"Standing for Values Bigger Than Oneself"
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM is a wonderful, heartwarming TV movie from the Hallmark Channel, airing September 20, 2013. Based on the novel by the same name, the movie takes place in the summer of 1963.
The Watson family is a close-knit African American family in Flint, Michigan. Daniel and Wilona Watson have three children, the 15-year-old troublemaker Bryon, the smart 11-year-old Kenny, and the lovable 8-year-old sister Joetta. Seen through the eyes of timid Kenny, something in the house needs to change. Bryon’s troublemaking is leading him to steal and randomly set things on fire. He also disrespects his parents constantly.
Daniel and Wilona decide to take the children on a vacation down to Birmingham, Alabama to visit Wilona’s mother and show the children their southern roots; and, maybe even straighten out Bryon’s behavior in the process. All the while, tensions in Birmingham over civil rights begin to escalate.
The Watsons start their road trip. As they get deeper into the south, the rough country culture becomes more apparent to the sheltered Michigan kids. Upon arriving at their grandmother’s house, the children are unfamiliar and don’t know how to handle the racial segregation, young Kenny and Joetta especially. As they settle into their new home for the summer, the three children begin to learn more about civil rights and what it means to stand for something bigger than oneself. Hostility increases and a tragedy will challenge the Watsons’ faith, courage and fears.
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM is a wonderfully positive TV movie. It’s written from the perspective of 11-year-old Kenny, who’s oblivious to what’s really happening in the real world. As a result, the story often focuses on how Kenny learns to cope with his new struggles and experiences. The movie successfully takes an exciting, yet bleak aspect of history and gives it an uplifting, yet earnest tone. The believable sets transport the viewers straight back into the 1960s. All the characters have a unique sense to them, especially the kind, angelic Joetta, who brings the movie innate warmth.
The television movie is slow getting started with too much set up and too long a wait for the jeopardy and action. Even so, the opening third is so well directed that it entertains.
The movie exhibits a Christian worldview throughout. The Watsons are a churchgoing family, shown in multiple scenes, who promote positive old-fashioned values. The Watsons are also a strong, loving family. Bryon starts off as a troublemaker, but learns to fight for family and to stand for higher ideals. Kenny also learns the importance of overcoming fear and growing up in a world with injustice and pain. Overall, THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM is an inspirational, entertaining, and educational movie for families. A light caution is advised due to some of the subject matter.
(CC, BBB, V, N, M) Strong Christian, Biblical, moral worldview includes a churchgoing family, children learn values like courage, overcoming fear, standing for others, and moral ideals, and a character is seen reading her Bible; no foul language; light violence includes some footage of Civil Right protests where police use fire hoses to knock people over, a young boy almost drowns, and an explosion is heard and people scramble trying to help, but nothing graphic is shown, though people die; no sexual content, though the grandmother has a man who lives with her; upper male nudity, including young boy swims in his underwear; no alcohol; no smoking or drug use; and, a boy steals, but is reprimanded and young kids experience racism for the first time.
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM is a wonderful, heartwarming TV movie from the Hallmark Channel. Set in 1963, The Watson family is a close-knit African American family in Flint, Michigan. Daniel and Wilona Watson have three children, 15-year-old troublemaker Bryon, smart 11-year-old Kenny and lovable 8-year-old daughter Joetta. They take a trip down to Alabama so their children can learn more about their southern roots. During their visit, tensions in Birmingham over forced segregation begin to escalate.
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM exhibits a strong Christian worldview. The Watsons are a churchgoing family. This is shown in multiple scenes. Also, the Watsons promote positive, old-fashioned values. Bryon starts off as a troublemaker, but learns to fight for family and to stand up for important ideals. Kenny also learns the importance of overcoming fear and growing up in a world with injustice and pain. A light caution is advised due to some of the subject matter. Overall, however, THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM is an inspirational, entertaining, educational movie for families. It presents an uplifting, but earnest, tone to a tumultuous time.