Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW: Irreplaceable – What is family?

Documentary
104 min / 2015
RATING: 8/10

Everyone knows something is wrong with the family these days. But what?

For this Focus on the Family production, Tim Sisarich traveled all over the world to answer this question. He spoke to experts, interviewed prisoners, ordinary parents, and many others, and shared his own story as he searched for an answer. Irreplaceable, the resulting documentary, starts with the basic question, “What is family?”

From Eric Metaxas to Nancy Pearcey, from John Stonestreet to Michael Medved, respected experts are given the floor. They discuss:

  • the importance of family from ancient Greek times to today
  • the hollowness and pressures of the hook-up culture
  • the good news about marriage, and how hope and a few simple tools can transform bad marriages,
  • the importance of parenthood,
  • how children are treated as objects and commodities worldwide
  • and the incalculable influence of fathers

Speaking of fathers, it turns out that there is a common denominator among troubled youth. Most high school dropouts, pregnant teen moms, homeless children, youth suicides, and youth in prison come from fatherless homes.

At this point in the film, Tim Sisarich stops focusing on experts and turn to stories, his own first of all, and then those of others. Sisarich, himself a father of five, speaks sadly of seeing so very many disturbing examples of fatherhood that his only response was to say, “I don’t know where to put that.” But he keeps on searching for answers, speaking to convicts, to parents of a Down’s syndrome child, to a foster parent of many, and to those who have been prodigals.

Irreplaceable is both fact-filled and compelling, with a straightforward moral to this story: if we devalue sex, we will devalue marriage, and if we devalue marriage we will devalue the role of parents, and if we devalue the parenting role, we will devalue children.

It is easy to look at the world and see the devastation such attitudes have caused. As we watch the movie, however, we realize that there is no call to point fingers at others; we, too, fall far short of God’s plan for our families and ourselves.

In realizing this we, with Sisarich, can turn to our heavenly Father, remembering the gospel. He will certainly forgive us when we return to Him, whether we have sinned like the prodigal son in going astray, or sinned in not showing love and forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.

Anyone interested in understanding the family, our culture, and how to make an impact will appreciate this documentary and the accompanying panel discussion. For example, the panel discussion points out how lost most people feel. There is a huge opportunity, we are told, for the church to work out, practically, what it means to love God, each other, and society so that people will say, “Ah, they really care about me! Can I have some of that?”

There is one noteworthy caution: because of the subject matter and some images in the section on the hookup culture, Irreplaceable is recommended for age 15 and older.

Although there are a few uncomfortable viewing moments, it is good for adults to understand what today’s young people are up against and for young people to realize, from research as well as God’s Word, how hollow an ungodly lifestyle really feels.

There are other DVDs that share this name, so the best way to find may be to search for “Focus on the Family Irreplaceable.”

Annie Kate Aarnouste reviews many other movies, and books, and homeschool curriculum options, at her blog Tea Time with Annie Kate.


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