Wednesday, October 5, 2011
At the Movies -- Courageous
Number four at the box office over the weekend, this is the fourth major movie made by Sherwood Baptist Church. Their first three were Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. The productions are low budget (this one was $2 million, but the others were less than half that), but you wouldn't know that by the cinematography. The filming was great and the action scenes exciting. Most of the Sherwood Pictures actors have been volunteers from the church, but this film included some outside actors as well, people who were invited to audition.
In spite of being volunteer actors, I found the characters to be well-developed and well-played. I especially liked Javier, an out-of-work dad who was desperate for a job. He offered wonderful comic relief and added a great deal to the film.
The National Fatherhood Initiative has found that "kids who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents." This is a serious issue, and the need for fathers to step up to their responsibility is urgent. The message comes through loud and clear in Courageous.
That was the strength of the movie, and that was its weakness. For people in the church, this message is being well received. Men and women are seeing the film and facing the reality of the need to be more present as parents (especially fathers) and to lead their children in the faith. But I think folks who are not followers of Christ will find the film to be preachy and that will put them off. I've read many reviews of the film and the comments those reviews inspire, which reflect my thoughts. It seems that there must be a way to tell this story, raise this concern, that will not alienate non-church folk.
How to create art that is both Christian and winsome, that speaks to the church while presenting the message to those who are outside the church in a way to draws them in -- this is the great challenge. More about that on Friday.