Letters to God * * * *
Film director, David Nixon, chooses to open the first scene in his faith based family film, Letters to God, with a young boy writing a letter to God and asking this question, “Dear God, Can you see the stars in heaven? My Dad said you made them all”, and then rambles on with normal daily chit-chat. He closes his written conversation with …”All in all, God, it was a very good day.”
The charming eight year-old Tyler Doherty (Tanner Maguire) is diagnosed with a rare terminal brain tumor. He lives with his mother, Maddy Doherty (Robyn Lively), his teenage brother, Ben (Michael Christopher Bolten) and his grandmother, Olivia (Maree Cheatham). He has just returned home from a long hospital stay and looks forward to hanging with his vivacious next door neighbor, Samatha Perryfield (Bailee Madison), as well as the chance to go back to school. Tyler looks different with a shaved head and lots of scares which could be cause for ridicule; but, he is anxious to return to a normal life. In order to cope with his own physical suffering and the sudden loss of his father, Tyler begins to write letters to God and daily drops them in the mailbox. His stamped mail falls into the hands of the neighborhoods substitute mail carrier, Brady McDaniels (Jeffrey S.S. Johnson). McDaniels initially scoffs at the sight of Tyler’s outgoing post until his boss gives him the task of caring for the letters and is annoyed with his new responsibility; but, he doesn’t have the heart to toss the correspondence and simply collects them. In the course of a few weeks McDaniels comes to know Tyler, his family and the close-knit neighborhood which is a needed balance from his despicable life. He observes that the reality of Tyler’s grim prognosis doesn’t keep him from being a delightful, fun-loving kid as he reaches out to give hope and love to others, putting their needs above his own to truly become a brave warrior, coined by Samatha’s grandfather, Cornelius Perryfield (Ralph Waite).
Letters to God is based on a true story from Patrick Doughtie on the life of his son Tyler who was an inspiration to the people his short-lived life touched while on this earth. A command performance by the whole cast and crew. It is definitely a film not to be missed and is much more than entertainment.
Review by Karen Pecota
24/7 MOMS official film journalist
Released in local theaters: April 9, 2010