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Uplifting True Story Behind For King & Country

Uplifting True Story Behind For King & Country


  • Joel Smallbone plays his real-life dad, David, in
    Unsung Hero
    , wearing his dad’s jacket from 30 years ago.
  • Smallbone’s remarkable performance will floor you, along with the convincing supporting cast. A family of Aussies with Grammy winners.
  • Unsung Hero
    balances faith and grounded drama, exploring the Smallbone family’s struggles before achieving stardom. A heartwarming family flick.

In Unsung Hero, Joel Smallbone plays his own, real-life dad as he parents the child that would become, well, Joel. He even wears his dad’s authentic jacket during the film from 30 years ago. Take that, Hollywood multiverses! Smallbone’s remarkable turn as his dad, David, will simply floor you. The rest of the cast is pretty darn convincing, too.

It’s a family of Australians, and if you haven’t heard of the Smallbone family, maybe you’ve heard of either Rebecca St. James or the Christian pop duo for KING & COUNTRY. Said musical artists are biologically related — and both are Grammy winners, while we’re on the subject. Years earlier, they were economically struggling young kids whose jobless dad took the riskiest of risks in emigrating from Down Under to the U.S. with hopes of starting anew.

The rest is history, as one of the kids is ultimately discovered for having a remarkable singing voice. But the road to discovery isn’t always easy. When Unsung Hero doesn’t lean into occasional overt cheesiness, you might just have a grand ol’ time rooting for the Smallbone family on the big screen, especially if you’re surrounded by friends or family during the viewing experience. It exists in a similar vein as the terrific Ordinary Angels, which is equally emotional for a PG movie. A family-friendly double feature should be in order down the line, if you have enough tissues.

Unsung Hero poster

Unsung Hero


Release Date
April 26, 2024

Richard L. Ramsey , Joel Smallbone

Joel Smallbone , Richard L. Ramsey


  • Solid performances by Joel Smallbone and Daisy Betts
  • Supporting turns by Lucas Black and Kirrilee Berger also great
  • Not too heavy on faith-based

  • Falls into traditional family-friendly cinema tropes too often
  • Too heavy on cliched musical score, when thumping soundtrack isn’t involved

A Balance of Faith and Grounded Drama

Some terrifying movies have emerged out of Australia in recent months, such as You’ll Never Find Me and Monolith, but Unsung Hero is a far cry away from that kind of dark subject matter. The only scares here are the fear of failure. You don’t have to be an Aussie to relate to David’s palpable struggles of career woes and everything tied to finances.

You might wince at his wretched face when he returns home after a long day to an epic surprise birthday party thrown by his wife, seven kids (yes, seven), and his own parents (one of whom is played by Lost star Terry O’Quinn, donning a makeshift accent here). Oh, and the icing on the cake: Wife Helen (Chicago Fire star Daisy Betts) is pregnant! Gosh, what is David to do? Some of us can’t even afford to support one kid in this day and age, let alone almost 10.

Unsung Hero is being marketed as a faith-based film, but how you perceive religion shouldn’t be a dealbreaker in deciding which seat to fill at the cinema this weekend. The power of faith certainly plays its part in helping the Smallbone family hold on and never give up, but the movie succeeds by exploring the practical ways in which they get by before ultimately achieving stardom.


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Once they set up shop in a rundown house in rural America, for example, a chance run-in with neighbors leads to the Smallbones doing yardwork and cleaning homes for profit until David can re-establish himself as the somewhat successful music promoter he once was. One home they stumble upon for cleaning happens to belong to famed musician Eddie Degarmo (Jonathan Jackson), who David subtly keeps tabs on. Maybe one day, a business deal can blossom…

The Realities of Aiming High

But until then, the Smallbones visit the local church, where they meet priest Jed Albright (Friday Night Lights star Lucas Black, shining in a role he was born to play) and wife Kay (Full House star Candace Cameron Bure, certainly looking the part). This sort of local power couple will simply warm your heart — and then drive you mad, when the stubborn David often refuses their help by letting his pride get in the way. That includes when Helen finally gives birth and spawns a $6,000 hospital bill. Soon following is a remarkable scene where David gets in Jed’s face after learning Jed secretly paid the bill to help them out. It’s tense, grounded moments like these that help boost a traditional family flick.


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Unsung Hero also proves Joel Smallbone can carry a film, in addition to his successful real-life music career as one-half of for KING & COUNTRY. The film’s uplifting excitement kicks into high gear when Joel’s sister Rebecca (played well by young Australian-American actress Kirrilee Bergee) accidentally lets the community know that her singing voice is simply remarkable. Berger is a star in the making, with a real-life music career budding as well, and it’s gripping storytelling seeing her and dad David trying to navigate the U.S. music scene down South.

Another standout performance from Joel Smallbone comes when Rebecca is struggling to find representation, and David (played by Joel) is losing hope, so he tries to give his daughter a reality check by shouting “You will never be enough!” This is perhaps a manifestation of his failed dreams, something many of us can perhaps relate to. Sure, Unsung Hero is a family film, but it’s not all smooth sailing along the way. Yes, some corny cinematic tricks could have been dialed back, but Unsung Hero is an inspiring, harmless little song & dance.

From Lionsgate, Unsung Hero is now playing in theaters.

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