My Netflix Movie Recruitment: The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

December 9, 2010


Netflix kept “recommending” this movie called The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, based on other movies I liked. The cover of the DVD didn’t catch my eye at first. It has a photo of a smiling old guy (Gavin McLeod) with a bunch of boys. Maybe it was a movie about fishing or skateboarding. *yawn* I usually don’t pay attention to the Netflix “suggestions” (more like recruitments to me!). But then I noticed that the movie was done by Rich Cristiano, the same guy who made Time Changer, a really great move. So I clicked on “Play” and waited.

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry is one of the most touching movies I’ve ever seen.

The year is 1970 (remember then?). Things were slower and simpler, kids had more freedom, and elderly neighbors could freely invite the local boys in for a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. The movie begins with the three main characters– Dustin, Albert, and Mark. It’s summer vacation, and they have a lot of free time on their hands. Their thoughts are filled with fishing exploits, asking out the girls, and fending off the local bully, Nick. Dustin meets Mr. Sperry, whose kindness attracts the boys. Mr. Sperry starts a small Bible group with the boys, which soon grows. Through the movie, you follow the lives of the boys during that summer, how they bloom into responsible young men. Mr. Sperry also connects Dustin (the neighborhood kid who mows the lawns, partially by the recruitment of his mother) with the reclusive curmudgeon, Mr. Barnes (played by Robert Guillaume), whose history comes out later in the movie.

I won’t spill the beans, but there are a lot of twists and turns throughout the story (mirroring life). Be ready with some Kleenex, though– I bawled my eyes out when… well, I can’t tell you. It’s just heart-breaking. And you literally feel the boys’ hearts break, too.

The movie is slow-paced, like Time Changer. The dialogue is relaxed, the scenes very comfortable and almost lazy. It makes you think that you are on summer vacation with the boys, things are so relaxed!

Gavin McLeod does a fabulous job as Mr. Sperry, and the young actors Jansen Panettiere (as Dustin), Frankie Ryan Manriquez (as Albert), and Allen Isaacson (as Mark) are exceptional. Where did they find such great kid actors, hard to believe it was through some kind of recruitment agencies. You never think they are acting– it just really, really seems like it’s back in 1970. I was really impressed with Frankie Ryan Manriquez, he was superb.

My kids watched it twice, they like it so much. You can check out the website The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry. It’s a wonderful family movie!

, , , ,

6 Responses to “My Netflix Movie Recruitment: The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry”

  1. Rena Says:

    The past year or so I have been wanting to try things that I normally would not try. Isn’t it awesome when you do try something and it turns out great!!

    Thanks for the review. I don’t have Netflix but we are thinking of getting it back again. I will have to remember to add this one to my list!

    Do you plan on continuing to try the “recommendations” or not going to push your luck? lol

  2. imnotatrophywife Says:

    We love netflix. thanks for the movie suggestion. I have two boys and an approaching 2 week Christmas break. Great idea! I was taking a picture of some cookies for my blog and my son said, “really mom?”
    LOL laura

    • Rebecca Says:

      I will probably be canceling Netflix soon. They just raised their rates to $10/mo for DVD rental and streaming. Otherwise, it’s $8 for just streaming. Honestly, the selection at Netflix is poor for the amount of money it costs. I’ve not been very happy with most of their suggestions. I’m thinking of going to They don’t do streaming, just DVDs, but the selection is better– definitely more educational and wholesome.

  3. Rena Says:

    I never heard of ChristianCinema but just checked it out, thanks for the tip Becky.

  4. guitarzan Says:

    I’ve also seen, and recommend, this very good movie. I liked it immensely, but be prepared for something different than what we’ve grown used to at the movies. For one thing, It is VERY slow, kind of like what Rebecca said – it’s like being on summer vacation along with the boys. But I think the director did it to show how much simpler things were just 40 years ago. And to throw in a bit of culture shock, too. Watching the movie made me think of how the same circumstances occurring in today’s culture would be viewed. For instance, when the boys are invited into the older man’s home for lemonade on a hot day, they actually go in without much hesitation. I don’t see that happening today. And I don’t see groups of young kids spontaneously having a Bible study group, either. And the innocence of the boys and girls interactions is also remarkable. I think the director intended these things. I don’t know if this movie is an accurate representation of small-town America in 1970 or not, but if it is, one thing this movie shows is just how quickly our culture has degraded.


  1. Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun Blog Hop – Week 6 | Freaky Frugalite - October 17, 2012

    […] Secrets of Jonathan Sperry. I reviewed it, here. It’s a simple movie, no flailings or intense emoting. But when Mr. Sperry– oh, I […]