. I’m sure I left some out. It wasn’t about box-office; did you notice the only two days the film was out were the day before and the day after the national day of prayer? If you don’t know anyone with any of those problems, than this film is not for you. But if the film and the free helps they are offering to people and Churches helps 5% of the 10,000,000 families in this country with a real problem, than that would be 500,000 families. I think that would thrill the producers. It would thrill me.

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    • Well i sure hope that’s what people are getting out of this movie, (if anyone was actually to watch it). I am glad you enjoyed it though:).

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  2. “This is a very egotistical mentality, and in my opinion, Like Arrows really doesn’t offer any concrete solutions for parenting beyond attend a conference and buy our merchandise.”

    I don’t remember anything about a conference, and I’m sure you would be too cool to attend one anyway. The Bibles’ solutions are egotistical. God says He can fix our problems. God’s claims are egotistical. But God is God. That is the theme of the movie; I take it at face value, and you can leave it at your own peril. “I can only imagine” what would happen if God really did something for people.

    Buy merchandise? Did you stay for the end? It’s claims to be free with no strings attached. Lot’s of faith based companies do things for free. Why are people so afraid about free? Salvation is free to me, but it cost God plenty. I’ve been running a ‘totally free, even the popcorn’ theater since 2001. It’s free. We take no offerings up, ever. We pay lots for films, but it cost the patrons nothing. We have had something like 20k people since 2001. We have paid far more than $30k to show all those films. We don’t preach at the people, ever. We pray at the end. That’s it. People come and go as they please. Yes, I’ve had lots of people in my face asking what’s in it for me. I just can’t imagine asking someone to pay for having me minister to them. It’s called unmerited favor. Grace is the technical term.

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    • This is to the moderator; can you please delete the number of people who have attended our theater and the amount of money, or the entire post. It looks a lot like pride; we don’t want to be there. Sorry!

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  3. You did realize this film is the bait for the FREE curriculum, right? The full screenings had a lot about that; it’s free and they want to help, and they believe they can. Don’t worry, there will be money in it somewhere. I’m sure this is the only the short answer, and there will be more. In the film, the short answer was to have devotional time with your family and the family goal is to make Christ the center of everything, not success or comfort. Dad changed. Mom changed. You did catch the younger son learning to make meals for those in need, etc. Was is Polyanna like? Well, not talking to your oldest child for 30+ years sounds more realistic than Polyanna. The film gives hope and a goal. I’m sure lots of Churches will try to use the material. If it helps some people, than I would say it’s a success. I really shouldn’t use Polyanna in the cultural sense. The book, if you ever read it, is quite more Christian than anything Disney.

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    • Yes, the film is absolutely about pushing the curriculum, and that’s exactly my point…in my opinion, it suggests that families can be fixed by reading this curriculum. This is a very egotistical mentality, and in my opinion, Like Arrows really doesn’t offer any concrete solutions for parenting beyond attend a conference and buy our merchandise. However, each person is entitled to share their own opinion, and I hope somebody is helped by this film in some way.

