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Review: Irreplaceable: What is Family?


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

Tim Sisarich travelled 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 pressure 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.

In fact, the majority of youth represented by statistics about high school drop outs, teen pregnancy, behavior disorders, homeless children, youth suicides, and youth in prison—the vast majority of them—come from fatherless homes.

At this point 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 such disturbing aspects of fatherhood that he can only say, “I don’t know where to put that.”   But he struggles to understand as he speaks to convicts, parents of a Down’s syndrome child, a foster parent, and those who have been prodigals.

In the process we, too, come to the central image of the prodigal son and see the goodness of the heavenly Father who loves and gives unconditionally.  Then we realize that, though we are like the prodigal son, we are called to be like the Father as well.  Only he is truly Irreplaceable, and in his goodness he will forgive us when we return to him.

This documentary is fact-filled yet compelling, and in many ways it is an excellent discussion of the family.  It discusses society and the gospel, and points to a solution, both in the film itself and in the supporting materials.

But it is not perfect.  Although it lays a lot of blame on men who abdicate their roles as fathers, it does not address the contributing ideology of feminism.  Although God has designed the family to be the fundamental building block of human society, yet it is not an end in itself.  Rather it is means to the greater goal of glorifying God through the creation mandate (to develop the world and a civilization for him) and the great commission (to bring people back to God).  No, this documentary is not complete but, as my husband reminds me, not everything can be said in a single documentary, and it needn’t be.

To sum up, Irreplaceable is both fact-filled and compelling, with a down-to-earth story line:  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.   The movie’s quality is excellent in all respects, and Sisarich is a talented host; I wept both times when I watched him share his own story.  He tells more of his story during the extra material included on the DVD, and there he also points out how lost most people feel.  There is a huge opportunity 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?”

Note:  Because of the subject matter and some images, Irreplaceable is recommended for age 15 and older.

For more information see the website or watch the trailer below.  Do note that this trailer was for the movie when it was shown in theatres, but it represents the DVD well.

The Family Project from Focus on the Family is a related 12-week study including DVDs, a participant’s guide, and a leader’s guide, that explores into these topics in more depth.  I have not seen it, but if it is anything like Irreplaceable it will be worthwhile.

Over the years I have written several reviews and blog posts on the topics mentioned in Irreplaceable, and I recommend the resources listed below.

Jonathan McKee’s books, More than Just the Talk (for parents) and S-x Matters (for youth).

An annotated list of nine helpful marriage books, including one that gives the correct—and very hopeful—statistics about marriage and another that gives easy-to-implement habits of happily married couples.

The importance of opposing abortion for babies, moms, and society.

Douglas Wilson’s book Father Hunger that addresses a major theme of Irreplaceable.

Marrried Mom, Solo Parent, a practical and encouraging resource for moms whose husbands are, for whatever reason, absent.

For more encouragement see Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell it to Me Tuesday.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this DVD from Focus on the Family and am not compensated for this review.


  1. Jedidja says:

    Dank je wel. Ik wilde tijd nemen voor al jouw links.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I ordered it yesterday! Thanks again for all the lovely suggestions.

  3. Annie Kate says:

    You are welcome, ladies!

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