JOHNNY Shines with God’s Grace and Faithfulness
Starring: Jerry Phillips, Mel Fair,
Musetta Vander, Aubyn Cole,
Audience: Older children to adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 81 minutes
Distributor: Pure Flix Entertainment
Director: D. David Morin
Executive Producer: Jeff Peterson
Producer: Michael Scott, Tom Saab
Writer: D. David Morin, Alan Smithee
Address Comments To:Byron Jones, Managing Partner
Pure Flix Entertainment, LLC
8040 East Morgan Trail, Suite 25
Scotsdale, AZ 85258
Phone: (480) 991-2258
Johnny, played by newcomer Jerry Phillips, is a 10-year-old leukemia patient and ward of the state whose unwavering faith and trust in God are an inspiration to everyone he meets. The movie opens with Johnny awakening from a recurring dream, one in which he runs and smiles as healthy young boys do, but Johnny’s day-to-day life is nothing like his dream. Instead, his tired body is constantly subjected to the scrutiny and evaluation of countless doctors, not to mention grueling chemotherapy. What’s worse, he doesn’t have a family to support and strengthen him through his exhausting sickness.
On the way to his next doctor’s appointment, Johnny’s caseworker, Glenda, asks the boy if he’s worried. Without missing a beat, Johnny responds with a Proverb, “An anxious heart weighs a man down.” Throughout the movie, the young hero readily quotes Proverbs as well as other pertinent scriptures, to the wonderment of those around him.
At the appointment, Dr. Miller, played respectably by Lee Majors, informs Johnny he’s referring him to Dr. Carter, an oncologist with substantial problems of his own. Dr. Carter (Mel Fair) lost his son, Robby, two years ago in a tragic car accident. His wife, Julia (Musetta Vander), who was driving the vehicle in which her son died, has been emotionally absent ever since and continues to blame herself for his death.
Told by Dr. Miller that Johnny is “specialer” than other patients, Dr. Carter quickly learns from Glenda that Johnny considers himself on a mission from God and believes that, one day, he will be given a family.
After spending a delightful day outdoors with Johnny, Dr. Carter decides to make Johnny a part of his family, despite his wife’s antagonism and disapproval. While Johnny quickly befriends his new adopted sister, Kayla (Aubyn Cole), Julia can hardly tolerate being in the boy’s presence, infuriated because she feels he’s taking the place of her late son, Robby.
In a tender scene between Kayla and Johnny, Kayla holds Robby’s Bible and explains that her brother accepted Jesus as His Savior at Vacation Bible School before he died. Johnny then leads her in a sinner’s prayer of her own after explaining that we are not saved by doing good works, but by confessing our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord.
Despite being given the news he doesn’t have much longer to live, the courageous young boy insists that Dr. Carter attend a Christian men’s retreat. Dr. Carter reluctantly promises to do so and leaves his adopted son in the care of his troubled wife.
With her husband gone and the children enjoying a day at the beach, Julia calls Glenda to come for Johnny. Seeing her daughter’s tear-filled eyes as she watches Johnny walk away, Julia is overcome with remorse.
When she receives the news that Johnny has taken a turn for the worst, Julia rushes to be at his side and immediately arranges for him to be brought home, “where [he] belongs.”
This beautiful, touching movie ends on a bittersweet note that wonderfully demonstrates Johnny’s mission being unequivocally accomplished. He has fought the good fight and kept the faith. The overarching theme of God’s sovereignty in the midst of brokenness, and even death, resonates deeply from beginning to end and triumphantly proclaims His mercy and faithfulness.
The film is steeped in the biblical truths of God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, and grace. Johnny is a shining example of how the Lord provides us with the strength to endure the challenges, the disappointments, the sorrows of life. His interaction with a non-believing family demonstrates that each one of us, no matter our age or occupation, can be mighty ambassadors for Christ. There is a serious theme of death in the movie, so caution is advised for younger children.