Most folks here know that American Boy and I went to see the movie I Can Only Imagine last night. All I can say is WOW.
While I know CarFan and others would look at it more critically the way movie critics are supposed to, most movies I go to these days are either based on true to life stories, biographies or historical events, and many times I see the messages behind the stories, so I look at them a little more emotionally than critically.
It was totally this way with this movie, but that aside, it was an excellent movie and the story behind the hit song is as old as the Rugged Cross- because it was about redemption and transformation more than anything else. I won’t give it away because a) I know folks will see this either in the theater or on DVD when it comes out and b) because I’m not good at giving a review lol.
But I do want to relate the story behind the guy who played Bart Millard, the singer/songwriter for Mercy Me- J. Michael Finley.
If his name isn’t familiar to you, don’t worry, it wasn’t to me, and he (until now) is an unknown in the movie industry as his start was in live theater in New York.
I heard an interview with his dad and a local DJ on our way to see the movie, and the story of how J. Michael came to this place to star in this movie is as inspiring as the movie. His dad is a pastor from Missouri, and related the story of how J. Michael called him from New York to tell him he auditioned for a movie playing Bart Millard. His dad was like, who is Bart Millard?
“Oh come on dad, he’s the singer for Mercy Me…”
“Who is Mercy Me?”
“Don’t you know the song I Can Only Imagine?”
“Oh! I know that song!”
One of the things about Bart and his dad, after his dad was dying, he wanted to leave some money to help Bart work on his music and follow his dream, so he arranged for his assets to be given in a monthly check stipend to help Bart along- and the last month of the last payment is when the song hit the charts and really put Mercy Me on the map.
J. Michael’s dream was to act. His dad being a small town pastor, didn’t have a lot of money to pay his son’s way through school, but he did promise he’d help him through the first year, and hopefully help put him through- but at the end of the year he told J. Michael, that there just wasn’t enough money to pay for the 2nd year. J. Michael was disappointed, but understood and appreciated all his dad’s help and sacrifice for the first year. During the time he was in school, his brother was deployed to Afghanistan. He was killed over there.
He wasn’t married, so he left his policy and money to his parents, and they used that money to pay for the rest of J. Michael’s schooling. If it weren’t for his brother’s sacrifice, J. Michael wouldn’t have been able to realize his dream of being an actor, and never would have had the chance to audition for the part of I Can Only Imagine…
This guy is a fantastic actor who gave so much to the part that he really was Bart Millard.
Mercy Me, this is an amazing story and the way God worked in their lives is such an incredible thing, because His message has brought millions to know His love through a simple song…
Dennis Quaid plays the part of Bart’s dad in the movie, and wow he did a great job- you hated him, but then later just loved him as Jesus did- as Jesus loves all of us. As sinners needing a savior, and because of His grace and mercy he is redeemed.
He had this song started years ago, but playing the part in this movie brought him back to his roots, and finally found the piece that was missing. He finished the song, and sent it to his mother for her birthday. What a perfect gift for a mom, to know her child is….
Seeing the story behind the song gives so much more insight into many songs by Mercy Me and explains what makes them such an amazing band. I really hope you guys see this movie. It is so good. It also stars Cloris Leachman and Trace Adkins.
Have a blessed Saturday all!