There’s great, uplifting films to stream at home! I’m Jonathan Decker, family therapist and film critic, and I’m here to help you find the good stuff. For more curated picks and discussion guides for movies, follow me on Facebook.
Cinema Therapy is a YouTube channel begun by two Latter-day Saints, one a therapist (me) and one a filmmaker (Alan Seawright). We explore uplifting themes and meaningful lessons in popular films. This week we explore how the Harry Potter series demonstrates a healthy, Gospel-compatible approach to coping with bullies. Watch our new episode above and rent/buy the films here.
LIVING SCRIPTURES (SIGN UP HERE)
Saints and Soldiers: The Void. The finalfilm in director Ryan Little’s faith-focused World War II trilogy (each one is a standalone, not connected to the others) shines a light on overcoming prejudice among Allied troops. Stream it on Living Scriptures or rent/buy it here.
Hamilton just debuted on Disney Plus. Powerful drama, impressive music, and a fresh-yet-respectful approach to American history. Heads up: the language of the Broadway play has been toned down here to earn a PG-13 rating, but it’s still PG-13 for mature themes and occasional language. Stream it on Disney Plus. Buy the “clean” version of the soundtrack here.
Fiddler on the Roof. One of my favorite films. A Jewish family in Russia deals with social upheaval and persecution while growing in faith in God and love for each other. Stream it on Netflix or rent/buy it here.
West Side Story- I really am on a musical kick today. Fans of Hamilton will want to check out this classic spin on Romeo and Juliet, with a boy and a girl from different races and opposing gangs falling in love. The music is wonderful. Stream it on Hulu or rent/buy it here.
Megamind. Despicable Me got the sequels, but for my money the best supervillain-goes-good film is Megamind. Truly hilarious. Watch on Amazon Prime, free with a membership or rent or buy it here.
TABERNACLE CHOIR MOVIE TRIBUTES
New YouTube channel combines Tabernacle Choir music and popular movies. Here, the choir sings “This is the Christ” set to footage from The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.
The Magnificent Seven. One of the all-time great Westerns, with an all-star cast of gunslingers protecting a village from ruthless outlaws. The remake is fine, but this original is outstanding.
CLEARPLAY (FILTERED FOR CONTENT)
Pursuit of Happyness, the powerhouse true story of a down-and-out single father who hustles and works his way into his dream career. Will Smith is excellent here. New to Clearplay, which edits for language and other content, based on filters that you decide upon. You can rent or buy the film from Amazon and apply Clearplay filters.
Nutty Professor, the more wholesome 60’s version starring Jerry Lewis, not the raunchy 90’s version. A nerdy scientist transforms himself into a confident, smooth-talking ladies-magnet. Stream it on Crackle or rent/buy it here.
The Bible According to Hollywood. For religious film buffs like me, this documentary takes us behind The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Prince of Egypt, and more. Stream it on TubiTV or rent/buy it here.
VUDU MOVIES (FREE)
Where the Red Fern Grows. According to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s biography, the novel made his entire family cry. The film is a solid adaptation. Watch it free on Vudu or rent/buy on Amazon.
RENT OR BUY
Frequency. A cop in 1999 (Jim Caviezel) is able to talk to his late father (Dennis Quaid) in 1969 via ham radio. Together they team up across time to prevent the murder of their mother/wife. Some language, but what an uplifting family thriller. Rent or buy it here.
FROM THE STREAMING SAINT
BYU’s Divine Comedy: Freshman Nights. From 2005-2007 I performed with the popular BYU comedy group. This parody of Grease finds a young missionary longing for the girl he left behind at the Y, to the tune of “Summer Nights.”
GET MORE PICKS TO STREAM WITH YOUR FAMILY
For a thorough exploration of what apostles and prophets have said about watching uplifting media, along with hundreds of reviews and Gospel discussion guides, pick up a copy of my book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families!
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist, actor, author, and film critic. He is known for starring in The KJZZ Movie Show and the Utah action-comedy CTU: Provo, performing with BYU’s Divine Comedy, and as the author of 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families.