BREAKTHROUGH – Review by Susan Granger

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One of the most effective in the mini-genre of Christian faith-based films, this relates the story of John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), a 14 year-old boy who was submerged in frozen Lake Sainte Louise in St. Charles, Mo. for 15 minutes before being rescued and transported to the ER, frigid and without a pulse.

John’s devoted mother Joyce (Chrissy Metz) – who adopted him as an infant from Guatemala – rushed to nearby St. Joseph’s hospital. When the doctors told her that comatose John might never recover, she rejected their negativity and prayed – loud and long – at his bedside.

“The minute I prayed ‘Holy Spirit, please come and give me back my son!’ his heartbeat started,” Joyce recalls.

John was then airlifted to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, where he suffered multiple organ failure and little sign of neurological function. Meanwhile, overwrought Joyce continued her prayer vigil, Joined by her husband Brian (Josh Lucas), Pastor Jason Noble (Topher Grace) and John’s classmates.

Miraculously, John walked out of the hospital less than three weeks later with no brain damage. Now 18 years-old, John travels the country speaking to young people, and he plans to attend a Christian college in the fall.

Based on “The Impossible: The Miraculous Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection” by Joyce Smith, it’s cloyingly adapted by Grant Nieporte and melodramatically directed by Roxann Dawson.

There’s an inordinate amount of insipid dialogue devoted to the Golden State Warriors, which is not surprising since the team’s star, Stephen Curry, is executive producer.

FYI: Emergency responder Tommy Shine, who risked his life to save John, claims – in actuality – he never heard the “voice of God” during the rescue; that’s totally fictionalized, along with his subsequent religious conversion.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Breakthrough” is a shallow, yet inspirational 6, aimed directly at an evangelical Christian audience.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.