Category: Faith and Family on the Internet

5 Family-Friendly Series and Films About Horses (Plus Two Bonus Films!)

Free Rein

It may be the dog days of August, but we’re talking horses. After all, we had another Triple Crown winner this year with Justify, and the annual Thoroughbred-racing season is well underway at the historic Saratoga Springs Racecourse in my hometown in upstate New York. So, let’s get horsey — take it away, guest blogger Adrienne Thorne!

…Kate O’Hare (editor)

When it comes to non-animated fare, it might feel like there’s just not a lot out there that you can watch with your kids. There’s one little sub-genre, though, that I’ve found to be refreshingly clean, on the whole. That sub-genre is horse drama.

My kids happen to love watching shows and movies that have lots of “horsies” in them. And I’ll admit that sometimes these types of shows and movies do run a little on the cheesy side, or a lot on the cheesy side in some cases. But here are five picks that are actually pretty entertaining.

Heartland

This 11-season Canadian horse drama is about a teenage girl who loses her mother and decides to carry on her mom’s work of rehabilitating damaged, untrainable horses. There’s lots of family and relationship drama, plenty of storylines revolving around problems with the horses, and an abundance positive values.

On the downside, it’s a bit cheesy here and there (especially the first season — but it gets quite a bit better later on!), and the later seasons tend toward the edgier end of the PG spectrum, with occasional discussion of things like unwed pregnancy and substance abuse — though it’s all treated in a pretty family-friendly way.

“Heartland” is currently streaming on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Free Rein

This Netflix original series is about a 15-year-old American girl who spends the summer on an English island with some family and discovers her natural ability with horses.

I have to admit that I started watching this G-rated series expecting it to be unwatchably cheesy, but I was pleasantly surprised. There’s a bit of silliness here and there, and definitely more cute teenaged boys crushing on the heroine than feels realistic, but over all it’s not bad.

Mister Ed

I remember watching this B&W comedy series about a talking horse named Mister Ed when I was a small child. And as a parent now, I can definitely see why my parents let me. Like most comedy shows of the late 50s and early 60s, this one is pretty clean. And littler kids will probably get a real kick out of the fact that that palomino horse is talking!

“Mister Ed” is currently streaming on Hulu.

Cowgirls ‘N Angels

This is one of those little movies that look like they could be pretty hit or miss quality-wise, but it’s not bad at all. It’s a PG drama about a feisty pre-teen girl whose unknown father is a rodeo star. Without ever really intending to follow in his footsteps, she discovers she has a knack for riding and begins training with a trick-riding team.

Cowgirls ’N Angels is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Harry & Snowman

If something educational is more your taste, you might enjoy this documentary about a post-World War II Dutch immigrant who bought a horse bound for the glue factory and trained him into an elite jumper. The film takes a look at their training process, the surprising victories they went on to achieve, and the bond between man and horse.

“Harry & Snowman” is streaming on Netflix right now.

And a bonus from the editor — since I’m a huge Thoroughbred-racing fan, I couldn’t close this out without including two of my favorite films in the genre: 2010’s “Secretariat,” about racing’s second “Big Red” and the 1973 Triple Crown winner (after a 25-year drought), which is on Amazon Prime and Netflix; and 2003’s “Seabiscuit,” about the legendary underdog champion of the Great Depression, available on Amazon Prime, HBO GO and HBO NOW.

“Secretariat” is PG and suitable for all audiences; “Seabiscuit” is PG-13, for some mature themes, and is probably best for middle-schoolers and up.

And my favorite bit from “Secretariat,” featuring a gospel arrangement of a classic hymn:

Images: Courtesy Netflix

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Bishop Barron’s ‘Catholicism’ Marks 10 Years With Video and Free Online Screening

A decade ago, then-Father Robert Barron started filming his acclaimed “Catholicism” series, which premiered in the fall of 2011 on PBS, and has since gone on to become one of the most beloved and acclaimed presentations about the Faith.

Available on DVD and online, “Catholicism” not only became a mainstream media phenomenon but a catechetical one as well, with many Catholic educators using the show to teach both children and adults.

Emphasizing the scope, history, beauty and faces of the Church past and present, “Catholicism” set a gold standard for portraying the Catholic Church in the mainstream media. Beautifully shot all around the world and carefully researched, it’s leagues beyond many sensational popular documentaries and movies that often trivialize, sensationalize or outright misrepresent the Church, her teachings and her history.

From the original press release for the PBS debut:

“The filming of the Catholicism series was one of the most exciting and rewarding periods of my life,” said Fr. Barron. “Our team traveled the globe to capture some of the beauty, truth, and texture of Catholicism. I am thrilled that people across the country will have the opportunity to share in the series,  and I hope to engage the imaginations of both Catholics and non-Catholics.“

“This series changed the way I think and act. The global settings were stunning, but it was Fr. Barron s brilliant insights on life s most challenging issues that shook me to the core,’ admitted [executive producer and filmmaker] Mike Leonard. “Whatever your belief or background, there is much to gain from this deep and profound excursion into spirituality, logic and the human experience,” he added.

