There have been many documentaries about the Camino de Compostela, but none as inspiring or emotionally powerful as the story of Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray in the documentary I’ll Push You.
Their lifelong friendship started when they were born in eastern Oregon in July 1975 at the same hospital—only 24 hours apart. They lived near each other, went to the same schools, and attended the same Nazarene church. But after a car accident in his junior year of high school, Skeesuck developed a rare autoimmune disease called multifocal acquired motor axonopathy. Now in his late 30s and unable to move except to work the remote control, he turns on a Rick Steves travel show on PBS about the Camino. He wonders if he could make the 500-mile pilgrimage in his wheelchair. He asks Gray and, without hesitation, his friend says, “I’ll push you.”
With the backing of their wives and children—and the support of a league of friends—they set out in 2014 to conquer the Camino. The human and spiritual lessons both men learn will resonate with viewers. Gray wants to be in complete control and do everything himself, but pilgrims along the way teach him otherwise. Skeesuck accepts the help that others must provide, from being carried up narrow staircases in tiny hotels to personal needs.
I’ll Push You is one of the most deeply felt films I have seen in a long time. It is based on their book, I’ll Push You: A Camino Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair.
Not yet rated ♦ Mature themes.
The year is 1989 in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. Fourteen-year-old Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), sick in bed, makes a paper boat for his 7-year-old brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), to play with. Georgie goes outside alone in the rain and lets the boat run down the gutter to a storm drain. From inside the drain, a clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) pulls him in.
Georgie’s body is never found, and Bill’s guilt at letting Georgie go out alone weighs on him.
During the summer, Bill and a posse of six friends form the “Losers Club”—which includes a homeschooled African American boy named Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and one girl, Beverly (Sophia Lillis)—because they are the targets of bullies. They roam the town trying to find Georgie. One by one, they encounter bright red balloons and the terrifying clown.
It is a disturbing film and a solid adaptation of horror maestro Stephen King’s 1986 best-selling novel. The violent situations that the adolescents face seem real, but they are psychological projections of their fears. The absence of adequate adults in their lives fuels their isolation.
This coming-of-age parable about kids who are willing to sacrifice everything for one another—and how they prove that love conquers fear—makes for compelling viewing.
L, R ♦ Violence, gore, language, mature themes and situations.
Mitch Davis (Michael Cassidy) is an overworked Hollywood producer. His long hours are taking a toll on his wife, Michelle (Sarah Lancaster), and their oldest child, Christian (Connor Corum). Christian, especially, resents his father’s absence and lack of involvement in his life.
In an effort to save their family, they move to the country, where a stray dog chooses the Davis family as his own. They name him Pluto. Soon, he proves his mettle by alerting the family when their toddler is in danger. In a last-ditch effort to reach Christian, Mitch takes him, two of his friends, and Pluto on a camping trip. They quickly get lost.
Written and directed by Mitch Davis, who also gave us The Other Side of Heaven, The Stray is a gentle, faith-inspired film based on a true story. The acting is sincere but unexciting. However, what happens on the camping trip and on the way home will transform and inspire audiences. It is a sweet look at a wounded family and how a dog brings them together.
Not yet rated, PG ♦ Appropriate for all audiences.