I Can Only Imagine parents guide

I Can Only Imagine Parent Guide

From the ashes of this bitter life comes some of the sweetest lyrics of the soul.

Overall A

Bart Millard (played by J. Michael Finley) reveals the story behind the hit single I Can Only Imagine by the Christian band MercyMe. His journey of faith, forgiveness and healing may be as inspirational as the song.

Release date March 16, 2018

Violence B-
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

Why is I Can Only Imagine rated PG? The MPAA rated I Can Only Imagine PG for thematic elements including some violence.

Run Time: 110 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

I Can Only Imagine became a hit for the Christian band MercyMe in 2003. While much of the public is familiar with Bart Millard‘s song, not as many are aware of the inspiration behind it. This movie, which bares the same title, attempts to change that.

Telling the story in flashbacks, we meet young Bart (Brody Rose) and learn of his life in a dysfunctional family where he is abandoned by his mother (Tanya Clarke), and regularly beaten by his father (Denis Quaid). We watch as he meets the love of his life (Taegen Burns/Madeline Carroll) at Bible Camp. And follow his teenaged aspirations of becoming a football star.

His already difficult existence gets worse when an injury on the gridiron shatters both his leg and his future plans. Unable to participate in sports, Bart (now played by J. Michael Finley) ends up in a music class, where a dedicated teacher (Priscilla C. Shirer) notices his talent. Although he doesn’t realize it, this is literally his lucky break. When hostilities continue to escalate between the teen and his dad, chasing a music career provides Bart with a convenient escape route from the abuse.

Yet pursuing fame and fortune in an old school bus touring across the country brings its own disappointments. When a respected mentor (Trace Adkins) suggests he face his past demons, Bart reluctantly returns to his father’s house.

But the man who greets him there is not the same as the one he feared and fled from. Instead he is a broken creature, desperate to make amends for past mistakes. Now Bart faces the question of whether or not he is Christian enough to forgive the prodigal parent.

Despite the seriousness of the situations, the moviemakers use restrain with their portrayals. It is assumed, but never shown, that Bart’s father is an alcoholic. Foul language is never heard, even in the most heated of confrontations. Some of the domestic violence is depicted, like physical fights, objects being thrown at others, and a cuff to the back of the head that results in a bloody injury. These scenes, plus some medical emergencies and verbal bullying, may be too frightening for little viewers.

Yet from the ashes of this bitter life comes some of the sweetest lyrics of the soul. Full of messages of hope, grace, and redemption, this small budget production shares the rich rewards of family love and self-sacrifice.

Directed by Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin. Starring J. Michael Finley, Brody Rose, Dennis Quaid. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release March 16, 2018. Updated

I Can Only Imagine
Rating & Content Info

Why is I Can Only Imagine rated PG? I Can Only Imagine is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements including some violence.

- Portrayals of non-graphic violence.
- Theme of domestic violence.
- Infrequent portrayals of hand-to-hand and weapons violence in a child abuse context, with little blood and some detail.
- Four scenes of violence depicting weapons, physical assault and/or injury.
- Bullying.
- Scenes that may frighten children.

Sexual Content:
- Infrequent embracing and kissing.

- Occasional use of mild profanity.

Alcohol / Drug Use:
- Substance abuse.

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News About "I Can Only Imagine"

If you have heard the song I Can Only Imagine by the Christian band MercyMe? If it has inspired you, than you will be interested to know what inspired the lead singer Bart Millard to write the lyrics.

J. Michael Finley stars as Bart Millard in this movie based on his story. It recounts the singers tragic childhood (where Millard is played by Brody Rose) with his abusive father (Denis Quaid), and the feelings he had in the aftermath of his dad's passing. It focuses on the power of faith and forgiveness to heal wounds and family relationships.

After suffering an injury during a high school football game, Millard's hopes of becoming a professional athlete came to an end. Millard then took a choir class, little knowing it would change the course of his life. During his first year in college, Millard's father succumbed to cancer. Feeling lost again, he accepted an offer from the pastor of his youth group to help with their worship band. Although he began as a tech assistant, working with the video and audio systems, the experience and the friendships he made along the way eventually led him to pursue a career in music. Forming the Christian band, MercyMe lead to great success.

The song, I Can Only Imagine was written in only ten minutes, but contemplated for about ten years. Millard says the original recording brings a melancholy feel to the question of what it would be like to die and meet Jesus. For the movie, the song was re-recoreded, and this time if has more of a celebratory sound.

Listen to Millard and MercyMe sing the hit single, I Can Only Imagine.

Bart Millard has also written two books about his life experiences: one for youth and adults, and another for young children.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

The directors of this film, brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin, are also the creative team behind the faith based movies, October Baby and Moms, Night Out.