Ordinary Angels Parent Guide
A touching film about the power of kindness and good neighborliness, this is a fine choice for teens and their parents.
Parent Movie Review
The 1993 death of his wife leaves Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson) overwhelmed with grief and facing the prospect of yet another terrible loss. His five-year-old daughter, Michelle (Emily Mitchell), suffers from biliary atresia, a rare, fatal condition. The only treatment is a liver transplant but wait times are lengthy and medical costs are far beyond Ed’s limited means.
The family’s plight touches the hearts of the surrounding community and has a powerful effect on an unlikely woman. Sharon (Hilary Swank) is a hairdresser who’s in denial about her alcoholism but feels a need to help Michelle and her family. Is it possible for a flawed, ordinary person to deliver a miracle?
Ordinary Angels is not what I expected. Regular readers of this website will be aware of my frustration with the often subpar quality and preachy tone of Christian films. Those are not problems here. In fact, Ordinary Angels isn’t really a “Christian” film. Yes, there are brief discussions about Ed’s shaky faith and people are seen in church but this production doesn’t try to proselytize Christianity. Instead, it’s a movie about simple goodness; about kindness, generosity, and good neighborliness. This is a story about the miracles that can be achieved when people work together for the benefit of those who are weak and vulnerable.
The script has another message, and that’s a searing indictment of the American healthcare system. For unexplained reasons, Ed doesn’t have health insurance and there is no public hospital in the area. Not only is the widower burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt for his late wife; he also needs to somehow find hundreds of thousands of dollars to save the life of his child. That Sharon is able to rally the community to help is impressive – that she needs to do so is profoundly depressing.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the script is its courage in exploring the weaknesses of its main characters. It would be easy to make Sharon a stereotypically noble rescuer, but instead we see her addiction, her denial, her sometimes overbearing interference, and the complicated motivations that underlie her compulsion to help. Ed, too, is more than just a passive recipient of aid. He’s grief-stricken, wounded, prickly, hard-working, and determined to be independent in meeting his family’s impossible needs. These characters feel as real as the people upon whom they are based, and that achievement comes down to the acting talents of Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson.
Parents considering this film for family viewing will be relieved by the paucity of violence, sexual content, and profanity. There is a significant amount of alcohol consumption, including scenes of intoxication, but this is treated as a serious problem and is not glamorized. The story’s inevitable focus on death, illness, and stress render it unsuitable for children, who might find it disturbing, but Ordinary Angels is appropriate for parents and teens to watch together. In fact, this extraordinary tale of compassion and kindness, of the miracles performed by broken souls, might be just what they need to see.
Directed by Jon Gunn. Starring Alan Ritchson, Hilary Swank, Amy Acker. Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release February 23, 2024. Updated February 20, 2024
Watch the trailer for Ordinary Angels
Rating & Content Info
Why is Ordinary Angels rated PG? Ordinary Angels is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic content, brief bloody images and smoking.
Violence: A man sits at the hospital bedside of his dying wife. There are non-detailed scenes of medical procedures. A child coughs up blood.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: There is a term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character downs shots in a bar, becoming so intoxicated that she falls over. She consumes more alcohol with breakfast the next day. A main character drinks alcohol to cope with emotional stress. The theme of alcoholism recurs throughout the film.
Page last updated February 20, 2024
Ordinary Angels Parents' Guide
Why does Sharon feel so strongly motivated to help Michelle and her family? Do you think her motivations are selfish or selfless? Do you think that makes a difference in the long run? How do her character traits both help and impair her efforts to help?
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