For its intended audience, “Let There Be Light” should prove an involving bonanza of conservative, Christian-centric ideals, mores and speechifying. For others, this often heavy-handed family affair, executive produced by
Director-star Kevin Sorbo brings puckish charm and credible warmth to his role as best-selling author Sol Harkens, a hard-partying New Yorker and celebrity atheist who split from devout wife Katy (real-life spouse Sam Sorbo, who co-wrote with Dan Gordon) after the death of their young son, Davey.
But when a car crash leaves Sol clinically dead for four minutes, he has a heavenly encounter with Davey, whose haunting message is "Let there be light." This drives Sol back toward his faith, into the arms of Katy and their surviving sons (Braeden and Shane Sorbo, Kevin and Sam's actual kids), and inspires a unique Christmas Eve light show with global reach. Unfortunately, another grave challenge awaits the Harkenses.
Despite frequent self-seriousness, a melodramatic third act and a seeming fixation with Islamic State, this unevenly acted, Alabama-shot film is not without its stabs at humor. That is, if you're amused by Sol's crass, foppish agent (Daniel Roebuck); a mobster-turned-pastor (Michael Franzese) who says "bada bing"; or a sideways swipe at Bill Maher's height.
A high point: a lovely cameo by singer Dionne Warwick.
‘Let There Be Light’
Rating: PG-13, for some thematic material including alcohol and drug issues.
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.
Playing: In limited release.