Unsung Hero: A hopeful story of reliance on faith and family

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“Unsung Hero” presents a hopeful story of reliance on faith and family

April 26, 2024 -

A still photo from the film "Unsung Hero" showing the Smallbone family carrying suitcases in an airport. Photo provided by Troops & Allies.

A still photo from the film "Unsung Hero" showing the Smallbone family carrying suitcases in an airport. Photo provided by Troops & Allies.

A still photo from the film "Unsung Hero" showing the Smallbone family carrying suitcases in an airport. Photo provided by Troops & Allies.

Sometimes life feels unrelenting. The film Unsung Hero provides a true example of how relentless daily burdens and financial hardships can take a vast toll on health, mental well-being, and family. Such stress can even fracture a strong faith.

But the movie serves as a powerful reminder that God is never too far away.

Releasing in theaters today, April 26, Unsung Hero tells the emotional true story of David and Helen Smallbone, parents to seven children, who lost their livelihood and had to rebuild their lives from scratch.

Their children include Christian music star Rebecca St. James and her younger brothers Joel and Luke, the brotherly duo who make up Christian rock/pop band For King & Country. The movie is based on their song of the same title.

Uniquely, Joel Smallbone not only co-directed the film but also put on his acting boots to play the role of his father, an opportunity he has said was akin to “an expensive therapy session.”

What is Unsung Hero about?

Set in the early 1990s, the movie starts off in the Smallbone’s home country of Australia, where David is an extremely successful concert promoter working to bring Christian artists from America to the Down Under for nationwide tours.

With David’s career taking off, his supportive wife Helen (Daisy Betts) enjoys having their six kids be a part of the concert experiences. Things only seemed to be going up for David when he lands a tour of one of the 90’s biggest Christian artists, Amy Grant.

But just as the tour is set to start, the Australian economy suffers a historic crash, resulting in dismal ticket sales. David’s business nosedives. In one day, he suffers the shock and horror of losing his career and the life he’d built for his family. He also finds out that Helen is pregnant with their seventh child.

When Helen learns of their dire situation, she’s naturally concerned and anxious but provides loving encouragement to her husband, who then begins a phone-calling crusade of all his industry contacts. After striking out with many connections, he finally lands an artist management job with just one catch: it’s in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reluctant to pick up their entire life and move across the globe, Helen finds herself having to faithfully trust the plan God has set before the family. She agrees to be in Nashville for two years while David pieces his career back together.

Scraping together what money they have left, the Smallbone family journeys to America, navigating multiple obstacles along the way. Once in Nashville, the family arrives at an empty rental house. Recognizing how demoralizing a home with no furniture can be, Helen improvises games in the empty rooms, offers encouraging songs for the kids to sing, and makes sleeping pads on the floor out of the clothing in their bags.

Nonetheless, it’s quickly evident that the family is in desperate need of income. With nowhere else to go, David and Helen turn their eyes toward the Lord. Amidst the bad news, David and Helen galvanize their family in crying out to God. Prayer immediately becomes an integral activity in the household.

Throughout the rest of the film, you will see a family that struggles, a God that never leaves, and the burgeoning musical abilities in a family gushing with artistic talent.

Should you see Unsung Hero?

Following in the footsteps of impressive faith-based media content such as I Can Only Imagine, Jesus Revolution, and The Chosen, I was initially wary that this movie may not be up to par. But co-directors Richard L. Ramsey and Joel Smallbone produced just as high quality of a film with exceptional skill.

An impressive musical score steers the emotional backdrop of the story. This is, in turn, supported by beautiful cinematography and savvy scriptwriting. The movie features a solid cast that includes Candace Cameron Bure, Jonathan Jackson, Terry O’Quinn, and a group of child actors who provide fun laughs and snippets of musical abilities.

But the standout pillars are Joel Smallbone and Daisy Betts, whose strong performances realistically portray a stressed-out married couple in the throes of financial and familial instability in an unfamiliar place.

A firsthand witness to his parents’ marriage and faith, Joel offers a fantastic portrait of his own father with a strong screen presence and emotional pull that makes his character relatable to the audience. Betts, an experienced television actress, shines as the loving mother of seven with an ability to bring a sense of peace and comfort anytime she’s on screen.

I highly recommend taking the entire family to see Unsung Hero.

The film offers an emotional journey that jerks a few tears, sprinkles in a few laughs, and impacts the heart of the viewer, a tough combination to accomplish. And for many viewers, some fun musical cameos may take you back to a unique time in Christian music.

Overall, the story is beautifully presented and consistently reminds the audience that we have an all-powerful God who can and will take care of his children, even in the lowest of valleys.

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