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Sutradara

Rich Christiano
Penulis Skenario
Dave Christiano, Rich Christiano
Pemain
Gavin MacLeod, Jansen Panettiere, Robert
Guillaume, Frankie Ryan Manriquez
DISTRIBUTOR:
Five & Two Pictures
Five & Two Pictures is an independent Christian film production
company founded in 2002 by Dave Christiano and Rich Christiano. They have
produced several major Christian films; Time Changer, Unidentified, Me & You,
Us, Forever, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and A Matter of Faith.
Rich Christiano (born October 2, 1956) is an American filmmaker, who has
directed, produced and written many Christian films. He owns Christiano Film
Group, co-founded Five & Two Pictures and founded ChristianMovies.com in
1997.[2] He is also the brother ofDave Christiano.

The Secret Of Jonathan Sperry


kisah Dustin, Albert, dan Mark
dua belas tahun dalam liburan
di tahun 1970. Film ini release
desember 2009 di Amerika.

bercerita tentang
yang masih berumur
musim panas mereka
pada tanggal 18

Judul film ini adalah The Secret of Jonathan Sperry sebuah film yang
menceritakan kehidupan seseorang Pria tua (Duda) bernama Jonathan Sperry yang
menghidupi dirinya dengan iman kepada Yesus, kasih yang di bagikan kepada anakanak bernama Dustin, Mark, dan Albert membuat mereka bertumbuh menjadi
orang-orang yang berintegritas dan menjadi berkat di masa hidupnya. Hal yang
menakjubkan lagi adalah interpretasi yang Ia lakukan terhadap tetangganya Mr.
Barnes. Jonathan Sperry menyuruh Dustin untuk selalu memotong rumput di
halaman rumah Mr. Barnes dan Sperry membayar Dustin untuk pekerjaan itu, satu
hal yang selalu di katakan Sperry kepada Dustin adalah jangan mengatakan kepada
Mr. Barnes bahwa Ia (Sperry) menyuruh dia (Dustin) untuk memotong rumput di

halaman rumahnya. Mr. Barnes awalnya menolak atas tindakan Dustin akan tetapi
karena dia bersikeras untuk mengerjakannya ia membiarkan dengan terpaksa Dustin
memotong rumput di halaman rumahnya.
Akhir cerita, Sperry di panggil Tuhan

Mr.Burnes dulunya tidak mengenal Tuhan mulai percaya kepada Tuhan Yesus
melalui kehidupan kasih yang ia lihat dalam diri Dustin dan Ia datang kerumah
Dustin untuk menyuruhnya memotong rumput dirumahnya lagi dan membayarnya.

CBN.com - Set in the summer of 1970, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry tells the
story of Dustin, who has gotten his first crush on a girl named Tanya, and his friends.
Nick, the class bully, is harassing Dustin and his friends. One day an old neighbor,
Jonathan Sperry, asks Dustin to mow his lawn. When hes finished, he gives Dustin
lemonade, an extra dollar and starts witnessing to him about Jesus Christ.
Soon, not only Dustin but also his friends are coming to Mr. Sperrys house for a
Bible study. Theyre continually harassed, however, whenever they pass by Nick.
They want revenge, but Mr. Sperry tells them to love their neighbor, so the question
is,will love work to transform the hard-hearted, mean spirited Nick or will he continue
to harass Dustin and his friends?
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is a very sweet, kind-hearted evangelistic movie.
The children come to Christ, and the movie wants to bring audiences to Christ. This
is one of the best movies that the Christiano Brothers have done. Gavin McLeod
(The Love Boat) does a brilliant job as Jonathan Sperry. The camerawork is
immaculate, and the music is well suited to the story.
Regrettably, however, the movie is slow. Much of the dialogue is static. The weak
dialogue happens when people keep affirming each other, such as: Dustin, do you
want some cake? Yes, I want some cake, thank you. Did you like the cake? Yes,
I liked the cake. Would you like some more cake? Whatever people say in life is
not in what they should say in the movies. Different personalities should be at odds
with one another, and all the dialogue should move the story forward. Dialogue in

conflict should tell the story of the movie.


