Movie review: ‘In-Lawfully Yours’ starring Marilu Henner, Chelsey Crisp, and Joe Williams

September 14, 2017

“In-Lawfully Yours” (PG) reviewed by Jennifer Anne F. Messing.

When an a unchurched city girl, Jesse (played by Chelsey Crisp) meets a small-town, widowed pastor, Ben (Joe Williamson), their unlikely friendship shakes things up in a church where things have been done the same way for years and years. In-Lawfully Yours is an upbeat, family-friendly film about a modern woman searching for life's deeper meaning after experiencing heartbreaking tragedy.

Following a divorce and the death of her father-in-law, Jesse, a native New Yorker, decides to move to quaint and homey Bethel Cove, to live with her widowed and now former mother-in-law, Naomi (played by Marilu Henner). With a heart of love and compassion, Jesse offers her companionship and help with getting her home ready to sell. Naomi's son-in-law, Pastor Ben, had been married to Naomi's daughter until her passing six years earlier. He has always remained close to his mother-in-law.

A few days after the funeral, Naomi's son, Chaz (Philip Boyd), who is Jesse's ex-husband, invites Naomi to live with him in New York. Though it sounds like a great idea, it quickly becomes apparent to Jesse and Ben that it won't be so easy to uproot Naomi from the home she'd lived in for 40 years with her husband, and where they'd raised their family. So they attempt to convince Naomi to delay moving, to give herself more time to think and plan. As the weeks pass by, the connection between Jesse and Ben grows into something deeper—creating complications in the family's relationships as well as in the church. Soon Jesse must decide if Bethel Cove is where she really belongs—or is it somewhere else?

In-Lawfully Yours is an entertaining and funny movie. Though written and dramatized in a light-hearted manner, it speaks to a number of deeper themes, including: the sanctity of marriage, divorce, remarriage, winning souls to Christ, church politics, widowhood, family loyalty, and new beginnings.

In Nehemiah 9:17, we read, "You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." From beginning to end, In-Lawfully Yours realistically portrays the main characters's lives, struggles, and conversations. In them, the deep love of God for His church and the lost is very apparent. The lead players, Chelsey Crisp and Ben Williamson are enjoyable to watch and sweetly convincing in many scenes. Marilu Henner is perfectly cast as Naomi and delivers an unbeatable support role performance.

I highly recommend this film for family viewing, with kids ages 12 and up. This engaging and inspirational, 2016 movie production from Regent Films and Home Theater Films will, at various times make you laugh and cry; feel shocked, bewildered, amused, or happy! Check out In-Lawfully Yours. You won't be disappointed.


Movie trailer: 'In-Lawfully Yours' (2016) stars Chelsey Crisp and Ben Williamson.

Comedy/Romance/Inspirational. PG. Check your favorite online streaming service, movie rental source, or the public library for availability.

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Portland, Oregon residents can borrow In-Lawfully Yours (2016) on DVD at the Multnomah County Library, tel. 503-988-5234.


Author, poet, columnist, and speaker JENNIFER ANNE FABREGAS MESSING of Portland, Oregon, is a wife, and mother of three children. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Education and a diploma in Journalism and Short Story Writing. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, Jennifer Anne has over 200 articles, short stories, movie reviews, and poems published in 60 magazines and books, including: The Christian Journal, Evangel, LIVE, Standard, Bible Advocate, Christian Fiction Online and Nudges from God. Her latest book, EVERLASTING LOVE: Romantic Vignettes for a Woman's Heart is now available in trade paperback and e-book format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and Smashwords. Visit the BOOKS page of this website to order her books.

Copyrighted © 2017 by Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing. All rights reserved. Contact the author for reprint information. Email:

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