Some Christian Movie You’ve Never Heard of Had the Second Biggest Opening This Weekend

Everything was coming up Dolphin at the box office this weekend, with Morgan Freeman and Marine Biologist Harry Connick Jr. leading all comers with $14.2 million. But in terms of new releases, 50/50 led with $8.86 million, barely $50 grand ahead of Courageous (which could change when final numbers are released this afternoon). Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably just thought, “Courageous? What the hell is Courageous?” The answer is that it’s a Jesus movie from Sherwood Pictures, the same company behind Kirk Cameron’s Fireproof. And it made its $8 million in half as many theaters as 50/50.

Keep in mind, I hadn’t heard of this movie before today, and I write a movie blog. The fourth film from Sherwood (whose films, Flywheel, Facing Giants, Fireproof, and now Courageous) have all been written and directed by pastor Alex Kendrick, Courageous had a budget of $1 million, their biggest to date. In the hopes of familiarizing you with it, so you don’t one day pick it up by accident at the movie store and burn your heathen skin on the box, I thought we’d play the plot recreated with reviews game. But remember: celebrate, don’t ridicule. Persecution is what powers them, like that nuclear dude in Superman 4 with the sun.

The film’s co-writer and director, Alex Kendrick, stars as Adam Mitchell, a police officer struggling to uphold his professional duties while providing spiritual guidance to his family. -NY Times

It follows four Albany, Georgia (the home of Sherwood Baptist) sheriff’s deputies, Adam (Alex Kendrick), Nathan (Ken Bevel), Shane (Kevin Downes) and David (Ben Davies) — -Orlando Sentinel

— (three Anglo, one African-American) — -Christianity Today

and one Hispanic laborer… -Village

…who are tested by the small city’s gang and drug problems, something the sheriff identifies, through statistics, as being the product of kids growing up in fatherless homes. -Orlando Sentinel

Adam frets over the father he wants to be to his young daughter and aspiring track star teenage son. Nathan is trying to keep his 15 year-old daughter beyond the reach of “saggy pants”  — older teens who are nothing but trouble to girls that age. -Orlando Sentinel

The deputies are close enough friends to talk about their personal lives, with Adam and Nathan pointing to God and the Bible as their guideposts. -Orlando Sentinel

Shane and David have different backgrounds and just listen, patiently, to their proselytizing colleagues... -Orlando Sentinel

…who renew their commitment to Christ and their children when one of them, Adam, loses his daughter in a car accident shortly after refusing to playfully dance with her. -VillageVoice

He fondly watches his daughter dancing in the grass, but self-consciously turns down her request that he dance with her, telling her he’ll dance with her in his heart. -Christianity Today

Ken Bevel, who played the wise black firefighter in Fireproof, plays a wise black cop, Nathan, a hands-on father who won’t let his teen daughter date and scares off baggy-pants-wearing would-be boyfriends. -Christianity Today

Nathan wonders “where all the good fathers went to,” and demonstrates a good father’s vigilance when he asks a would-be gang banger to “explain the purpose of the relationship” the kid wants with his daughter, Jade. That’s Nathan’s teachable moment with Jade.
“If he shows no respect for us, he won’t respect you.” -Orlando Sentinel

“Courageous” is a challenge to “men of courage,” to fathers to measure up to the Biblical definition of the word. -Orlando Sentinel

“I don’t want to be a ‘good enough’ father,” Adam protests. -NYTimes

Prayers are made and answered on a regular basis, a cynical agnostic converts and is immediately transfigured into a better man, and characters stop to lecture for minutes on end about God’s plan while all but looking at the camera and into the audience. -Entertainment Weekly

…a eulogy, a father’s desperate efforts to stop a carjacking… -Orlando Sentinel

A scene where a father takes his 15-year-old daughter to a fancy restaurant alone and gives her some sort of heart-shaped chastity-related promise ring would come across as creepy even if the daughter didn’t later lovingly admire her ring in bed like a gold-digger adoring her sugar-daddy’s gaudy gift. -AV Club/Village Voice

When not focusing on guys sincerely discussing their own dads over post-grilling non-alcoholic beverages, or sobbing over their deeply felt paternal grief, regret and prayers, the film [spends] its time on tossed-off crime shenanigans in which gangs (here by and large played by African- American men in doo-rags) are posited as the potentially horrific future for kids not blessed with positive male role models… -Village Voice

…with Kendrick delivering toss-away lines that suggest he doesn’t even tolerate “the option” of divorce. -Orlando Sentinel

A closing monologue that delivers the message of the movie in a shiny little box explicitly posits fathers as the visual representation of God within their families and homes. -The AV Club

When Adam pulls himself together, he decides to formalize his new commitment to live deliberately with a pledge or resolution. The resolution is this film’s equivalent of Fireproof’s Love Dare: a concrete way that viewers can participate in the movie’s program. At the instigation of one of the wives, the resolution becomes a formal, religiously tinged ceremony in which the fathers solemnly commit themselves to God, honor and family. -Christianity Today

See, I could’ve just posted your usual Box Office Round-Up post, complete with a couple sentences of analysis for each movie and a cute cat Photoshop, but I’m tired of being a “good enough” blogger. Blogs are the visual representation of God on the internet, and I’m finally ready to accept that responsibility. (*pulls up pants, gives heart ring to teenager*)

Come on, girl, can’t you see how much I respect you? Let’s play just the tip before Sunday School. Leviticus 29:12 says Jesus won’t hear us if we keep our sweaters on.

[Trailer and video on following page, sources: NY Times, EW, AV Club, Christianity Today, Orlando Sentinel, Village Voice]

I thought the song in the trailer was Creed at first.