Another major problem is a lack of jeopardy. A movie has to have something at stake
that the hero will fight for and the villain will kill for. There are moments of jeopardy in
the movie, but they are quickly dropped and forgotten.
Despite these flaws, however, this movie is surprisingly winsome and endearing. The
characters are well defined, and the audience can empathize with them. And, there
are moments in the movie that are truly moving. Best of all, this is a movie the whole
family can enjoy together.
More entertainment articles on CBN.com

Hal yang sangat menyentuh saya adalah, saat menit akhir dari film ini Ibu Dustin
cerita kepada Dustin apa sebenarnya terjadi, Jonathan Sperry dulunya mempunyai
istri yang meninggal karena tabrakan. Pelakunya adalah Mr. Burnes.
Hal yang mengugah hati saya lainnya adalah, saat orang di lingkungan tempat
Jonathan tinggal mulai ada orang-orang yang menerima Tuhan Yesus sebagai Tuhan
dan Juru Selamat mereka.
Terakhir, Mark menjadi seorang professor biologi di Kampus Kristen dan pembicara
pada pertemuan tentang Alkitab dan ciptaan, Albert menjadi seorang penyiar radio
Kristen di timur laut, dan Ia bekerja di depertemen pemuda di Gerejanya. Dustin
sendiri menjadi Pendeta dan mengajarkan Kebenaran Firman Tuhan kepada semua
orang.

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry: A Movie Review


I was off work today, so I decided to run by the movie theater and check out the latest
Evangelical movie making the rounds, the title of which is The Secrets of Jonathan
Sperry. Since it's fresh on my mind, let me offer a few thoughts on it.

Set in small town America in 1970, the movie is based on a true story, and revolves
around a young boy named Dustin, his two best friends, and an elderly man named
Jonathan Sperry. Sperry takes it upon himself to strike up a friendship with Dustin
and his two friends, and starts a Bible study with them, inspiring the boys to give the
Gospel to others, which leads to more boys joining the Bible study. Much of the film
surrounds Dustin's fascination with a young girl and his desire to date her. Then
there is the town bully, who Sperry himself leads to Christ. Lastly, there is a crotchety
old neighbor, whose role in the tale remains largely mysterious until the last few
minutes of the film. For any who are planning on seeing the film, I will leave the rest
of the plot for you to discover for yourself. Having said that, let me recommend that
you don't go see this film.

In short, this is the worst film I have seen in a very long time. "Harsh words," you
might say. An understandable response. I have heard from others who thought this
was a fantastic film, which inspired me to go see it. I hate to question their taste, but
I'm afraid it's unavoidable. My intention is neither to offend nor to stand in the way
of something that might be used for the good of the kingdom of God. I just think it's
time that Evangelical Christians stop supporting bad art made in the name of Christ.

And this film is bad art, if anything. Granted, there are redeeming qualities here. For
one thing, the Gospel is present in the movie. One can hardly complain there. And

the moral lessons of Scripture that are given are, of course, wonderful. But just as the
some of the best of Evangelicalism is on display here, so is some of the worst.

First of all, the script is terrible. The dialogue was so bad it hurt (I mean that quite
literally - it was painful to listen to). A disproportionate part of the film is spent
listening to the three boys prattle on about Dustin's love interest, a young girl who
was a classmate and who worked at a local diner that about half the film was shot in.
And prattling it was. Certainly, we're talking about young boys here. And anyone can
sound pretty annoying when fascination over the opposite sex kicks in. But this was
incomparable. First they are in the diner, and Dustin is whining over the girl. Then
they are walking across a bridge, and Dustin is whining over the girl. Then Dustin is
calling his friends on the phone and whining over the girl. Then back to the diner...
sheer misery. A couple of brief scenes would have been enough to get the point
across. But the moping going on was beyond anything resembling masculinity, even
young, immature masculinity. The movie may have been clean, but if I was the father
of a boy, the last thing I would want to do would be to expose him to such garbage.

