NOTE: Mully is in theaters this Tuesday-through-Thursday ONLY as a three-night Fathom Event, October 3-4-5, 2017. Click here for tickets and participating theaters. UPDATE: There will be an encore showing of Mully in theaters on Thursday, November 9.
Mully is the rare sort of documentary which shakes its viewers into action. Through inspiration and honesty, it reminds us that no real change can be effected without faith, bravery and hard work. If we hope to build a better world, we must first learn to love our neighbor. 4 out of 5.
Mully chronicles the remarkable true story of Dr. Charles Mully, a celebrated social entrepreneur and founder of Mully Children's Family (MCF). Abandoned when he was only six-years-old, Mully survived as a beggar in rural Kenya before eventually securing work in a nearby city. As time passed, Mully grew into a major business tycoon, building several companies and amassing wealth beyond his wildest dreams. He had everything he ever wanted: a large family, an expensive house, and more money than he knew what to do with. Then one night, God asked him to give it all away.
Moved by the plight of local orphans, Mully set out to create a home where these children could be sheltered, educated and loved. Though the effort cost him his fortune, what followed can only be described as miraculous. The seeds of hope planted by Mully and his family have since gone on to change the lives of an entire generation.
Mully is a surprisingly multi-layered documentary, and there's much about the film which instantly hooks viewers. For starters, everybody loves a good rags-to-riches story, and it feels nice to watch Mully grow from a street beggar into one of Kenya's leading businessmen. Despite its encouraging undertone though, Mully isn't afraid to explore the harsh realities which accompany selfless giving. Audiences will applaud Mully as he sacrifices his wealth to help orphans, but they'll also empathize with his wife and family who expressed anxiety over turning their home into an orphanage. There is even a profound moment where several of Mully's children recall how they resented their father, because he appeared to care more about the street children than he did about them.
This brutal, unfiltered honesty is what makes Mully so refreshing. It doesn't sugarcoat the journey, and demonstrates how even good deeds can have collateral damage. Thankfully, these bitter moments only ensure the happy ones are all the sweeter. Apart from the emotional rollercoaster, the documentary challenges its audience to go out and do something. Donating money is well and good, but what can you personally do for your community? There's a high value on hard work and self-reliance throughout the film, to the extent that audiences may find themselves picking up garbage or starting a food drive hours after leaving the theater.
Very little, to be honest. The movie can feel unbalanced at times, as though significant events were left out to cut down on time. It would also have been nice to hear more from the MCF children themselves. A few are given brief opportunities to share their stories, but not enough to satisfy curious moviegoers. Lastly, thought Mully and his children do eventually reconcile, much of that process is never revealed.
God has played a significant role in Dr. Mully's life, and has a major presence throughout the film. Mully recounts how during his time as a street child he contemplated suicide, but was saved (both physically and spiritually) when a pastor invited him to church. This spiritual awakening was what prompted him to find a job in the city, sparking his meteoric rise. Later, God convicted him about the suffering of children in the city, and led Mully to exit the world of business for a life of philanthropy. There are even several instances when God provides miracles in the form of food, water and donations.
Still, Mully isn't afraid to show religion's faults. Several church leaders turned on Mully when he started accepting orphans into his home. Though he eventually reconciled with these elders, much of his work was done against their wishes. A scene where a sick boy dies despite Mully's prayers is depicted as well. Though tragic, this scene allows the movie to accurately portray doubt alongside faith.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Christians, churches, families (but perhaps not those with small children); documentary fans; those looking for an encouraging story; people wanting to get involved in their community; viewers who love underdog stories.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Viewers who get restless during slow movies, small children; those who don't like documentaries.
Mully, directed by Scott Haze, opens in theaters as a three-night-only Fathom Event, October 3-4-5, 2017. It runs 100 minutes and is narrated by Dr. Charles Mully and his family. Watch the trailer for Mully here.
Ryan Duncan is Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: October 2, 2017
Image courtesy: ©ForGood