Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Breakthrough – Heartfelt Story That is Easy to Connect to, No Matter Your Religion

Breakthrough is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction. From producer DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven) and adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds) from Joyce Smith’s own book, BREAKTHROUGH is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Despite not being religious and usually not enjoying movies like these, I like this movie. Every once in a while, everyone needs an emotional yet inspirational story and this is it.” Siaki S. adds, “Breakthrough is a phenomenal, inspiring film. I was intrigued by this film because of the powerful message it shares.” Zoe C. wraps it up with, “This is a very heartfelt movie that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. Based on a true story with a strong religious theme, Breakthrough is a perfect movie to enjoy with your family. It doesn’t matter what your religion is: it is very easy to connect with this story and to feel very emotional. I love the acting and all the positive messages it contains.” See their full reviews and interviews with cast and crew below.

Breakthrough
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Despite not being religious and usually not enjoying movies like these, I like this movie. Every once in a while, everyone needs an emotional yet inspirational story and this is it.

This movie is based on the true story of Joyce Smith and her son, John, after he falls through a frozen lake and ends up dead for about an hour. Yet, when his mother prays for him to be revived, he suddenly gains a pulse. The rest of the movie is about Joyce hoping for John to fully recover.

It is important to mention how this is a movie about faith in God and the love of a mother. I am not religious, so I must bring up the question: “Do you need to be religious to enjoy this movie?” I feel that you can enjoy this movie, even if you don’t believe in Christianity. The religious aspect is very prominent, however it’s not as forced as I originally predicted it would be. Plus, having strong faith in God actually makes sense in the context of this movie.

Chrissy Metz (Joyce Smith) stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s BREAKTHROUGH. Photo Credit: Allen Fraser.

In a movie like this, arguably the most important aspect is the acting. While the whole cast is pretty great, the main star, hands down, is Chrissy Metz as Joyce. Most of the emotion comes from her stellar acting. The scene where she prays over John’s body really hit me hard. Of course I can’t gloss over everyone else in this amazing cast. A particular favorite is Topher Grace as Pastor Jason Noble. He really helps lighten the mood when the movie needs some relief.

This movie is based on a true story and, since John Smith is still alive, one can guess how this film ends. Despite that, many moments in this movie are genuinely suspenseful. When John falls through the ice, it actually startled me, despite the fact that I knew what was about to happen. The actual climax is filmed in a very interesting way which is filled with tension.  

My one problem with the film is that it feels as if the dad doesn’t have much to do. He is present in his son’s life and he cares about him, yet it feels like the movie mostly forgets he exists. This movie definitely is more focused on the mom, yet that felt weird to me.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend for ages 10 to 18. It comes in theaters nationwide on April 17, 2019 so look for it.

Breakthrough
By Siaki S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Breakthrough is a phenomenal, inspiring film. I was intrigued by this film because of the powerful message it shares.

The film was inspired by a true story that hit the nation with unwavering faith, hope and prayer. John Smith, who the film is about, is played by Marcel Ruiz who grew up in the film industry and both parents are award-winning directors. John Smith, a courageous teen, is Latino who struggled with his identity and learned that love conquers all. John Smith is passionate about basketball and hopes to one day become a professional basketball player. His passion helped him endure this incident to the very end. Due to excruciating events that occur in this film, I realized and appreciate the miracles that I am able to witness and enjoy within my own life.

The film is directed by Roxanne Dawson, a theater arts major from University of California Berkeley who is also known as an actress (Baywatch, Star Trek). Breakthrough was written by Grant Nieporte a screen writer (Seven Pounds).

What I like most about this film is the friendship of family and friends who become family in a tight knit community. They join forces and focus on one major life threatening situation. This film portrays unity, love and compassion.

Another thing that I really enjoyed is when one rescuer, who didn’t believe in God, learned that there actually is a God and, from that moment on, it changes his life in many ways. The rescuer later received other signs that led him to believe in God.

John Smith’s mother is played by Chrissy Metz (This Is Us, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser) who portrays her in the most believable way. She delivers a powerful message about faith and perseverance. Chrissy builds a relationship with Pastor Jason-Noble (Topher Grace, That ‘70s Show). In Breakthrough, Pastor Jason-Noble is intricately involved in helping Chrissy deal with the situation and is an inspiration and light to many.

I give this film a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 and as well as adults. Breakthrough comes out in theaters April 17, 2019 so make sure to look out for this inspirational, educational and motivational film at a theater near you.

Breakthrough
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This is a very heartfelt movie that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. Based on a true story with a strong religious theme, Breakthrough is a perfect movie to enjoy with your family. It doesn’t matter what your religion is: it is very easy to connect with this story and to feel very emotional. I love the acting and all the positive messages it contains.

This is the story of a 14-year-old boy, John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) who suffers a terrible accident: when playing in a frozen lake, he drowns and is rescued by a fireman about 20 minutes later. He miraculously survives but is in serious condition. His mom never surrenders hope and prays with fervor to keep him alive.

I like the underwater scenes: I love how they look and how they are filmed. In the movie poster we see the main character under the water, and, despite knowing he will fall, I still jumped from my seat when the ice broke. I think it is amazing how a simple story can make such an impact on the audience.

The story is well narrated. There’s a song at the beginning of the film that could have been shorter, although it is good. It feels like a music video trapped in a film that is not a musical, but when the movie resumes, the narrative keeps you interested.

Chrissy Metz, who plays John’s mother, portrays the character so well, it made me cry; you feel the connection with her suffering, and it is very powerful. She confronts doctors, and, although John is in a medically-induced coma, she keeps her faith alive. She doesn’t get along with Pastora Jason Noble (Topher Grace) because she thinks he is too cool to be spiritual, but she bonds with this man who is very supportive and caring. John, of course, spends a good portion of the movie dormant, but he makes you pray for him because you want to see him alive.

The message of this film is never give up and always have faith. Another message is even if you don’t fully like someone it doesn’t mean you can’t set aside your differences and work together. I also think is important for young audiences to understand that accidents happen, and we need to be careful.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Breakthrough opens nationwide on April 17, 2019

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