Almost all of the dialogue of the film was of this nature. Even the lessons which
Sperry taught to the boys, lessons based in Scripture, were told in such a mundane
fashion that they hardly resembled the depth one finds in Scripture itself. Was this a
reflection of how the actual Jonathan Sperry spoke to the boys? I have no clue, of
course. But I highly doubt that the boys (now adult men) who actually learned from

Sperry remember his lessons word for word, leaving hope that the real Jonathan
Sperry was a far more interesting teacher. He was evidently a man of great character;
that doesn't say anything about his teaching, however. All in all, the basic outline of
the story had great potential. But the script itself was nowhere near to doing justice
to the ideas behind it.

Then there was the acting. The film featured two seasoned actors in Gavin MacLeod
and Robert Guillaume. I didn't even recognize MacLeod, and only discovered it was
him in watching the credits. I remember watching him on "The Love Boat" as a child,
and he fit his role there. But any other time I remember seeing him act I found him
less than interesting, and there was no exception here. Robert Guillaume was his
typical splendid self, and was the only bright spot acting-wise in the film. And yet
even he seemed hindered by the terrible script, though this was probably helped
along by some bad directing as well.

The rest of the cast was fairly painful to watch. One can only expect so much from
child actors, I suppose. But while watching them was torture itself, the other actors
faired little better. The best word I can come up with is "wooden", though even that is
insufficient. Words can't really express how bad both the body language and line
delivery were.

There was throughout the film a prevailing sense of sentimentalism, something

which is common whenever Evangelicals attempt to make art. It is interesting that


Evangelicals as a whole tend to carry with them the feeling that ever since the 1960's,
the pagans have taken over the culture, and morality has gone down the tubes. And
in a minor sense, I suppose that's true. But a more accurate account of it recognizes
that Evangelicals actually retreated from society, a retreat that started long before the
'60's. And as nature abhors a vacuum, the pagans simply rushed in to fill in the void.
This can be attributed to a number of things, though a large measure of blame, I
would say, lies at the feet of Dispensationalism and its self-fulfilling prophecies of the
downturn of society. So while it is a fact that small town America was a more moral
place in 1970, it wasn't idyllic. Children go astray because their parents go astray. The
rebellion of the sixties took place because Christianity had come to be defined as
external conformity to certain behaviors deemed "Christian", and the Gospel had
been replaced by the fear of man. So those who would return to mid-twentieth
century America would simply be setting us up for another cultural revolution as
ungodly and tumultuous as the one we have been through in the past thirty years.
Not something to be desired, I dare say.

Then there is the whole purpose of the film. As is customary in Evangelical art, it was
clear that the goal that the film makers had in mind was not to make good art, but
rather to use the film merely as a vehicle through which to spread the Gospel. Once
again, one can hardly criticize the desire to see people saved. But as inevitably
happens whenever Evangelicals take such a route, the art suffers at the expense of

sharing the Gospel. Part of this is due to the unbiblical and hokey way we tend to
express the Gospel in the Evangelical church. As much as my Evangelical friends
react against this, the Gospel is not "asking Jesus into your heart". It also is not
"having a personal relationship with Jesus". These are sentimentalistic attempts at
expressing the Gospel, and one will search in vain to find anything resembling these
phrases in Scripture. According to Scripture, the Gospel is repenting of one's sins and
trusting in Christ for salvation. There are other ways this is expressed, but none of
them come even close to the above two phrases. Does this mean that I don't have a
personal relationship with Jesus? Of course I do. But the phrase reflects a romantic
and sentimentalistic approach that comes not out of Scripture, but out of Western
culture, and as such is at odds with Scripture. Why we get so hung up on these
Evangelical catch phrases and choose them over Scripture's way of speaking is
bizarre to me. It suggests that we look to find our comfort not in Christ, but in the
Evangelical subculture.

We seem to think that all God cares about is what we deem to be the substance of the
Gospel. We think that form is irrelevant. But nothing is so unbiblical as that. The
same God that said, "repent and be saved" spent pages and pages of His word
detailing specifications for Noah's ark, the Tabernacle, the Temple, the ordination of
the priesthood, the rituals of cleansing, the genealogies, the numbering of the tribes
of Israel, and so on. God loves detail, and He has great concern for form and order.
The fact that we pay little to such things is a demonstration that we have fallen far

short of thinking with the mind of Christ.