In this sweeping documentary, Father Barron tells the story of Catholicism around the world using art, architecture, literature, music and all the riches of the Catholic tradition. The production crew travels to some of the most magnificent and sacred sites in Jerusalem, Rome, Krakow, Warsaw, New York, Istanbul, Ephesus, Lourdes, Mexico City, Athens, Corinth, Mexico City, Uganda, Manila, Sao Paolo, Auschwitz, Kolkata, Philadelphia, Chicago, and beyond.

The team was granted exclusive access to film privately in many locations inaccessible to the general public. Highlights include some of the world s architectural and artistic masterpieces and most sacred places: The Dome of The Rock, the Hagia Sophia, the tomb of Mother Teresa, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rare views of the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Pope’s private gardens, Chartres, Notre Dame, and Cologne Cathedrals, as well as one of the largest religious celebrations on the planet, the feast of the Ugandan martyrs.

To mark the occasion, now-Bishop Barron and executive producer Steve Grunow of Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate have released this video:

Word on Fire has also made the whole 10-part series free for viewing online for a limited time.

Click here to learn more.

Images: Courtesy Word on Fire

 Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘God Bless the Broken Road’: Catholic Screenwriter Jennifer Dornbush’s Movie Releases a Trailer

This September, “God Bless the Broken Road” hits theaters, telling the faith-based story of a young wife struggling with her husband’s death in Afghanistan.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

In the film, a young mother (True Blood and Hatfields and McCoys‘ Lindsay Pulsipher) struggles to hold onto her faith as she raises her daughter (Steve Jobs‘ Makenzie Moss) in the wake of her husband’s death in Afghanistan.

In the preview, her character is heard saying, “I tried putting my faith in God. I don’t understand why he would do that to us. If he wants me, he knows where to find me.”

Meanwhile, her daughter is convinced a mustard seed she planted in Sunday school will grow and she meets one of the men who served alongside her husband (played by Arthur Cartwright), who tells her that her husband’s faith “gave him the courage to do the impossible.”

The cast also includes former NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson, Jordin Sparks and Andrew W. Walker.

Here’s the official trailer:

Director Harold Cronk (“God’s Not Dead”) is listed as one of the screenwriters, along with Catholic screenwriter, author and forensic specialist Jennifer Dornbursh.

Last year, Dornbush spoke at Family Theater Productions, and beforehand took a few minutes to sit down with us for an interview. Take a look:

Image: Courtesy 10 West Studios/A Really Good Home Pictures

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘God Bless America’: Boston Police Partners Make Sweet Patrol-Car-Karaoke Music

As America celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday, many law-enforcement officers were deployed to keep cities and towns safe for fireworks, parades and BBQs.

In Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution, two longtime patrol partners decided to take a page from the book of British-born latenight TV host James Corden, who does “Carpool Karaoke” singing duets with major stars for his “Late, Late Show” on CBS.

Officers Stephen McNulty and Kim Tavares — both musicians in their free time — filmed themselves singing “God Bless America” as they tooled around Beantown.

Have a listen:

Here are the full lyrics to “God Bless America,” penned by legendary songwriter Irving Berlin:

God bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam.
God bless America, my home sweet home.
God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam.
God bless America, my home sweet home.
From the mountains to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam.
God bless America, my home sweet home,
God bless America, my home sweet home.

We hope you had a beautiful holiday — and God Bless Us All!

Images: Courtesy BPDNews.com

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

3 for the Fourth: ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Patton,’ the Pony Express and FIREWORKS!

Most of us are probably thinking about fireworks and cookouts right about now. But perhaps we should remember that it’s called, “Independence Day,” and not merely, “the 4th of July,” as we often call it.

While there aren’t really a ton of family-friendly viewing options available to stream that are about America’s founding itself, there are quite a few good options that have to do with other parts of our nation’s history.

(Last year, we highlighted “John Adams,” “1776” and “Last of the Mohicans” — click here for that)

So if you’re interested in celebrating the day our country declared independence with a little patriotic viewing in addition to your outdoor festivities, here are three options available to stream right now that can get you and your family in the American spirit.

Lincoln (2012)

I actually saw this film in the theater when it first came out, and it takes a lot of hype and excitement to get me to spend $12 on a ticket. This particular movie did not disappoint.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a conflicted Abraham Lincoln trying to get Congress to pass the amendment that would end slavery, this 2.5 hour war movie is a little intense at times. Steven Spielberg directed the film, which was nominated for several Oscars (winning two), so you can bet it never bores.

While some of the war images (and some language) might be too much for younger viewers, it’s free of sexual content and gratuitous violence.

Lincoln is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and Netflix.

Patton (1970)

For a more old-school style movie about America’s past wars, check out the 1970 film “Patton,” which is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes and Google Play. Nearly three hours long, this winner of seven Oscars takes a look at the monumental personage of American General George S. Patton (George C. Scott) and the role he played in World War II.

