Kramer has a gift for succinct dialogue, while his pronounced directing skill seamlessly moves the narrative, giving the audience an engaging story. His adventure/drama quickly becomes involving, offering something for teens and adults alike.

As for the disfigured little ones seen in the film, though the filmmakers do not shirk from their responsibility, they handle the photographing of the afflicted children with taste and discretion. The children are not exploited nor will these scenes frighten off caring but squeamish audience members.

Then there is that something that sets this film apart from most. In this case, both the production company and the filmmakers give audiences an opportunity to help fellow planeteers. A portion of the film’s proceeds will go to Operation Smile. Every time someone sees this movie in theaters, they will help a child. Wow.

Now about the film’s PG-13 rating.

Executive producer Martin O’Neal, a born-again Christian and member of Perkinston (Miss.) Baptist Church, explained why Smile, which is devoid of crudity or abusive language, received a PG-13: “The reason given by the MPAA was that Katie has a decision to make regarding sex. Her boyfriend, played by Eric von Detten, is pressing her to have sex with him. There is some talk on the subject and there is a somewhat brief make-out scene in a truck. There is no nudity of any kind; however, the suggestion of the subject brought the rating.” Also in the film is a mother’s discussion of birth control pills with her daughter. Though some may be concerned with such content, the filmmakers felt the issue needed to be addressed and done so with discretion.

The motivation of O’Neal in his filmmaking becomes apparent as explains the name of his production company – Dark Forest.

“I wanted to tie my past and present work history, if you will, with my religious beliefs. I am a forester and graduated from Mississippi State in 1992 so I naturally like forest themes. I came up with the Dark Forest name at the same time I was trying to come up with my animated logo for the company,” he recounted. “The logo shows the viewer going through a dark forest. This dark forest represents the world we live in. As the viewer comes upon an opening in the forest we see a single ray of light penetrate the canopy. This light represents God’s revelation, mercy and love for mankind. The light illuminates a single lily. This lily is the ‘Lily of the Valley,’ who is Jesus Christ. So the theme is God shows mercy and love for us through his Son Jesus.”

"Smile" opens April 8 in Los Angeles and New York then gets a wider release throughout the month.

© 2005 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.