And this is not limited to some segmented sphere we call "religious life". As God
created all the world, and did so with deliberate form and order, so He continues to
be concerned with these things throughout all creation. This includes the meals we
eat, the order of our homes, the clothes we wear, and, yes, the art we create. Beyond
this, why can't Christians just make good movies? Where does Scripture say that the
only art we can make has to be for spreading the Gospel? It doesn't. God didn't have
to slap a Bible verse on every tree in the forest, because His glory spoke through it as
His handiwork. Even so should we imitate Him in our art. Paintings don't become
Christian because they have a Bible verse underneath them. If it's a good painting, it
will reflect God's glory.

What's sad is that pagans recognize this importance of form, while the church does
not. As a side note, this in itself, I would suggest, has more to do with driving youth
away from the church than we realize. It isn't because we aren't following the secular
culture in our modes of worship. It's because we aren't following Scripture in even
thinking carefully about our modes of worship.

So when we present the Gospel, the same is true, whether it be in a movie, or some
other context. Truth and Goodness aren't sufficient. Our presentation must be
beautiful as well, not by the ungodly culture's standards of beauty, but of God's.

Here, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry fails miserably.

And yet, with all of the Evangelical church's abandonment of secular culture, we turn
and pander after it as if we are its servants. The presence of the two aforementioned
secular actors in the film itself is an indicator of this. But then there is the actor who
plays Dustin. While he has made a number of appearances on TV and as the voice of
cartoon characters, he wasn't chosen, I would suggest, for his great resume. And I
hope he wasn't chosen for his acting skills. His name, in fact, is Jansen Panettiere,
and I think it should be obvious why he was chosen. He is the younger brother of
actress Hayden Panettiere, who has appeared in numerous TV and movie roles, and
is probably best known for her lead role on the TV show "Heroes". Evangelicals are
so obsessed by pagan Hollywood that all it will take to get them to go see a Christian
film is a recognizable name like that. Quick quiz: how many professing believers
spend more time reading People Magazine than they do reading their Bibles? I'm
scared to even guess the answer. It's one thing to appreciate some of the products of
Hollywood - an appropriate thing, so far as they are allowable by Scripture's
standards. It's entirely another matter that we think the only way we can get
Christians to watch Christian movies is by using Hollywood stars and their younger
siblings.

Some would say that this is an attempt to draw unbelievers in to see the Christian
film, hear the Gospel, and hopefully be saved. This is a good desire. But isn't the

definition of insanity to repeat an action and expect different results? This never
happens on any broad scale. Sure, one might be able to name the occasional person
who comes to one of these films and trusts in Christ. But where are the masses of
people who are supposed to be saved this way? The silence is deafening. I suppose it
would be a true miracle for an unbeliever to get past the bad art and hear and believe
the gospel (though salvation itself is always a miracle, no matter the circumstances).
But the fact that this is rare at best should make us reassess this approach, and
reconsider how we allot the resources over which God has made us stewards.

So if I haven't made it clear by now, I didn't like this film. I don't question the
motives of anyone involved in the making of it. I'm sure the intention was the
salvation of souls and the glory of God. And by that intention alone, God will be
glorified. The question here is rather whether or not there are better ways of
glorifying God, and I would suggest there are.

And if you've dying to see a movie this weekend, rent WALL-E, or wait a few days for
UP to come out on DVD. I can guarantee that they won't be a waste of money.

posted by Kerry Lewis | 10:29 PM

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is a 2008 Christian film, released to theaters on


September 18, 2009. It was directed by Rich Christiano, and the majority of the film

was filmed in Holley, New York,[2] beginning August 18, 2007.[3] Its world premier was
at theMerrimack Valley Christian Film Festival.[4][5] Gavin MacLeod, who also starred
in The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Showplays the lead role in the film.[6]
Contents
[hide]

1Plot

2Cast

3Soundtrack

4Release
4.1Reception

5References

6External links
Plot[edit]

Dustin (Jansen Panettiere), Albert (Frankie Ryan Manriquez) and Mark (Allen
Isaacson) are 12-year-old friends looking forward to Summer fun in 1970. Dustin
likes a girl named Tanya (Bailey Garno), and so he wants to ask her on a date, but
he is nervous because he has never asked anyone out before. Dustin's main
obstacle is the town bully, Nick (Taylor Boggan), who also likes Tanya. When Dustin
mows the lawn of 75-year-old Jonathan Sperry (Gavin MacLeod[7]), a man he has
seen at church, the two become friends.

