The Christian rock band MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" is considered the most-played contemporary Christian song, earning multi-platinum status. The movie recounts the travails of Bart Millard (Brody Rose and J. Michael Finley), writer and singer of the song, who composed it for his father (Dennis Quaid), an abuser that became a Christian to overcome his violent tendencies. Also with Cloris Leachman, Madeline Carroll, Trace Adkins and Priscilla Shirer. Directed by Andrew Erwin. [1:50]
SEX/NUDITY 1 - A little girl kisses a little boy on the cheek after telling him she thinks they will one day fall in love and get married. A woman kisses a man on the cheek. A woman hugs a man. A man and a woman both say, "I love you" in two scenes.
VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - Two men argue at breakfast; one man picks up a plate of food, walks behind the younger man, and breaks the china plate on the back of the victim's head (we see a little blood on the victim's temple); the older man tells the younger man he will punch him in the face and the younger man picks up a ball bat, points it at the other man, makes his way to the door and leaves.
► A 10-year-old boy returns home from a week at camp to find his mother gone and a moving truck taking away most of the household furnishings; his father, unshaven and in rumpled clothing, tells the boy his mom no longer wants either one of them and the boy slaps at his father, who slams him onto the floor and pins him there for several seconds.
► A man shouts and throws a half-full gallon-size milk container into the back of the head of a teen boy, who flinches (we do not see an injury). A man goes to his son's room with a leather belt in his hand (implying that he will whip the boy) but then walks away. A man shouts at his son, telling him to stop dreaming about possibilities. A younger man argues with an older man at breakfast, shouts and leaves. We hear that the man beat his son so badly that the boy slept on his stomach because the bruises were so widespread up and down his back. We hear that a woman had an abusive marriage and a more abusive relationship with another man afterwards and that the ex-husband beat the other man and threw him down, threatening to kill him. A teen boy argues briefly with a teacher. A teen boy argues a few times with a classmate, causing her to cry once. Four men in a band argue briefly. A man argues with four older men and a woman, and two men say, "You're not good enough"; the first man becomes angry and stalks away. A flashback shows a man's father telling him, "You're not good enough." Three concerts feature loud cheering and applause, with several men and women raising their hands in worship. A flashback shows a man listening to a hymn on the radio and crying.
► A high school football player is tackled hard by three other players and falls, shouting in pain; the scene cuts to the boy on a gurney rushing through a hospital corridor and the scene cuts again to an X-ray of his leg with a long pin through the upper tibia and knee and a coil of metal attached to the knee and tibia; we see the young man in a hospital bed with a cover over his lower body and legs as his father enters the room, tells him he'll never play football again and walks out.
► A man burns his football gear and trophies in a barrel fire outdoors, then shouts at his young son, takes a homemade space helmet from him, and slams it into the barrel to burn (the boy cries himself to sleep as his parents scream at each other in another room). A bathroom mirror in a home has several cracks in it and a hole that looks like a bullet hole.
► An older man, rumpled and unkempt, sits at a diner counter and falls off his stool onto the floor, writhing in pain and screaming; the scene cuts to a hospital ER where a doctor tells the man he had low blood sugar and that cancer was also found but the man refuses treatment and leaves; he is met by his teen son and a teen girl in the corridor where they argue briefly. A young man in a wheelchair has a leg in a cast; he falls backwards in the chair and hits the floor but is unhurt and he later walks with crutches and a support boot on his foot. A man wheels an oxygen tank with a tube clipped to his nostrils. A man lies in a hospital bed as another man injects a substance into an IV line (we do not see either end of the line or an IV bag). We see a sick man with a gray face as he closes his eyes and asks another man to sing; the other man sings "Amazing Grace" and the scene cuts to the singer in a black suit in the front row of a church, continuing the song. People wearing black gather in a church, singing, and a closed casket sits at the front of the sanctuary.
► A man finds another man in a garage, beating a jeep with a ball bat; the man falls and the other man picks up the bat as the first man looks up and says, "Do it" (meaning to beat him with the bat) and the other man drops the bat and helps the older man into the house and onto a bed; the younger man asks, "Are you dying" and the older man says, "Yeah."
► A young boy looks frightened as he walks across a suspended footbridge.
► A man says, "I just threw up a little bit" but we see no vomit and there is no retching.
LANGUAGE 1 - Name-calling (stupid, crazy, junk, joke, cocky, monster, fake imitation), exclamations (mercy me, shut up), 9 religious exclamations (Jesus [mumbled], hallelujah, "God tonight I choose to forgive").
SUBSTANCE USE - None.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - Music, musicians, physical and emotional abuse, loneliness, pain, despair, death, making amends, redemption, forgiveness, hope, Christianity, love, family, memories, overcoming the past, dreaming of goals, helping others, facing fears, persistence.
MESSAGE - The most popular modern Christian song came out of pain and hope.