A reluctant family accompanies their businessman father to a small town. His mission is to repossess a hardware store that is run using “unusual financial practices.” When his son meets a couple of local kids, together they discover a mysterious note that might change everything if they can unravel the mystery in time.
Tony Vargas is the perfect picture of a corporate exec governed by the bottom line. He’s not too happy to get a call from his middle-school son Josh’s principal, who reports that Josh has pulled another prank with high-tech spy paraphernalia. But Vargas has other things to worry about, like the hardware franchise run by James Thomas, which he is determined to confiscate. The franchise is in the red, and the situation demands he pay a visit to James’s little town, he brings along his high-maintenance wife and boys to squeeze in some quality time between meetings. The usual cut and dry quickly takes a confusing twist as James kindly refuses to relinquish the franchise. When Vargas curtly reminds him that closing the store on the busiest day and giving away items loses profit, James responds with an offer to show Vargas that true profitability is measured by a more important standard: stewardship and serving others. This is enough to make Vargas’s eyes cross, but when he starts seeing real-time examples of James’s devotion to God and others, his conscience slowly awakens.
Meanwhile, Vargas’s bored high schooler, Jessy, finds purpose endlessly pursuing the best cell-phone signal, while Josh makes friends with Cam and James’s niece, Faith, the ticket to back areas of the store. They share Josh’s affinity for detective work and are quickly engulfed in a mystery when, while exploring the store’s dusty basement, they happen upon a 60-year-old note revealing a “secret door.” After pondering this, they realize the right thing to do would be to find the writer and return the letter. They are subsequently led to an old home, a cemetery and a backwoods path to the hiding place of the secret door, where they are stopped in their tracks. Even Josh’s bag of techno tricks can’t free them from their ensuing predicament!
The clear message of the value of helping others and giving sacrificially is the through-line of The Mysterious Note. The true profit from living according to God’s principles is evident as we see how James interacts with others and puts people first. On the other hand, the myopic can’t see that far and Vargas has a tough time stretching his vision. But after James altruistically affects his life and family, Vargas shows hope of higher thinking.
This simple film is easy to watch, sprinkled with humor, communicating a good, basic message. Novice actors usually have a detectable acting style, but quickly into this film, the story overrides, and the actors successfully convey thematic points. Advocating non-denominational Christian principles, the movie specifically promotes praying, honoring God and practicing overall godly stewardship. The production values are quite nice, although editing seems slow at times; sets and locations are pleasant and homey. This is a wonderful film to interest all ages of the family and Dove awards it the All Ages Seal.
What to talk about:
This film has a sincere message of living out God’s principles. Society’s definition of profit and success are quite different than Christ’s. We are truly fed when we experience eternal rewards, not just monetary. Prayer is a player in the film.
The Dove Take:
This story of an unexpected stay in a small backwoods town brings a message of true stewardship.