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  4. Being a critic isn’t hard; you just ignore what the purpose was of whatever you are critiquing. Case in point: Like Arrows. The producers of this film had a plan and a purpose for the film. It was never intended to be an escape pulpy ‘Christian Romance’ of the mindless sort that populate the Hallmark Channel; films filled with overdressed characters doing totally predictable things. No, this was to engage viewers that have had or have worked with people that have had problems raising a family. It tried to cover a broad spectrum of issues over a long period of time. That isn’t an easy proposition; How the West Was Won takes nearly 3 hours to do it, and of course cannot cover very many characters in depth. This isn’t a criticism of that film; it just shows that sometimes the plan and purpose does not match the expectation of some of the audience. For most people in the intended audience of this film, it is very engaging. To be frank; it’s the best thing that the Kendrik brothers have done since Fireproof. At first that seems like a strange statement; no, it’s accurate. War Room is a fine 2-hour film, but it would have been a really great 95-minute film. They added far too much of the jump-rope teams, and T.C. showing off his physique just as fillers because the script was really only good for 95-minutes. Don’t get me wrong; that’s the plan for filling time which was popular for the old musicals. Today, producers know that every minute should count. Especially in Christian film arena, people make films that are just simply longer than they need to be to tell the story. The Kendrik brothers know that too; why they slipped in War Room probably has to do with other factors. They know that 2 hours is an absolute maximum. They know that to cover all the situations they had planned to put in the film that they could not dive deep; the scenes have to cover the point and move on. I’m glad the changed actors as they ‘aged’ so often; this film isn’t supposed to be about the actors; it’s about how to fix a family in a number of common problems. This one isn’t evangelism either. Think of it as a family epic; lives are made up of memorable moments. How do you cover a lifetime story in 2-hours? You only touch on important points. They manage to engage the audience at each of these moments. That’s impressive. Sure, they could have turned this into a pure emotion film that tells a story by grabbing at heart strings like I Can Only Imagine, or they could in fact do some, dare I say it, preaching to the choir. They chose the better route. I’m glad they did. It wasn’t for the general audience; why pretend it is? I far prefer someone telling me that there are specifics that I can learn to do deal with the problem I have than just to say that in the by-and-by my problems will be gone. Stereotypes? Sure. Please don’t try to pretend we don’t all have them. There is no temptation that is not common to man. That verse still applies today. We are not as unique as we like to think we are. The reviewer obviously prefers escape. This film fit the plan and purpose intended by the producers perfectly. Whether you realize it or not, this film will have the greatest and most lasting impact of any film made in the last year. Before you guess that I just haven’t watched much over that period, let me explain that I have previewed over 75 films in that period for our theater. It’s in the top 10 Christian films ever made, and probably the only non-evangelistic film in that list of 10.

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    • Thank you for sharing your opinion. I agree that a lifetime story cannot be covered in two hours or less, so the question still remains: does a lifetime story even need to be attempted with less than two hours to work with? This detail aside, the fundamental problem we found with Like Arrows is that it does not connect with real people and appears to exist in an alternate universe created by the narrow worldview of FamilyLife. In contrast, I Can Only Imagine did an excellent job at connecting with the struggles of real people, as can be evidenced by its massive box office success. However, each person is definitely entitled to their own opinions 🙂

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      • Perhaps you did a pre-screening; I did not this time; I viewed it with a normal audience. I’ve rarely seen an audience as engaged; as predictable as it was, people were waiting on the next line in each scene. That’s fairly unusual. Engagement means they are connecting. It’s not the most engaging movie I’ve ever seen; not hardly. But it does mean that people who are looking for help are here and it’s an opportunity to get answers. People will remember where they got help. It’s a sad thing that so many Churches are only willing to give empathy, without giving direction. That’s why I said it’s the most memorable. You remember those who help you.

        BTW, this was never intended to be a big box-office film. You must realize that. Some of the most original and, dare I say it, best films I’ve ever seen never made it to the box office. The most creative films are the short ones. Check out Butterfly Circus some time. You can find it free online and it’s worth the 15 minutes to watch it. Please ALWAYS thing intended audience. Who is this film trying to reach? Why? That’s the plan and purpose.

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        • I definitely agree that people are searching for help with parenting right now; this is a very important topic. People want and need help with parenting. This is a very good point to make. Thus, it leads to another question: what is the advice Like Arrows has to offer parents? Based on the message of Like Arrows, how does someone parent better?

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    • While you may have a few good points about movies, i disagree with your aspects on I Can Only Imagine, that movie is in the top 10 best christian movies not Like Arrows. Like Arrows isn’t terrible but………….it just seemed like they didn’t really try.

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      • I can only imagine is a good film, and yes, I’m showing it. It’s still an emotional film; a heartstrings film. Even more so after they did some cuts. It’s a feel good film. It gives hope. What does that film actually tell you to do? Keep trying?
        Forgive? What is the Christian message? What would you call the theme of I Can Only Imagine?

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      • I agree, I Can Only Imagine has a perfectly constructed plot, excellent casting, the best acting coaching, above-par production, and an imaginative script. In short, it puts this movie to shame in every way possible.

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