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‘Elephant Sighs’ ~ CFDb Review


A Life-Affirming Comedy of Faith! Based on the Hit Play, Starring Ed Asner and John Cariani.

After moving to a small, rural town, uptight Joel Bixby, is invited by an agreeable new acquaintance to join a group of townsmen who meet in a ramshackle room at the edge of town.

Normally a loner, Joel finds himself enamored by boisterous, fast food connoisseur Leo Applegatep and reluctantly agrees to go.

Unknowingly the “replacement” for a beloved member who recently passed away, Joel meets the group’s other surviving members and is swept up in their strange lives, but struggles with their secretive purpose for gathering … until he realizes each of them is as lost as himself.

Gleeful Dink Jack Kehler, who deeply loves his bald wife, is “in touch” with his feminine side; Perry, a former minister, is suffering a crisis of faith; and volatile Nick, who lost his job and family, also seeks a miracle.

As the men grapple with their worries and unraveling lives, Joel finally learns their mysterious purpose.

(Special family friendly edition for the Christian market includes a printable study guide, “Biblical Perspectives,” for Sunday school classes, fellowship groups and Christian book clubs.)


Watch the Film Trailer


This is not my normal type of Christian film that I like because there wasn’t any real obvious Christianity in it.  Even though I made that first statement, this is the type of movie that stays with you long after it’s over.  It leads you to really think about what they were trying to say.  There were some real great moments in this film that we enjoyed, in between the scenes where it left us just wondering…

So, long after the film was over we got into more of a discussion about it and determined that there was WAY more to this film than you first catch onto.

There is one section where the former pastor is talking about what he went through on a continual basis and I’m sure there was a WHOLE lot of truth to what he was saying.  It made me have a newfound respect for pastors.


So, it’s hard not to pick Ed Asner as the favorite in this movie.  He’s such an amazing actor.  There is one scene in particular, towards the end when he talks about the elephant sighs.  This was the most significant part of the entire movie for us.  What a powerful scene!  You’ll have to see it to completely understand.

I don’t like to give spoilers so I want to just add that after the film was over, Roger & I discussed who Ed Asner was really supposed to be in this film.  Watch the movie, think about it awhile, and let us know what you think.


To Purchase the FILM BASED BOOK

To RENT on Netflix

This is NOT available to rent yet on Netflix but if you click on the link and add it to your queue, it will be available sooner!

1 Comment

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  1. Carole Stoneking says
    30 July 12, 5:54am

    ELEPHANT SIGHS: A Theological Perspective

    “Writer/Director Ed Simpson’s Elephant Sighs is a moving exploration of friendship, loneliness, and death. In a world that shuns vulnerability and forced or unforced dependency, it is refreshing to discover a film that illuminates the very practices that sustain friendship even in the face of death. And while Elephant Sighs is not explicitly theological, the film provides a narrative of friendship that Christians will find thought provoking and engaging.

    “Modern life confronts us both with the difficulties of sustaining friendship and the hazards of failing to do so. Elephant Sighs story of friendship resonates with Christian accounts, understanding that our lives are gifts, not achievements. Elephant Sighs suggests we become truly ourselves when entangled and succored in close friendships that are less about doing, than about being.

    “Why is this important? It is important because for Christians, friendship with God happens through human friendships. As fellow creatures of God, we are all vulnerable, we all need help. It is entanglement with the visibly vulnerable others that reminds us, we are not our own creators.

    “Rather we are creatures “caught in time”; the span from birth to death is short and inexorable. Christians believe, though, that our being made part of God’s life transforms time from threat to gift. To learn this lesson we must find ways to avoid isolation, we must find ways to stand in tension with the culture of modernity, we must find ways to live by wisdom and friendship.

    “Simpson shows us such a way. He shows us that friendship cannot exist without grace, and by grace, though we die, we can be happily remembered…and so the elephant sighs.

    “I enthusiastically commend Elephant Sighs to you.

    “It is a film with a great good heart, and an old, old soul.”

    Rev. Carole Bailey Stoneking, MDiv, PhD

    As our friends move away or die, we lose the confirmation of our own life stories and identities. As life and time takes it toll, we are not even sure that we are still the same people we were. The face that stares back at us from mirror just does not seem to be our face. So we are alienated, not only from others but also from ourselves. How do we become and remain friends with ourselves and with one another, when so many forces work against friendship?

    Simpson understands and his film makes clear that friendship is itself a gift. Friends help us live into our own stories-they call upon us to be friends to one another in particular ways, to give and receive service to each other, to offer correction when appropriate, to be patient, and most especially, to be present. This stands in stark contrast to the modern desire for autonomy, a cultural standard imposed with a special naked cruelty onto men, who are still taught from a very young age that one need not live so as to be a consolation to an other, one ought not be a burden, and the sum of one’s life is the sum of one’s achievements.

    It is important to note that Elephant Sighs also demonstrates that the limit of friendship is not death, but sin. Friendship is not a hedge against death. One of the main characters of the film, Walter, is dead, and yet his friendship with those now present is critical. Telling Walter’s story well, shapes and renews the friendships of those now present, making them a part of one another in a more determinative way than biology could ever do. Just as the church offers an covenanted alternative to contract,

    and that friendship is a…resource to start us on the journey through which we become what we were created to be.

    . Acknowledgement of difference is important in any friendship, lest we merely project our self-image onto the other in a way that friendship disintegrates into narcissism. In our relationship with God, the difference is infinite.

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