Posted: 05/05/2010


The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is a great inspirational film for all ages, starring Gavin Macleod (of the Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show fame) and Robert Guillaume, most famously remembered in Benson. Young Jansen Panettiere stars as Dustin, a young man who, along with his group of buddies and enemies (but not for long), enjoys a carefree live. Macleod, who is in his late 70’s and a born-again Christian, is making inroads in the Christian film industry.

I enjoyed this movie that teaches young men how to be Christians from the eyes, stories and secrets of Jonathan. The young boys hang out at a local diner in the film that is set in the 1970s. Jonathan is one of the residents on the block where Dustin lives. They make acquaintance, and Jonathan proceeds to teach the group of boys about the Bible and how to live the Christian life. The boys are amicable to these teachings, because they are essentially good kids.

The bane of their existence, however, is a young bully named Nick, who frequents the local diner also; taking pizza from other kids’ tables and bullying his way around the pinball machine that is so popular with the customers.

As the 12-year-old boys look forward to a fun summer, they each grow much in their own ways and the experience will be one that is unforgettable. Guillaume plays a neighbor of Jonathan named Mr. Barnes, and he’s a crotchety, old man who seems to be bitter.

In real life, Guillaume has suffered a stroke, and he walks with a cane in the movie. After a few attempts, Dustin is successful in mowing Barnes’ lawn, after Jonathan agrees to pay Dustin—he just doesn’t want Dustin to let Barnes know that he’s paying. It’s discovered that Barnes has a heavy heart and might not be just bitter but remorseful and pensive because of previous events.

Jonathan has quite a few secrets, and the movie is such a delightful statement on faith, Christianity and the power of the Bible in bringing even enemies together in the end. The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry teaches us all, whether you are Christian or not, that life is so much easier when people display love and kindness toward one another. In the end, the young men learn real-life, long lasting lessons that they keep with them forever.

The film is distributed by phase4films, written by Rich and Dave Christiano, and is available on DVD and for church screenings. Visit Web site or

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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