Mr. Sperry begins a Bible study with Dustin and his friends, and encourages them to
be kind to Nick. Sperry also pays Dustin to mow the lawn of a stubborn, elderly
neighbor, Mr. Barnes (Robert Guillaume), although Dustin is told not to let Mr. Barnes
know the benefactor of this kindness. Throughout the summer, many other boys in
the neighborhood get involved in the Bible study, including Nick, who is remorseful
and turns from his bullying ways after a couple of encounters with Mr. Sperry.
Meanwhile, Dustin finally gets the courage to tell Tanya how much he likes her, but
instead of asking her to be his girlfriend, he suggests she start reading the Bible.

Then one day, Dustin rides his bicycle by Mr. Sperrys house and discovers a crowd
has gathered there and Mr. Sperry has died. After the funeral, Mr. Barnes visits
Dustin to thank him for mowing his lawn, and to tell him he figured out Mr. Sperry
was his motivation. Mr. Barnes tearfully calls Mr. Sperry a great example of a
Christian man. After this visit, Dustins mother reveals the secret background
between Mr. Sperry and Mr. Barnes. Mr. Sperrys wife had died four years earlier in a
car accident caused by Mr. Barnes who was drunk. Inspired by Mr. Sperrys kindness
after such heartbreak, Dustin decides to continue the Bible study with the
neighborhood boys, repeating one of Mr. Sperrys first lessons with Dustin and his
two friends.

Rich Christiano . Due to the success of Fireproof, there is great momentum right now
for Christian films.
Five & Two Pictures is happy to present "The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry," a new film
coming to theaters Sept 18th that is getting great reviews and will be an outreach ministry to
your community.
It's the story of a 75 year old man, Jonathan Sperry (played by Gavin MacLeod) living in
1970,
who starts mentoring three 12 year old boys. We believe this inspiring, heartfelt movie can
motivate all who see it. This film has something for everyone from ages 8 to 80.
We have a very unique marketing plan to help us get the word out. We are working with
churches and groups across the nation and having them sponsor the film locally in their
theaters. If churches will help us do some local grass roots marketing, the film could play in
theaters for weeks. Also,
each sponsor will participate in the revenue from the theater they sponsor which makes this a
win-win for everyone. Currently, we have about 100 churches/groups already on board!
First, we encourage you to watch the trailer on the official website at www.sperrymovie.com.

Earnest, simply-stated, and unabashedly advocating a Christian belief system,THE


SECRETS OF JONATHAN SPERRY is a movie with purpose. Relying on a very thin
story, heartfelt but amateurish performances by the young actors, and an
unquestioning point of view, the film leaves no space for personal insights or
thoughtful discussion of different attitudes or religions. The film is set in an idealized
community that seems to have no relationship with the world as it was in 1970:
everyone is clean-cut (even the bully), financially comfortable, safe, male-driven, and
with one notable exception, white and Christian.

The filmmakers' intent is so strong that though they state early that the film is fiction,
they end with a crawl describing what happened to the not-real characters in later

years, all of whom found their calling in promoting Christian values. Probably best
appreciated by those with a firmly Christian perspective.

This review of The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry was written by


Renee Schonfeld

Does the decrease in religious identity signify that religion is losing its importance for
Americans? There was a substantial drop in the percentage of Americans who said
religion was "very important" in their lives between the 1960s and the 1970s -- from
70% in 1965 to 52% by 1978 -- but in recent decades, this "very important"
percentage has remained relatively steady. The overall figure today -- 56% -- is
slightly higher than it was 31 years ago.

"The percentage of Americans who in theory could celebrate Christmas this week as
a specific component of their religious faith is down significantly from where it was 50
or 60 years ago."

