Synopsis / Major Character & Actors: Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story is a biographical made for TV movie about the world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Dr. Carson is played by Cuba Gooding Jr. Gooding, who won an Oscar for playing an over the top athlete, performs a complete transformation to play the studious and deliberate Ben Carson. Gooding pulls it off and proves his acting chops.
Strengths: Probably one of the most accurate true story films I’ve seen. No doubt this is because Ben Carson is still alive and could help keep it honest. There are no over the top theatrics meant to spice it up. And while Carson’s faith is obvious it doesn’t get preachy.
Weaknesses: Ironically the truthfulness of the story did hurt the overall pacing. Drama is so much easier when you can throw in stuff that never happened to speed it up. There just wasn’t enough conflict to keep it moving. It was never boring, but it never got very exciting either.
The film, while missing major conflict, also seems to move too quickly from plot point to plot point and doesn’t allow the lessons and truths to sink in. I can’t help but wonder if there were additional scenes that were cut to get it down to a brisk 90 minutes. A rarity for films where most films tend to go on too long, is that this film could use an additional 10 minutes.
Recommendation: Gifted Hands is definitely a great movie to own, show to your older children (surgery scenes may scare younger viewers) and discuss with them. As a teacher I’m already thinking of ways I could work this into my curriculum so I could show it to my 6th graders. The message of overcoming obstacles and persevering is one of my favorite to teach. But this movie doesn’t preach about perseverance, it shows us Carson’s perseverance and we’re inspired to think differently about our own destination.
Plot/Writing: 4 of 5 stars. Excellent biographical movie. Straightforward story wasn’t very confusing and hit on all of the major themes in Dr. Carson’s life.
Acting: 5 of 5 stars. These are quality actors who make us forget they’re acting.
Production Quality: 4 of 5 stars. High production quality. It was a made for TV movie so don’t expect car chases or explosions. Otherwise very solidly built.
Redemptive Qualities: 5 of 5 starts. Great messages illustrated by the life of Ben Carson and his mother, Sonya. More stories like these need to be presented to every American student. Minorities and economically disadvantaged would be especially well served to witness the life of someone who came from the same circumstances and succeeds because of his mothers encouragement and his choices.
Objectionable Material / Warning: Surgery scenes where blood, brain matter and skull plates are cut and moved about. It wasn’t overdone but this is a film about a brain surgeon so avoiding this would have been dishonest.
Final Thoughts: Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story is not a theatrical film. It wasn’t released in the theaters. It was first shown on the cable television station TNT. Someone, somewhere was asleep at the wheel and missed a great opportunity to develop it just a bit more and release it to theaters nationally. The story is great, the actors saw the potential and TNT hit a grand slam. The shame is that such a gem missed the showing it deserved while polished clay is given front stage at the nation’s theaters. As far as for viewers this is a great film, don’t miss it.
You Can buy Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story at FamilyChristianMovies.com