Miracle in East Texas parents guide

Miracle in East Texas Parent Guide

It's plodding, repetitive, and has a juvenile script. At least the movie's clean.

Overall C

Theaters: It's the middle of the Great Depression and two conmen are running an oil drilling scam by wooing and swindling vulnerable widows.

Release date October 29, 2023

Violence A
Sexual Content B+
Profanity B+
Substance Use C

Why is Miracle in East Texas rated PG? The MPAA rated Miracle in East Texas PG for mild thematic elements and some suggestive material

Run Time: 100 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Horatio Daedalus Boyd (Kevin Sorbo), also known as Doc Boyd or by his real name, Heinrich Bumstead, sheds identities as rapidly as he abandons women. Having been chased off several properties at gunpoint, the serial bigamist and snake oil salesman has taken up a new scam with D.H. Everett (John Ratzenberger), a wildcatter known in the oil biz as Dry Hole Everett. Despite a lifetime in the oilfields, Everett has a perverse ability to not find oil, but Boyd has found a way to turn this failure into a lucrative swindle.

Traveling through the Depression-ravaged towns of Oklahoma and Texas, Boyd poses as a geologist and informs a female landowner that her property is certain to contain oil reserves. The two men then woo and flatter every widow in the community, persuading them to invest in the new oil venture. After the exploratory well turns up dry, the men skip town with their ill-gotten gains, looking for greener pastures. Then something happens that neither man had ever prepared for – they strike a gusher. Will their good luck prove to be their undoing?

I enjoy a good con movie, but Miracle in East Texas isn’t one. The premise is entertaining but it is undermined by a juvenile script, B-rate acting, and terrible pacing and editing. The film plods along at a glacial pace while padding its runtime with needless repetition. There are about 70 minutes’ worth of story in this 100-minute film and every unnecessary minute feels like ten. All that extra time gives you lots of opportunity to consider the flaws in the script, particularly an excruciatingly bad courtroom scene, an awkward frame narrative, and the unbelievable sight of a congregation drilling a well in the middle of their church.

As strange as some of the plot elements are, the weirdest part of the film is the prologue. Before the movie itself begins, audiences are treated to a monologue from director and lead actor, Kevin Sorbo. The speech is earnest but peculiar. After asserting his praiseworthy desire to produce family-friendly entertainment, Sorbo goes on to laud oil as a gift from God and to describe his film as a piece of Americana that illustrates the values that built the country. (The irony of having a piece of Americana filmed in Canada seems to escape Mr. Sorbo.)

Kevin Sorbo is a Christian filmmaker and he clearly intends for his faith and American values to come together in this film. At this he fails, because I don’t see much of either. The behaviors that are most prominent in this film are dishonesty, criminality, greed, emotional manipulation, gullibility, ignorance, and the insincere use of religion to deceive others. Christian viewers will note that Boyd has a “come to Jesus” moment and will appreciate the movie’s message of forgiveness and redemption. I personally find Boyd’s repentance shallow, but your opinion may differ, depending on your religious convictions.

With a story this unsatisfying, it’s a mercy that negative content is minor. There’s a brief scene of drunkenness involving Everett and some moments of peril involving firearms. The real surprise is mild sexual innuendo, but that will sail over the heads of young viewers. The movie is by and large family-friendly – but it would take a miracle to make it good.

Directed by Kevin Sorbo. Starring Kevin Sorbo, John Ratzenberger, Sam Sorbo, Louis Gossett Jr.. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release October 29, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Miracle in East Texas

Miracle in East Texas
Rating & Content Info

Why is Miracle in East Texas rated PG? Miracle in East Texas is rated PG by the MPAA for mild thematic elements and some suggestive material

Violence:   Irate people fire guns at a conman but he is not harmed. There’s brief mention of hanging.
Sexual Content: There are a few moments of mild sexual innuendo. Men and women are seen embracing and a man is kissed on the cheek.
Profanity: The script contains a smattering of terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   Adults are briefly seen drinking alcohol. A main character admits to being inebriated.

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Miracle in East Texas Parents' Guide

For information about the discovery of the Kilgore oil field and the contributions of the real life “Dad” Joiner and “Doc” Lloyd, you can read the links below:

Texas Monthly: Let’s Make a Deal

Texas Highways: There Will Be Oil


Home Video

Related home video titles:

For a far, far better con movie, watch The Sting. Starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, this clever film has become a classic of the genre. Other films in the genre include Catch Me If You Can, Ocean’s Eleven, and Now You See Me.