Unsung Hero

Unsung Hero: A Refreshing Film on the Strength of Family and Faith

23 May 2024

2.4 MINS

Releasing in theatres on 30 May, Unsung Hero is a refreshingly clean, compelling and drama-filled true-life film about resilience, family and faith. It also happens to be a thoroughly Australian story.

When David Smallbone’s successful Sydney-based music promotion company goes broke, he decides to move to the United States in search of another job.

But he doesn’t move alone.

Joining him is his wife, Helen (Daisy Betts), and his troop of young kids. 

Moving to the other side of the world with a pregnant wife and a small army of children might sound crazy, but how hard could it possibly be?


The family almost literally only have each other as they start their life from scratch on the other side of the world — sleeping on the floor in their new house until they can afford furniture. David (played by his son, for King & Country’s Joel Smallbone), Helen (Daisy Betts) and their children face all manner of obstacles as they seek to rebuild their lives in a foreign country.

The production quality of the film (at a budget of USD$6 million) is impressive — the filmmaking and cinematography were consistently high quality. Christian films appear to be performing increasingly well on this measure (given recent releases like Jesus Revolution, Journey to Bethlehem and The Chosen).

Unsurprisingly, given the involvement of for King & Country, Unsung Hero was artistically pleasing to watch.

Due to its quality — and the refreshing absence of cheesy Christianese scripting — Unsung Hero is suitable viewing for believers and nonbelievers alike. It is also a genuinely family-friendly movie — refreshingly free of crude or profane language and other inappropriate content.

Joel Smallbone has come into his own as an actor, with his impressive performance in Journey to Bethlehem last year, followed by his strong role as his own father in Unsung Hero, which also happens to be his directorial debut. (Joel has dubbed his role a “very expensive therapy session”.)

Joel Smallbone in Unsung Hero

Besides a couple of commendable but awkward attempts at an Aussie accent by American actors (credit for trying!), the acting didn’t interfere with the narrative for me. All of the children performed well in their respective roles.

That said, none of the performances struck me as outstanding either. The scriptwriting, cinematography, and real-life story were what made Unsung Hero a truly outstanding film.


The family’s personal story doesn’t appear to have been whitewashed in the film, either — although no doubt that temptation was there. It reveals challenges and failures alongside successes as the Smallbones encounter setback after setback.

Ultimately, the resilience of their Christian faith and their strong family bond get them through the tough times. 

And this is the true heart of Unsung Hero.

At a time when family and faith are routinely degraded and mocked in our culture, Unsung Hero unequivocally affirms both.

This is encapsulated in the line by David Smallbone’s father, which is a direct challenge to the mindset of modern Hollywood culture — “Your family are not in the way, they are the way.” Don’t tell your family to get out of the way of your dreams; lean on them to pursue your dreams together.

There is much more to be said about Unsung Hero, but I’ll let you see it for yourself and make up your own mind.

I highly recommend that you grab your family — and maybe a few friends — and head to the movies to check it out.

Unsung Hero launches in Australian cinemas on 30 May — and is scheduled to coincide with for King & Country’s Homecoming Tour.


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A post shared by Joel Smallbone (@joelsmallbone)

You can find cinema times and locations via the Faith Media website.

Images courtesy of Faith Media.

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  1. Warwick Marsh 24 May 2024 at 10:59 am - Reply

    I have seen this movie as an early professional reviewer and for what it is worth 1000% agree with everything Cody has said. His analysis is exceptional and highly accurate and honest to boot.
    UNSUNG HERO is a great movie not because any one part was great but all the parts were good or very good and so it is a truly great movie. The sum of the parts is always greater than the whole.

    As Cody said, “None of the performances struck me as outstanding either. The scriptwriting, cinematography, and real-life story were what made Unsung Hero a truly outstanding film.”

    I highly recommend you go and see this movie. It is well done, its inspirational, its faith filled, its enjoyable, its family friendly. It’s a true story, its Australian and its real! Go and see it. You will not be disappointed. I am highly critical of film and media in the sense it has to be good for me to recommend it.

    Most modern films are only fit for the sewer. Often family friendly movies are full of cringeful moments. Sadly, they are often badly produced. Budget is a big issue. The quality of this film for a relatively low 6-million-dollar budget is staggering. Most Hollywood blockbusters are sitting at an average of 100 Million dollars. When you critique films you have to compare apples with apples and not oranges.

    When it comes to film and media I do have some street cred. I have written 5 books. I have produced over 50 TV ads produced over a dozen documentaries and 500 YouTube videos. A documentary movie I produced in 2016 about the scourge of sexual abuse won 6 film awards.

    We had a great team and a great director. Those who testified and told their stories were the True Heros!!!! Watch it here: https://humblehope.org.au

    If I have any genius, I work with people who are much better than me. They make me look better than I am! LOL

    Let me repeat! This is a truly great family friendly and enjoyable film, and you cannot afford to miss it!

  2. Gail Petherick 12 June 2024 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks to Canberra Declaration and Cody for recommending this movie. My husband and I went to see it recently and thought it was awesome. The storyline is full of lessons in life, full of ‘real situations’ where one mistake in life has led to the husband not being able to find a job in Australia. The family though pull together and move to the USA of a promised job- only to meet with disappointment (basically it was a ‘kick in the teeth’) as again the husband’s mistake earlier led to his reputation being tarnished -seemingly for life
    The faith of the mother and father is demonstrated through incredible challenges but they enlist the children in a way that just ‘soars’. Before long the children have greater faith in some areas than the parents and God keeps answering their prayers…The family take up new innovative ways to work as ‘hired hands’ and the church they attend move into action to help as well behind the scenes.
    I was captured by the daughter’s voice which is pure and powerful; it rings through the cinema and melts hearts. (that is another story inside the story)
    I don’t want to give anyway any more details re the theme but recommend every one (young and old) see this film as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and lessons learnt during adversity; hard work, lessons on love and forgiveness and lessons in resilience. Above all it is a testimony to an active faith and love of God and family.
    Any family members or friends could see it who have no Christian background as its non-threatening. They will learn much about God ‘s love, love in a family, and how to pull together during times of suffering and how to thank Him and come out feeling the joy of knowing God is there for them personally.

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