Sandra Bullock dominates this film, this is her movie-- as the believing Christian who tries and succeeds in turning a young rather hopeless black boy's life around.
Some people have complained that the movie is too much about her character to the detriment of everything else, but that didn't bother me--- nor did the happy ending. Also, I was relieved they didn't make a big deal of her religious beliefs.
The cast is uniformly good and includes Cathy Bates as an eccentric tutor ( you will remember her from "Misery") plus Tim McGraw as Sandra Bullock's husband. The violence in the story is all organic to the plot and is not overdone. Nice job of movie-making for the holidays!