The Greening of Whitney Brown

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There’s a fun film opening in select theaters this weekend that took me immediately back to my tween days and reminded me of fun Saturday afternoons at the movies with my siblings or girlfriends. The Greening of Whitney Brown is a tale of redemption, simply told in a fun fashion, with a positive moral that makes it a great choice for kids growing up in an age where fourth graders pack iPhones and we’re all too busy to sit down for family meals together.

This family friend film, rated PG for “brief, mild language” tells the story of 8th grader Whitney Brown (cutely played by Sammi Hanratty), a spoiled rich kid who seems to have her world by the tail at the story’s outset.

Whitney’s the popular, rich, cute girl — a leader of her pack and a trendsetter amidst the “it” kids at her privileged private school. We witness enough of her power shopping and meanness to the “scholarship student” to know that she’s on the wrong track. A peek into Whitney’s home life gives evidence to a dad (Aiden Quinn) who’s a power broker and a mom (Brooke Shields) who’s so busy doing good for society that she doesn’t have time for her own kid.

Salvation for Whitney happens when her dad is suddenly fired and her family lands in a rural town living in a farmhouse with very few modern amenities. Suddenly Whitney must learn to survive without money, texting, her cell phone — and friends. The popular girl suddenly finds herself lonely and relearning what’s really important in life.

One of her best teachers turns out to be a spunky horse named “Bob” who in many ways is the star of this film. Along the way, Whitney also meets her “grumpy” grandfather (Kris Kristofferson) who was never much of a dad but who seems to be redeeming himself as a grandparent.

The Greening of Whitney Brown is a fun family film almost completely devoid of objectionable content. I loved Brooke Shields’ portrayal of Joan Brown and as an Aiden Quinn fan, I’m always happy to see his work. If you have elementary school age children and are looking for a fun viewing option for the whole family, you’ll enjoy this movie. I think it also provides a great opportunity to reflect with our children on the true blessings in life: family, friends, nature and God’s blessings. Is there a bit of silliness in this film? Yes, and that adds to the charm — who doesn’t want to see a horse riding in the back of a Mini Cooper convertible?

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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