Monday, March 05, 2007

I finally saw "Facing the Giants"...

and call me sentimental, but I liked it a lot

"There's no denying the show's amateurish acting. But the movie's strength is its true-to-life situations and wonderful dialogue. Here's a middle-class couple who barely can hang on, despite two jobs. The Taylors predicament is reflected in the households of millions of Americans who are one paycheck away from losing a car or not making a mortgage payment."--Linda Cook, Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa

I know, I'm late to the game (no pun intended). But I'm just now seeing Facing the Giants, after the girl's basketball team my husband coaches gave the DVD to him as an end-of-season gift.

In case you didn't know, "Facing the Giants" was made by a group of amateurs. It was written, directed, and produced by Alex Kendrick, who also plays the starring role.
Kendrick happens to be on staff at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. When, during a staff meeting, he voiced his dream of making Christian movies, the pastor surprised him by saying, "Why not?"

The result somewhat parallels the movie's story of a small, Christian-school football team going up against the "giants" of their football world. Only it's inexperienced, definitely out-of-the-industry-mainstream church members going up against the giants of Hollywood. And maybe they didn't quite sling the stone into the giant's head--ok, not at all-- but they did make a surprising little dent.

The movie has been soundly denounced by mainstream critics for its bad acting, predictability and cliches. But hey, I've seen those in plenty of Hollywood movies, too--and at least this one has an uplifting message!

Bad acting?

The Davenport, Iowa critic I quoted above--whose review was one of the few positive ones I found online--went on to say, "Why, oh, why, didn't the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., spend just a little money on talent coaches or even semi-professional actors? If they had, 'Facing the Giants' would be a high-quality movie that could hold its own with other feature films."

When my husband and I first started watching the movie, I did cringe a little at first. But as the movie went on, I got so caught up in the spirit and emotion it conveyed, I stopped being so critical.

And by the way, Alex Kendrick is not a bad actor. He did a very convincing job in several key emotional scenes.

My husband and I found plenty to relate to in the movie. He has been a Christian school teacher and coach, and now administrator, for nearly thirty years. When it comes to depicting a Christian school, the movie really rings true...right down to the sub-par salaries.

The message

What we found most compelling was the message. What if a group of athletes decided that their sole purpose was to honor and glorify God--win or lose? On the football field and in everyday life? What could happen if they fully committed themselves to that goal?

Yes, it's predictable. And perhaps it wrongly conveys, to some extent, that if you commit to the Lord, everything is going to turn out great. And honestly? I would have made the crippled-dad storyline just a little less corny.

That said, the movie engaged me--which, ultimately, movies are supposed to do. It tugged at my heartstrings, entertained me, affirmed my faith, and uplifted my soul. It's not too often that I can say that about a Hollywood movie.

Not bad for a film made by amateurs.

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