Directed by: Gary Wheeler
Studio: Swirl Recording and Film Inc.
Run Time: 90 minutes
Cast: Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Loretta Devine, Gregalan Williams, Esai Morales
Distributed in Australia by Heritage Films
How many times have you taken your family to a movie and chewed your fingernails hoping that it wasn’t going to impact your children in a negative way? I know I have, and I remember cringing in moments and praying certain things would just ‘go over their heads’.
Our four children are aged from nine to 18 so it’s nice to sit down and watch a movie that the whole family will enjoy without having to worry about if it will be appropriate for all age-groups or not. Last Sunday afternoon we had the privilege of doing just that.
Heritage Films, based on the Sunshine Coast, is focussed on bringing a safe alternative to Australian families and it is this company who has brought us the film for review, Saving Westbrook High.
Anyone who has had a memorable teacher, was a student trying to find their way at school or knows what it’s like to be the new kid, is likely to connect with this light-hearted movie.
Manny Cortez’s dream to have his daughters attend the school where his father had coached the Westbrook Eagles, saw him move his family to a new town only to find the school had been recently instructed to close to make way for a super-school.
Very quickly, the humour and kindness of the teachers with the added comic relief of Boomer (Brian LaFontaine) the geeky science teacher, finds Manny’s family, including his hesitant daughter Celina, join the majority of the school community in the fight to save Westbrook High.
New Principal, Dr Christine Walker (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) is believable in her role as antagonist. The conflict between her and old school friend – now literature teacher, Elijah Bennett (Coby Ryan McClaughlin, Parenthood), is mixed with old feelings, which begin to resurface.
With things not looking good for the future of the school, Mr Bennett very naturally turns to prayer and, as the issues and events unfold, the results are somewhat surprising and heart-warming.
From the title, I initially thought I had this film figured out before I watched it, but thankfully there is plenty of activity to keep the audience’s attention. The well-written and balanced script manages to weave through a tapestry of different lives and stories that congregate to unite in one cause.
Saving Westbrook High is a light-hearted thoughtful movie that all the family will enjoy. My teenagers, as well as my younger children, were attentive to the end and with comments like “that was really good!” their enjoyment was evident as they chatted about the story and the characters.
I think this movie is a winner in bringing all age groups together for wholesome family viewing.
As a family friendly movie, we gave it a rating of 4/5 and just right of centre.
With National Teacher’s Day celebrated in October, Saving Westbrook High would be a timely gift to say thank you to the teacher, Kidschurch or Youth leader in your life.
The following dedication has been considerately included at the end of the film:
‘This film is dedicated to parents and teachers everywhere who work tirelessly – often against mammoth obstacles – to ensure the quality education of our children.’
To purchase this film or to create an event, Head to the Heritage Films Australia website: www.store.movieschangepeople.com
First published on Christian Today Australia 9th October, 2015
(c) Rebecca Moore 2015