Reel Rating: 3 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements
Released in Theaters: April 1, 2016
Best for Ages: 10+
Genre: Drama, Faith-Based
Runtime: 124 minutes
Directed by: Harold Cronk
Studio: Pure Flix
Cast: Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe, Ray Wise

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: Melissa Joan Hart stars in this faith-based drama about a teacher taken to court for supposedly evangelizing in class.

MOVIE REVIEW: This follow-up to 2014's God’s Not Dead is a faith-based movie about a high school teacher who's hauled into court for supposedly evangelizing in class. There have been a lot of faith-based movies in theaters lately, some good and some not so good. This one falls somewhere in the middle.

The movie features a strong female character who stays true to her beliefs despite the fact that she could lose her job. But it gets a little preachy at times, which might turn off those who aren't religion-oriented.

The story begins with teacher Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) teaching a high school history lesson on the civil rights movement. When a student asks about the parallels between Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ, Grace gives a thoughtful answer. But she soon finds herself on the hot seat when the school board claims she's bringing religion into the classroom.

Soon Grace ends up in court to defend her actions. Brainstorming with her lawyer, Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), the two decide to argue in court that Jesus was a historical figure, which makes him fair game in the classroom.

The actors deliver believable performances in this drama. I especially love Metcalfe's performance, as his character is a non-believer who throws himself into defending Grace to the best of his ability. The movie also features a strong supporting cast, including Ernie Hudson, Robin Givens, Pat Boone, Sadie Robertson, David A.R. White, and Ray Wise, whose villainous character resembles what I think the devil would look like in human form!

You can tell that the cast and crew threw themselves into this movie with heartfelt faith and dedication. Still, the storyline is formulaic -- you can practically see the plot points coming a mile away -- and the script is cliche and a bit wooden.

Could there be a God’s Not Dead 3 in the works? I'm not sure, but stay through the end credits for a bonus scene. (Yes, I was the only person to stay that long! It's not exactly a Marvel movie, so I'm sure no one was expecting it.)

PARENT OVERVIEW: God’s Not Dead 2 is fairly mild when it comes to iffy content. The court scenes get a bit heated at times, and there are angry protesters on the street. But there's no swearing, nudity, drinking, smoking or violence. While it’s ok for kids aged 10 and older, the movie’s storyline might be too mature for younger kids to grasp. Older kids and teens may admire Grace’s resolve to stay true to her beliefs.

PARENT DETAILS (May Contain Spoilers):
Violence/Gore: A few heated arguments and angry protesters on the street.
Sex/Nudity: None, although a few times, the main character mentions her lack of a love life.
Profanity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at jboursaw@charter.net. Images in this review used courtesy of the studio and distributor.
NEW MOVIES IN THEATERS: APRIL 8, 2016 - DEMOLITION, THE BOSS, AND MORE
Not many family movies in theaters lately, but never fear. Next week we’ll have the PG-rated The Jungle Book, a new live-action version of the classic story. As for this week, Jake Gyllenhaal gets crazy in Demolition, Melissa McCarthy is on a power trip in The Boss, and lots more. Let's take a closer look at the new movies in theaters this week (which do include a dance movie!).

HIGH STRUNG
Rated PG for some thematic elements and mild language | In Theaters 4/8 (limited) | Ok for Kids 12+ | Paladin | Reel Preview: 3 of 5 Reels
Ruby Adams (Keenan Kampa) is a dancer from the Midwest with a scholarship to one of New York’s toughest performing arts schools. Johnnie Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine) is an aspiring British musician, playing for money on subway platforms. Ruby’s world is classical and disciplined; Johnnie’s is improvisational and street smart. When these two young artists are thrown together, they immediately clash, but neither can deny the sparks that fly, or their shared ambition of trying to make it in the most competitive city in the world. When Ruby’s scholarship is threatened and Johnnie faces deportation, they join forces and enter a contest where winning -- or losing -- could change their lives forever. With the help of a dynamic dance crew called The SwitchSteps, they prepare to perform in a competition that unites their disparate worlds.

THE INVITATION
Not Rated | In Theaters 4/8 (limited, VOD) | Ok for Kids 17+ | Drafthouse Films | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels
In this psychological thriller directed by Karyn Kusama, tension runs high when Will (Logan Marshall-Green) shows up to his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and new husband, David’s (Michiel Huisman) dinner party. The pair’s tragic past haunts an equally spooky present: Amid Eden’s suspicious behavior and her mysterious house guests, Will becomes convinced that his invitation was extended with a hidden agenda. Unfolding over one dark evening in the Hollywood Hills, The Invitation blurs layers of mounting paranoia, mystery, and horror until both Will -- and the audience -- are unsure what threats are real or imagined.

DEMOLITION
Rated R for language, some sexual references, drug use and disturbing behavior | In Theaters 4/8 | Ok for Kids 17+ | Fox Searchlight | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper) to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts). Amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.

MR. RIGHT
Rated R for violence and language throughout | In Theaters 4/8 (Limited, VOD, Digital HD) | Focus World | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels
Hyperactive at the best of times, Martha (Anna Kendrick) has gone full-on manic since her latest breakup. She babbles, parties like a monster, cooks everything in sight, and is looking to do something terrible when she meets Francis (Sam Rockwell). To anyone else, Francis's approach would come across as creepy, but Martha can't help but be intrigued. They seem a perfect match: she's bananas, he's bananas.. except he's a deadly sort of bananas. He's a professional assassin, and his services are solicited by a dubious client who's being sought by an equally dubious FBI agent (Tim Roth). As the bodies pile up, Martha needs to decide whether to flee or join in the mayhem.

THE BOSS
Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use | In Theaters 4/8 | Ok for Kids 17+ | Universal | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels
This comedy from director Ben Falcone stars Melissa McCarthy (who wrote the screenplay with Falcone and Steve Mallory) as The Boss. She's a titan of industry who's sent to prison after being nailed for insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she wronged is so quick to forgive and forget. This movie also stars Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, and Kathy Bates.

HARDCORE HENRY
Rated R for non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use | In Theaters 4/8 | Ok for Kids 18+ | STX Entertainment | Reel Preview: 2.5 of 5 Reels
Henry remembers nothing. Mainly because he’s just been brought back from the dead by his wife (Haley Bennett). Five minutes later, he’s being shot at, his wife’s been kidnapped, and he should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name is Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a powerful warlord with an army of mercenaries, and a plan for world domination. Everyone wants Henry dead, except for a mysterious British chap called Jimmy (Sharlto Copley). If Henry can survive the insanity and solve the mystery, he might just discover his purpose and the truth behind his identity. Told from a first-person video-game perspective, Hardcore Henry is written and directed by Ilya Naishuller.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Images in this feature used courtesy of the studios and distributors.