by Todd Pearage and David Smith
Rated PG-13 for some violence and drug content.
Starring Alex Kendrick, Kevin Downes, Ken Bevel, Ben Davies and Rusty Martin
Directed by Alex Kendrick (Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Flywheel)
Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy
David's Rating: Theatre Worthy
For a low budget film, Courageous packed a powerful message.
Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes (and their partners), are confident and focused. They willingly stand up to the worst the streets have to offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, but their children are beginning to drift further and further away from them. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those that are most dear to them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God … and to their children?
DAVID’S WORD: So, the movie Courageous opened across the country this past weekend. It’s a “Christian film” produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA that also released Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. First things first: since I only recently watched Fireproof, I was a little leery to go see Courageous because of the weak acting in that movie. However, I’m happy to say that I didn’t see any “cheese” that can often accompany small budget Christian films…that are also staffed with actors you’ve never heard of. But, since I’m not the resident “movie guy,” I will defer to your trained eye. Did you see any?
TODD’S WORD: You know David, the hard things about films like this are that they come with extra cheese. But for some reason I find myself being willing to overlook it because the story is so powerful.
So let’s look at some of the cheese and then we’ll jump in to all the good stuff.
Javier and Carmen Martinez are supposed to be two of the most likeable characters in the film. But they try way too hard and deliver one cliché after another – which was extremely annoying.
And they are not the only ones guilty of overloading us with cliché performances. Whether it’s mourning the loss of a family member or living with regret, we hear and see what we have seen and heard a million times.
I do have one last criticism. The end of the film is a 10 minute sermon. And while it is a good sermon, I think it is lazy film making when you need to “preach” the message instead of allowing me and the rest of the audience to experience the message. I wish they would have worked harder…because the message was AWESOME!
DAVID’S WORD: I’m with you, the movie is loaded with Jesus-y stuff. It’s “God this” and “God that” in lots of different scenes. In fact, my wife (uncritically) walked away with that as her main reflection on the movie. And while this movie doesn’t have a scene where the main character gives their life to Christ on camera, we’re shown that one character does become a Christian (off camera). Beyond that, a few of the main characters are returning cast members from Fireproof. But, hey any fan of Adam Sandler flicks clearly won’t have a problem with that! ?
TODD’S WORD: Actually it was a little harder for me to “get into” this film. I am a HUGE fan of Alex Kendrick and what he has done with Sherwood Pictures, but seeing him in this role is almost exactly like seeing him in his other roles…unlike Sandler and some of his friends. But once I got past that I thought he delivered a pretty decent performance.
DAVID’S WORD: Here’s what I loved about the movie: it got me setting on the edge of my seat in the first 38 seconds. Kicking off a “cop movie” with a great action scene in the opening moments is never a bad thing. Second, there were some elements in this film that came from what I’ll call “really real life.” This isn’t the “happy-go-lucky” Facing the Giants movie where everything works out perfectly in the end.
TODD’S WORD: Generally we throw out a SPOILER ALERT before we give away stuff like that. But anyway…
DAVID’S WORD: Yeah anyway…this movie’s humor was as good as anything Hollywood puts out. That scene in the back seat of the squad car had me blowing snot I was howling so hard! Finally, I’ve got to speak positively about the strong family and faith values that this film endeavored to uphold.
TODD’s WORD: Did you just say you were blowing snot? Again a SPOILER ALERT would have been nice.
Seriously, I’m with you. There were some good laugh-out -loud moments – which is pretty typical of Kendrick’s films. You’ll be fighting back tears one minute and laughing your guts out the next…or blowing snot if you are David.
DAVID’S WORD: Nice.
TODD’S WORD: All that being said, I think every dad in America should see this movie.
DAVID’S WORD: Todd, I agree. You cannot go to this movie as a father and not feel challenged…at least a little. Notice I didn’t say “a Christian father,” I just said father. I can say that because my wife and I took along a married couple who are both teachers, who are parents of a little girl (with one on the way), and who are not believers. In one regard, Todd, “Rick” is a lot like you: he’s a big, manly guy who loves football. In fact, he even coaches high school football!
TODD’S WORD: You forgot handsome!!
DAVID’S WORD: Whatever…back to my story. That whole day I prayed for him and his wife, and even during the movie, I prayed for them. Back at our home that night, “Rick” told me that he was wiping away tears because of what he saw. That really opened up some doors for conversation about spiritual matters.
TODD’S WORD: That is awesome and after seeing the film I get why men all over the country are experiencing the same thing. Although there is EXTRA CHEESE…I’m stilling giving it a Theater Worthy.
DAVID’S WORD: I’m going with a Theater Worthy rating, as well. Even though the film isn’t perfect, it can be used as a powerful tool in the lives of men who are mediocre fathers.
SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
Kids can see it…but every man needs to see it.
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
Q: What’s the message/theme of this movie?
A: The overarching message of this film is that men who are dads should take their roles very seriously. Fathers are responsible for their families in many ways: spiritually, emotionally, and relationally…not just economically. The film tries to move all men toward being better dads.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
A: We should take advantage of a movie with such a powerful message embedded in it. In addition to taking our friends to see it, we should discuss it with them. The bottom line is that we need to do exactly what this film says to do: take responsibility for our families.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?
A: Their “resolution” is a great creed by which to live. We have to give our families our best, not our leftovers. We cannot lead our families in a way that pleases God unless we put Him first.
Some easy takeaways from this film are to spend time with family members, have spiritual conversations with our kids, honor God by loving one another as Jesus loves us, and so on. You know, pretty much all those things that require…courage.
is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic.
Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But
Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor in
Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. Todd and his wife Lynda are both graduates of Philadelphia Biblical
University and have two children, Brianna and Caleb. Todd loves sports and movies and is always up for a good laugh.
He is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and his favorite movies include Braveheart and Tommy Boy. Todd's reviews
reflect his love for kids and for his family.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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