The definition of family is a hot-button topic these days. Google the word, and you’ll get more thoughts on the subject than ants at a picnic, with people debating what family is, whether it still matters, and whether anyone really cares.

Tim Sisarich, a broadcaster from New Zealand, cared enough to travel the world on an exploratory adventure to see how various cultures regard family, what makes families thrive, and what each one of us can do to strengthen what some consider the most elemental building block of culture.

Sisarich documents his journey in the film “Irreplaceable.” Produced by Focus on the Family and Fathom Events, the film comes to the East Valley for a May 6 screening at AMC Mesa Grande 24, Cinemark Mesa 16 at Mesa Riverview, and Ahwatukee’s AMC 24 movie theaters.

Sisarich, who chatted with GetOut over the phone, said it was obvious for him to address this explosive topic on a global rather than national scale because his home country of New Zealand is a cultural melting pot, bringing him into contact with people of multiple tribes, tongues and nations.

Because his goal was to examine not only Western issues, but family issues faced by indigenous and third-world cultures, including the impact of male abandonment and the devaluing of sex, marriage and children, it was natural for him to take a macro look at the topic. His journey brings him into contact with people on the street, academics, physicians, faith leaders and even incarcerated criminals.

“Society is just a reflection of people, and people are broken,” said Sisarich. “There’s no such thing as a perfect family. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to muddle our way through this.”

Sisarich’s attitude is gracious and understanding, but that wasn’t the attitude he had when he started the project.

“I’m a good dad and a good husband. I thought if everyone lived like Tim Sisarich, the world would be a better place,” he said.

But when Sisarich was forced to examine the wounds he suffered when his own father went to prison and emotionally checked out, the documentary became very raw and personal.

“God did something I wasn’t expecting,” Sisarich said. “He flipped me on my head and pulled my heart out. It actually became my story. It’s almost reality TV, with a man who starts out with an agenda and ends with an awakening. [It] changed me personally.”

That epiphany experience led Sisarich to conclude that redemptive cultural change is possible once people understand they are loved, created to be part of a family, and of inherent value to their society.

Some people haven’t liked that message and have protested the film, but Sisarich said he’s not sure how someone can protest something they haven’t seen. He said he’s happy to discuss the movie with detractors once they see it on May 6.

Parents should note that there are themes discussed in the film which may not be appropriate for young children.


What: A screening of the new movie “Irreplaceable”

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 6

Where: AMC Mesa Grande 24, Cinemark Mesa 16 at Mesa Riverview, and Ahwatukee’s AMC 24 movie theaters

Cost: $10.50-$12.50


• Contact writer: (480) 898-5629 or

Contact writer: (480) 898-5629 or ​

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