Grace (newcomer Madelyn Dundon) is a teenage girl dying of cancer, who crashes a funeral home to find out what will happen to her after she dies. Instead, Grace ends up teaching the awkward funeral director, Bill (Daniel Roebuck), how to celebrate life in this critically acclaimed movie for the entire family. DOVE REVIEW
We wish they knew heaven. Getting Grace is both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time, for the viewer is aware from the beginning that protagonist Grace (Madelyn Dundon) is dying of cancer. She is in the final stages and lives alone with her alcoholic mother, Venus (Marsha Dietlein), who has turned to this addiction as a way of coping with the impending loss of her daughter. However, from the beginning, Grace is ironically full of life. She spends much of the film bouncing across the screen, cracking jokes, and defying those she encounters to live life to the fullest.
Grace is bubbly, funny, and tragic, for the viewer is constantly reminded that she is near death, but we are often distracted by her encounters with a funeral home director who is rigid in personality and character. Grace is determined to embrace him into her family and play matchmaker to him and her mother; comical antics and poignant moments ensue as characters are challenged by Grace to let go of the status quo and embrace the unknown.
Grace’s own journey entails discovering what will happen to her after she dies. She spends time conversing with a pastor and a “mind over matter” author in an attempt to understand the concepts of faith and belief. Of course, Grace has a much more profound impact on those around her than any answers the others are able to provide to her. However, in Grace’s final moments, when she has accomplished many of her immediate goals, including getting herself a boyfriend, she has a grave epiphany.
Getting Grace contains a few questionable elements that make it for teen and adult viewing only, such as swearing and excessive alcohol consumption by Venus, as well as some unruly drunken behavior. However, Venus eventually gets a handle on her choices and enters rehab to eliminate her dysfunctional behavior and cope with the loss of her daughter in a healthy way.
The filmmakers are wise to take the viewer through Grace’s dying moments, up to her last words, making this film both an emotional and enlightening journey that portrays death as dignified and bittersweet. We award Getting Grace the Dove-Approved Ages 12+.