Rated: PG
Release Date: 02/23/2024
Production Company: Lionsgate Films

Hilary Swank, Alan Ritchson, Tamala Jones and Nancy Travis.

Director: Jon Gunn. Producers: Rhonda Baker, David Beal, Jon Berg, Johnathan Dorfman, Kevin Downes, Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin, Bekah Hubbell, Courtney Johnson, Sarah E. Johnson, Dave Matthews and Mark Montague. Executive Producers: Rick Baker, Jon Gunn, Chelsea Kujawa, Roy Lee, Matthew J. Parker and Tony Young. Screenwriters: Kelly Fremon Craig and Meg Tilly. Cinematographer: Maya Bankovic.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

The faith-based movie, "Ordinary Angels" from director Jon Gunn ("American Underdog" and "The Unbreakable Boy") is a heart-warming reminder that human kindness and good deeds can do wonders.

"Ordinary Angels" is based on a true story that took place in Louisville, Kentucky in 1994. The movie stars two-time Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank ("Fatale" and TV's "Alaska Daily") as a party-going hairdresser named Sharon Stevens. Sharon loves a good time. She's the life of every party and can knock back drinks like nobody's business. But the good times finally catch up to Sharon although she won't admit she has a drinking problem. Fortunately, her good friend Rose (Tamala Jones, TV's "The Wood" and "9-1-1 Lone Star"), will. Rose insists Sharon gets help and makes her go to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Sharon finds support at the meetings, and it slowly begins to sink in that it's time for a major change in her life. But, when she reads a newspaper article about Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson, TV’s "Reacher"), a local widower and father whose 5-year-old daughter Michelle (Emily Mitchell, "Priscilla") needs a liver transplant and he can't afford the medical insurance, Sharon is touched so much that she decides to ditch the drinking and do everything she can to help Ed and his family.

Sharon starts by rallying the troops at the beauty salon as well as hitting the ground in the community and asking for donations. When she gets a sizable amount of money she goes to Ed's home and meets his mother Barbara (Nancy Travis, TV's "Ride") and oldest daughter Ashley (Skywalker Hughes, TV's "Joe Pickett"). They are surprised to see her and even more so when she explains why she stopped by. When Ed comes out to meet her and she hands him an envelope of money, he's stunned and actually very suspicious. Why is this woman doing this? What is she really after?

It turns out that Sharon's act of kindness is simply that. An act of kindness. She doesn't want anything in return. In fact, she feels a deep sense of connection and purpose now that she's helping someone other than herself.

Plus, as the movie goes on, we see that Sharon's estranged relationship with her own son, Derek (Dempsey Bryk, TV's "Willow") has caused them both pain. Perhaps, this will also bring Derek and her closer together.

Still, Ed isn't a guy who takes handouts even though he's drowning in debt trying to pay off all the medical bills. His work as a contractor doesn't come close to making ends meet. In addition, he's trying to be strong for the girls and is still hurting and grieving over his wife. Ed slowly comes around to Sharon especially when she begins to bond with the girls. When she turns up the heat on his bill collectors and takes matters into her hands, Ed realizes Sharon is no ordinary person.

I couldn't help but wonder while watching "Ordinary Angels" if the Schmitt's story played out like it did in the movie. Even if half of the events actually happened, what Sharon accomplished with the help of the entire community was just remarkable.

"Ordinary Angels" is an uplifting film. Screenwriters Kelly Fremon Craig ("Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret") and Meg Tilly (TV's "Chucky") eschew preachiness and also don't go overboard with its religious stance. The focus is on the power of faith for sure, but also the film emphasizes, unity, empathy and compassion.

Swank never lets us forget that she's an Oscar winning actress. Her commanding presence alongside Ritchson is what makes "Ordinary Angels" an extraordinary drama.

Look At This Trailer For "ORDINARY ANGELS"

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Year Released: 1975
Running Time: 109
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Berry Gordy, Tony Richardson and Jack Wormser
Director of Photography: David Watkin
Screenwriter: John Byrum and Toni Amber
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


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