There has been a slight tendency over the years for Americans to shift from a "fairly
important" category to the "not very important" category in answer to this religious
importance question. The percentage saying religion is not very important in their
lives was routinely in the 12% to 15% range from 1978 through the early years of this
decade. In more recent years, this percentage has drifted slightly upward, and is at
19% this year.

Church Membership

As would be expected, given the drop in the percentage of Americans who have a
religious identity, there has been a similar drop in the percentage of Americans who
say they are a member of a church or synagogue.

Gallup first asked this church membership question in 1937, at which time 73% of
Americans said they were a member of a religious congregation. That percentage
stayed above 70% in occasional Gallup surveys conducted through 1976, and
remained in the high 60% range for the most part through the beginning of this
decade. In recent years, the church membership percentage has been drifting down,
reaching as low as 61% in Gallup's averages for 2007 and 2008. This year's average
is 63%.

Is Religion Old-Fashioned and Out of Date?

Gallup has asked Americans over the years whether "religion can answer all or most
of today's problems" or whether it "is largely old-fashioned and out of date." The
majority of Americans over the last 52 years have chosen the first of these
responses.

The biggest change in attitudes on this measure came between Gallup's survey in
1957 -- a very religious decade, based on Gallup indicators -- and the data collected
in more recent decades.

The years from 1974 to the present have been marked by significant fluctuations in
the answer to this question. Generally speaking, the percentage of Americans saying
that religion can answer all or most of today's problems has been in a range between
the mid-50s and the mid-60s. The recent decade high point was 68% in a survey
conducted 10 years ago, in December 1999. The recent low point was 53% in a
survey conducted last December. In two surveys conducted this year, the
percentages saying that religion can answer all or most of today's problems were
60% and 57%.

A considerable percentage of Americans over the years, when confronted by the two
choices offered by this question, have replied that they can't choose or have another
opinion. This year, for example, 13% and 15% of Americans have given one of these
answers in Gallup's two surveys that included this question.

Bottom Line

The United States remains a dominantly Christian nation. Almost 8 out of 10


Americans identify with a Christian religion. And the vast majority of those who
identify with any religion identify with one that is Christian.

Yet, the percentage of Americans who in theory could celebrate Christmas this week
as a specific component of their religious faith is down significantly from where it was
50 or 60 years ago. The most important reason for this shift is straightforward: there
has been an increasing percentage of Americans who say they have no specific
religious identity.

The fact that fewer Americans say they have a religious identity does not necessarily
mean there has been a decrease in overall religiosity in America. It is possible that
some proportion of those who don't identify with a specific religion are still personally
or spiritually religious.

Although a little more than one out of five Americans do not identify with a Christian
faith, the Christmas season has ramifications for a broader segment of society. A

Gallup survey conducted last year showed that 93% of all American adults said they
celebrated Christmas.

Feeling like a cross between Stand by Me,


Leave It To Beaver, and a 1960s Sunday
School film strip lesson (yes, I'm dating
myself... but that's probably
appropriate), The Secrets of Jonathan
Sperry is yet another preaching-to-thechoir, family-friendly program for the
faithful... but then again, it isn't, either.
Synopsis
The major selling point of this
evangelistically ambitious yet earnestly
nostalgic film is Gavin McLeod, of Lou
Grant and Love Boat fame, in the central
role as Mr. Sperry. The story centers on a
trio of young, late-1960s small-town pals

who chase girls, pizza, and sodas but find


something a little more worthwhile one
summer thanks to the nurturing mentorship
of the titular character.
While McLeod is good enough here for
fans to feel good about having sat down to
watch the film, the performance that really
makes the film work (as a film) is Jansen
Panettiere (Heroes Hayden Panettiere's
little brother) as Dustin, the fatherless
lawnmower pusher who's dying to ask out
a local honey on his first twelve-year-old
date. When Mr. Sperry recruits him to start
caring for his lawn, however, Dustin's
summer takes a detour into Bible study
and selfless service.
Performance and Story Rings True

Yes, that's right. Instead of going in search


of a dead body, Dustin and friends attend
Bible studies at Mr. Sperry's house. Instead
of confronting bullies with pistols, they
learn to accept enemies as friends.
Instead of the generically good-natured
values that Beaver learned, Dustin gets
instructed through Scripture and odd
game-like parables. And in spite of the
somewhat cheesy setting for the story, it all
actually plays like a real film.
It's possible, though, that I'm biased toward
Panettiere's performance as Dustin
because he looks and acts much as I did
around his age...in much the same time
period. So it's not at all a stretch for me to
buy into Dustin's world.

