Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. I Can Only Imagine Website | Movie Review by Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
I Can Only Imagine intends to tell the true story behind the creation of MercyMe’s classic worship song (which has sold more copies than any other Christian song in history). Written by Bart Millard (Finley), the song visualizes what it will be like to enter eternal life and see Jesus face-to-face. The background to the song’s composition is the change that Bart saw in his father Arthur (Quaid), who had been abusive to Bart, his mother (Tanya Clarke) and his brother, but who came to accept Christ late in life, become the best kind of dad. Bart also found it in his heart to forgive his father.
This story of forgiveness and reconciliation is buried in the middle of a clichéd “making of a band” story that includes all of the regular players, including a faithful wife (Madeline Carroll) who Bart first meets at church camp, a tenacious and plain-speaking manager (well-played by country singer Trace Adkins), and a couple of celebrity contemporary Christian artists. We also get to see that reliable scene in which kids in cars drive around the country, handing over a CD to little local radio stations, hoping that the DJ can give the song a spin.