The film is rated PG, but keep in mind that the PG of 1970 looks a bit different than today’s PG-rated movie. The film has a fair amount of realistic war violence, as well as some language.

Spirit of the Pony Express (2012)

Take a look back at an interesting point in American history, the precursor of our modern mail system, the Pony Express.

This G-rated documentary features a look at the actual trail that Pony Express riders used from California to Missouri as they delivered mail, and it discusses just why the Pony Express was so important during its short time of operation in the mid-1800s. It also has some pretty cool-looking reenactments, and plenty of horsies if your kids are as into them as mine are.

“Spirit of the Pony Express” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

BONUS — Ambient Fireworks!

In case you can’t get out to watch some spectacular fire works tomorrow night, never fear, because YouTube has 10 hours of fireworks you can put on your TV. And the best part about these fireworks is that you can control the volume yourself!

About the author:

Adrienne is a freelance writer specializing entertainment, parenting, relationships, and other lifestyle topics.

Images: Courtesy Walt Disney Studios/20th Century Fox

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘Today, Hope, Faith and Love Won’: Twitter’s Fr. Goyo on a Wedding He’ll Never Forget

Fr. Gregorio “Goyo” Hidalgo lives the life of an ordinary parish priest not far from the Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California. What makes his ordinary life extraordinary is he has a gift for sharing it on social media — even if the story he’s telling is both beautiful and tragic.

On May 12, the Spanish-born priest shared on his Twitter account (@FrGoyo) — where he currently has 11.8K followers, after only about a year — the story of Estela and Nicolas. He officiated at their wedding … in the hospital where Estela is in the last stages of a battle against cancer.

The hospital staff came together to put on a lovely event for the couple. which Father Goyo shared in a series of tweets. EWTN’s ChurchPop picked up the story, but it wasn’t the only one. Here it is on Catholic News Agency’s Spanish-language sister agency, ACI Prensa; and here it is in Hungarian.

This isn’t the only time Fr. Goyo was in the news because of Twitter. Back in January, he tweeted about going to a hospital to offer Communion to a patient, when a mix-up in room numbers allowed him to also administer the sacraments to a dying woman — which Catholic News Agency also picked up.

A couple of weeks ago, he updated the story of Estela and Nicolas:

But none of the places that picked up the original Twitter thread reported the whole story. Fr. Goyo is the vicar at St. Rose of Lima Church in Simi Valley. On a warm June day, we settle at a table and chairs outside the rectory kitchen to talk. He reveals that the couple was already civilly married and had a family.

“They had kids,” Fr. Goyo says, “and they would marry sacramentally. So, they needed what we call a convalidation, which is a sacramental marriage. They knew it. The most beautiful part about this was, both of them wanted to receive the sacrament, and they didn’t know how to do it.

“They said, ‘Father, we married civilly. We don’t know why we did it. We came to this country; we did it this way.’ … And, you know what, I’m going to say this, I admire those who know this state of life (and say), ‘I’m going to get out of it.’

“It’s not like they said, ‘Who cares? Let’s go to Communion and Mass every day. We don’t care. We are not including the eyes of God.’ They knew it, and because of knowing it, they wanted to get out of it.”

In other words, the couple had not been wed in the Church and were technically living in sin. So, before Estela died, they wanted their marriage blessed by the Church, so that they could licitly receive all the sacraments.

So, Fr. Goyo consulted a canon lawyer and made sure he did everything necessary to do the sacramental wedding properly. He’s thrilled that this couple let conscience be a guide.

“In fact,” he says, “there are people showing up to get married at parishes, who are living together, right? They’re just doing it to shut their parents up and really don’t think it’s that big a deal. Yeah, these people knew it was a big deal. They have three kids; six, five and two.”

Fr. Goyo wanted to make sure his readers knew that he was doing something by the Church’s rules, to bring Estela and Nicolas fully back into the fold.

“Even though it was a love story,” he says, “it was a sacramental story. It was a love story with God, more than themselves.”

While he’s very open on Twitter, Fr. Goyo is still feeling his way about the best use of it to describe a priest’s life and the Faith. Sometimes, a joke goes wrong, but he approaches all of it with an open heart and a sincere desire to make people love the Church.

That’s because he knows what it’s like to abandon the practice of Catholicism and embrace the secular world.

Fr. Goyo has much in common with St. Augustine. Both spent their youth seeking wealth and pleasure, while devout mothers kept praying. After a decade or so away from the Faith, Goyo Hidalgo crashed. When he picked himself back up, a childhood desire to become a priest was reawakened. (BTW, he put his full conversion and vocation story in a video on Twitter, of course.)

As I type, Fr. Goyo, who’s on vacation back in his native Toledo, Spain, just tweeted:

Power of prayer, indeed.

Image: Courtesy @FrGoyo on Twitter; Kate O’Hare

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.