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Footprints + Friends for Life – Double Feature – Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Review by Kelly Burgess

Mill Creek Entertainment
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Footprints + Friends for Life is a double feature of films that includes both Blu-ray and DVD discs plus a key code to access them digitally with your Mill Creek Entertainment account. This set is available for just $14.98. Both of these outstanding Christian films surround the theme of canines and how they can be used to inspire us in our walk with God.

The first film I watched was Footprints, which is based on a true story. This is a lovely film of hope and redemption. I have a compassionate heart for dogs and believe they can play a huge role in teaching us how to love unconditionally and serve others, just as they love and serve our own needs. That’s exactly what this film is about.

The story begins with a young boy who loses his loving and compassionate mother at an early age. His father was verbally abusive and uninterested in raising a needy little boy. As a result, the man turns the boy over to be raised by his grandparents who run an orphanage. In this environment, the boy, David, is shown great love by his grandfather, who teaches him from scripture how to turn from anger and live for God. His grandmother lacks compassion and it not very nurturing, but David learns how to survive in his environment.

As an adult, David, who had recently lost his first furry companion to a tumor, marries the love of his life and gains a stepdaughter in the process. After grieving the loss of his dog for quite some time, he decides to get another German Shepherd, this time from a rescue group. The dog he chooses has a questionable past full of abuse and neglect, and the dog had been deemed unadoptable. But David has a great connection with the dog, feeling that they had both survived similar pasts. Immediately, David finds the dog, Katie, to have a natural propensity towards caring for and protecting those in need. His family comes up with the idea of training Katie to be a therapy dog. In her new role, Katie thrives, and the children and the elderly she helps thrive in her presence, as well.

Soon, David tries to expand Katie’s services to a summer bible school program at church, but the pastor rejects his idea and tells him he is on the wrong path. David’s wife later takes a job in a new place, so the family moves. David uses the new environment as an opportunity to make new friends and to find new avenues of service for Katie. He begins a series of speaking engagements at area churches where he uses Katie’s story to inspire his fellow Christians to turn from their troubled pasts and use their God-given gifts in the service of others. At one such event, his former pastor was also a speaker and was prepared to shoot David down. David almost abandons his speech at the harsh words of the pastor, but Katie inspires him to continue. In doing so, the pastor realizes he missed the real message of working with Katie and apologizes publicly to David.

This was an emotional film that had me in tears several times. I love the message that all of God’s creation has a purpose, and even the dog could help inspire others to do as Jesus instructs:  to love and serve the needs of those around us with pure hearts filled with compassion. What a beautiful film! I would recommend it.

The next film, Friends for Life, begins with a recently widowed man who has lost his way and his sense of purpose. His late wife was known to be a giving and generous person who touched the lives of those around her. She had always been ready with a helping hand. But her husband, Jim, is a rough-around-the-edges guy and former attorney who is used to taking money for his services and not giving away his help for free.

In his grief, an angel of God appears in the flesh to help Jim find the softer side of himself that his wife had loved so much. As Jim responds to the angel’s prodding by finding ways to help those around him who are in need, he finds a renewed sense of purpose and an escape from the grief within himself.

Meanwhile, Jim decides to raise the pups of a wild wolf his wife had befriended which had been recently shot and killed by a crooked real estate developer in the area. These wolf pups grow up and must be released back into the wild, but they had a bond with Jim that would never be broken. Later in the story when Jim finds himself attacked by a grizzly bear in the woods behind his home, the now-adult wolves come to his rescue and fetch his friend to bring help.

There are many background stories taking place behind the main story of Jim recovering from his loss. The shady real estate developer I mentioned is trying to use eminent domain to steal land from Jim and many of his neighbors. In the end, with Jim’s help and the help of his son who is also an attorney, the community bands together to save their land and rid themselves of the real estate shark once and for all. Another background story is Jim’s son who is raising his children on his own. He had moved away from his hometown to work as an attorney elsewhere because deep down inside, he feared disappointing his father. But when he comes back to help rescue his father and other members of the community, he finds his dad a softer and kinder person, and they decide to go into business together, creating their own law firm.

I love the background story of the wolf pups and their loyalty to the man who had saved their lives early on. I love that Jim brought honor to the memory of his wife by taking on her sense of duty to the community of people around her, and in doing so, he was able to rise above his deep sense of grief and loneliness. I do think this story could have been told without the angel. This added an element of fiction in what could have otherwise been a very believable story. But it was a great tale of healing and finding one’s best self by loving others more than oneself.

Both films were worthwhile stories, full of inspiration and filled with kindness to others. These are themes that can uplift everyone. I highly recommend this double feature for some good, wholesome family entertainment.

-Product review by Kelly Burgess, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2019

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