Movie: ‘What If…‘
In Theaters: Aug. 20, 2010
Director: Dallas Jenkins
Runtime: 100 min.
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic elements
There being a dearth of new family movies this weekend, I ended up seeing ‘What If…,” released in theaters a couple of weeks ago. You could probably classify it as a Christian movie, but even if that’s not your thing, the story offers a compelling look at those small decisions that can change the course of our lives forever.
It’s directed by Dallas Jenkins and executive produced by his dad, Jerry B. Jenkins, writer of the Gil Thorp comic strip, former editor of Moody Magazine, and author of more than 100 books. Jenkins has written and/or produced several movies since 2000, including ‘Hometown Legend.’
So you might be thinking, ok, another Christian movie in a string of recent Christian movies that includes ‘Letters to God’ and ‘To Save a Life.’ But there’s a great market for these films, and let’s face it, it’s nice to see a movie with an uplifting message that you can actually take your whole family to see. ‘What If…’ also features some veteran actors who’ve been around the Hollywood block once or twice.
Kevin Sorbo is probably best-known for his TV series ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,’ or perhaps as Capt. Dylan Hunt on Gene Roddenberry’s ‘Andromeda.’ Here, he plays Ben Walker, a man who walked away from both his girlfriend Wendy (Kristy Swanson) and a call to the ministry. The story begins in a bus station, with Ben telling Wendy that this business opportunity “will only be for a few months” and then they’ll be back together again.
Well, Ben never went back to the ministry or Wendy. Fifteen years later, he’s living in the city with a high-paying investment career, a trophy wife, and more than a few enemies. But when a car mishap lands him in a parallel universe, he wonders if he made the wrong move all those years ago.
In this parallel universe, Ben is married to Wendy, he’s the father of two kids (Toni Trucks and Taylor Groothuis), and he’s also the pastor of a small church in a small town. Sorbo seems a little out of place in this role, but by the end of the film, you can see him as a pastor and family man.
The real coup here was landing John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven on ‘Cheers‘) as a mechanic/angel who gently helps Ben figure out what he’s really supposed to be doing with his life. Ratzenberger makes a great angel – gruff with a heart of gold.
You don’t really know how this movie is going to end, and of course, I won’t tell you. But again, even if you tend to shy away from Christian movies, this one is uplifting and inspiring, and reminds us that one simple decision can change the course of our whole life. It’s a mix of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (Ben even mentions that at one point) and ‘Blink,’ the Malcolm Gladwell book that focuses on our “adaptive unconscious” to see the truth in a split second.
Check out the ‘What If…” official site and blog, a fascinating look into the making of the film. And see the movie if you have a chance. You can even contact the filmmakers and request that it be brought to your town. You can also follow the film on Twitter.
Images: Christiano Film Group