In fact, there's so much about Dustin's


experience with Mr. Sperry which rings true
that I have to admit, as much as many
critics might not care to, that
filmmakers Rich and Dave Christiano (and
executive producer Paul Crouch, Jr.) have
not made some ersatz nostalgic reflection
on a rural-suburban America that never
was. No, they have captured a one-time
reality pretty accuratelyif not
compellingly so, from a narrative
standpoint.
Feels Like Sunday School but Still
Beneficial
The stated goal of the film is to present a
fictional account which captures the
inspiration which older men can be for
those in their formative years. And while

my own mentor, in my figuratively


fatherless period, was no retiree like
Jonathan Sperry, there's no mistaking that
a great number of boys could certainly
benefit from the lessons that the Sperrys of
the world impart. Certainly, for Dustin, the
summer yields a great deal of learning
about spiritual and material priorities.
As sound as the film's details are, however,
and as appealing as some of the central
performances (and themes) may be,
Secrets still has too much of the Sunday
School film strip feeltoo preachy, and too
staged. And yet I imagine that this, too, is
part of the intentional design, given that the
Christianos were brought up in roughly the
same period and environment as I.

As a matter of full disclosure, Past the


Popcorn has a publication and hosting
agreement with ChristianCinema.com, who
has a close association with the Christiano
brothers. So, even though I've never
spoken with Rich or Davenor seen any
of their films beforemy editor has; and
through her I've heard much about the
company's history and legacy, and about
the projects they've had in the pipeline.
A Film By Guys About Guys For Guys
Still, I don't think my very loose affiliation
with the filmmakers (nor my recent, very
extended interview with Producer Chad
Gundersen) has resulted in a skewed,
unjustifiably positive impression of the film.
When it comes to recent, period-set films
by Christian filmmakers that present a

distinctly Christian world view, I greatly


favor Jeb Stuart's Blood Done Sign My
Nameor even Mark Frieburger's The
Dog Days of Summer, which has much
more in common with Secrets than Blood,
yet feels much more artful and polished.
This may be no film to write home about,
as the saying goes, and I chafe at the
notion of art being "an evangelistic tool."
But if this review makes you at all
interested in seeing the film, I imagine
you'll be quite pleased with what you find.
Unless you're female. Do be aware that
this is film about guys made by guys for
guys, based on their recollections of being
younger guys. Women, or their
sensibilities, don't significantly factor into

the narrative whatsoever. When Mr.


Sperry starts hosting Bible studies in home
with a dozen or so boys, the film may even
start reminding you of a Boy Scout promo
or something creepier, which says more
about our contemporary values, in light of
both recent religious and secular sexual
abuse scandals, than the film itself.
Rating
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is rated
PG for mild thematic elements. The
thematic material here is nothing more
serious than dating, routine death, and
bullying are presented... though, of course,
there's plenty of talk about Jesus and hell!
Know your kidsbut this is pretty mild.
Courtesy of a national publicist, Greg

screened a promotional DVD of The


Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.
Greg Wright is Managing Editor of
both Past the Popcorn and Hollywood
Jesus. An ordained pastor, Greg is the
author of Tolkien In Perspective: Sifting the
Gold from the Glitter (2003) and Peter
Jackson in Perspective: The Power Behind
Cinemas The Lord of the Rings (2004). A
widely-known lecturer on Tolkien, Lewis,
film, and fantasy, Greg resides in the
Seattle area with his precious wife Jenn
and their two cats, Grynne and Bearrett.
(http://www.christiancinema.com/catalog/ar
ticle_info.php?articles_id=7299)