Movie fans, rejoice. The insipid days of summer films are finally over, and there’s five (yes, five) movies worth seeing this month (yeah, we didn’t think it was possible either). While some are perfect for the whole family, we’ve also got options for date night or a Saturday matinee with your best pal – either way, we can virtually guarantee you’ll have a good time watching something a little more thoughtful than your average superhero flick.
The Contender: Seven Days in Utopia, starring Robert Duvall, Melissa Leo and Lucas Black
The One-Two Punch: Based on a best-selling book by author/sports psychologist Dr. David Cook, Seven Days in Utopia is an uplifting story of what happens when life takes you down a far different path than you ever expected.
The Premise: After not making quite the impression he’d hoped to on the pro golf circuit, a young golfer accidentally ends up in Utopia, Texas, where he meets an eccentric rancher with some unexpectedly helpful life advice.
The Verdict: If you’re not a fan of golf, don’t worry, Seven Days in Utopia isn’t really about golf at all. And for anyone who’s been through a situation that didn’t go according to plan (and really, who hasn’t?), Seven Days in Utopia is an entertaining reminder that God’s plans are always better than what we could possibly dream up.
The Contender: Courageous, starring Alex Kendrick, Kevin Downes, Ben Davies and Ken Bevel
The One-Two Punch: The latest film from Sherwood Pictures, Courageous is the story of four policemen with a singular calling, namely to serve and protect.
The Premise: When tragedy strikes, the officers are forced to re-prioritize and become the fathers they were always intended to be.
The Verdict: Redemption is the key ingredient in this faith-based film. Bring your tissues. And don't miss the gmc World Premiere Special: The Making of Courageous, Friday at 8 pm et.
The Contender: Contagion
The One-Two Punch: Director Steven Soderbergh directs in all-star cast in a compelling story that’ll have you reaching for the closest anti-bacterial wipe.
The Premise: A mysterious disease threatens to destroy the world as we know it. That is, unless, doctors and the Center for Disease Control can intervene – and fast.
The Verdict: For me, Contagion was scarier than any horror movie, and that’s because it felt so true to life. Not only are there several great terrific performances (particularly from Matt Damon and Kate Winslet), but the compelling subject matter provides plenty of opportunities for intriguing post-movie conversation. And yes, you probably won’t want to eat from all communal bowls of nuts any time soon.
The Contender: Warrior
The One-Two Punch: Not only does it feature some fantastic performances from unconventional leading men (Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy), but there’s a redemptive thread throughout that underscores the importance of family.
The Premise: Through mixed martial arts, two brothers and their father learn how to be a family again.
The Verdict: While a bit too violent for younger children, older teens and their parents will find plenty to like in this story of a family that’s brought back together through rather unusual circumstances, namely a good, old-fashioned battle of strength and determination.
The Contender: Dolphin Tale
The One-Two Punch: Based on the true story of Winter, a brave dolphin who learns to swim again after losing her tail, Dolphin Tale is a heartwarming story featuring a talented cast including Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and some standout kids in their first leading roles.
The Premise: A shy young boy finds unexpected friendship and purpose when he finds Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap.
The Verdict: Animals, particularly cute ones like Winter, make great cinematic protagonists, but Dolphin Tale is so much better (think: non-cheesy) than your average family-friendly movie. Packed with heart, humor and inspiring moments, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy.
The Contender: Moneyball
The One-Two Punch: It’s not always easy taking Brad Pitt seriously as an actor, but he really shines in this true story of a man who takes on the system and – well, of course, I won’t give anything away and ruin it for you.
The Premise: Based on a true story, the manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, reinvents his team on a very tight budget by outsmarting the wealthier franchises and recruiting players who have raw (but still untested) talent.
The Verdict: A classic David and Goliath-type set-up really works well, thanks to the unlikely partnership of Pitt and Jonah Hill and a story that’ll have you rooting for the underdogs in a big way.
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