FilmDrunk

The Plot Of Faith-Based Domestic Drama ‘War Room,’ Recreated With Reviews

Last weekend, War Room, a little-known “faith-based” film from Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the writing/directing team behind Fireproof (Kirk Cameron vs. internet porn) and Facing the Giants (Christian football movie, not to be confused with Riding Giants), became the highest-grossing new movie of the weekend. It trounced both No Escape and We Are Your Friends, despite opening on half as many screens as WAYF and a third as many as No Escape.

I’d heard only bits and pieces about the film, directed by Southern, Baptist-preaching brothers, like that it apparently counseled prayer as a way to cure domestic violence. It sounded like a perfect candidate for Plot Recreated with Reviews, the feature in which we attempt to reveal a film’s entire plot using only summary paragraphs from reviews. Sometimes a movie is best when described second-hand. I think this one worked out particularly well. Enjoy.

Elizabeth (Priscilla C. Shirer) is a successful Charlotte real estate agent, raising a daughter who’s deep into Double Dutch and sharing a McMansion with her star pharmacy rep husband Tony (T.C. Stallings). (Movie Nation)

The married pair of 16 years who have a daughter of around 8 but have been failing to communicate. It doesn’t help that Tony is a bit of a dick. He’s not helpful at home, unresponsive to both his wife and daughter, unwilling to help out his financially stricken sister-in-law, and he’s even considering cheating. (CinemaBlend)

Tony, so bulked-up that he appears to be dipping into his company’s steroids, has little use for his wife, telling a friend “I’m just tired of her.” (Hollywood Reporter)

He won’t help Liz’s sister out financially [Editor’s Note: How is this in any way a reasonable expectation?], thinks Danielle should be playing basketball instead of jump-rope [!!!], and flees to the gym at the first sign of domestic trouble. (FilmJournal)

Tony has tuned out this marriage, and Elizabeth is upset. “It is hard to submit to a man like that,” she confesses to her Christian realtor colleagues. (Movie Nation)

Not to worry. Her new client, the elderly widow Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) has the answer. (Movie Nation)

When Elizabeth confesses that she is unhappy, and tries opening up about the unabashed cruelty she endures on a daily basis from her loathsome husband, and only attends church when it fits her schedule, Miss Clara explains how she found happiness. (Guardian/RogerEbert.com)

“Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy” lives and marriages, Clara counsels. Be on your guard. And clean out your closet. (Movie Nation)

“God is in control,” she declares. This is after Miss Clara has impertinently grilled Liz on her church going habits, and made a joke out of her “lukewarm” commitment to Jesus by serving her lukewarm coffee. (Movie Nation)

Taking a cue from her late husband (who was a battle strategist during the Vietnam War) Miss Clara, who mostly speaks in hosanna soundbytes, discovered she needed a bunker in which to configure a plan of action. (Guardian)

Miss Clara preaches the need for a “War Room,” a place (a closet) where a woman can go develop a strategy for keeping Satan out of her house and her marriage, a place to pray. (Movie Nation)

which in Elizabeth’s case is her clothes closet, formerly the scene of her secret binge eating of potato chips. (THR)

The film’s centerpiece sequence occurs as Elizabeth sits weeping in her closet while pleading, “God, help him love me again.” (RogerEbert.com)

Elizabeth, after a heartfelt address to God, suddenly turns her wrath on Satan, stepping outside of her home and shouting, “This house is under new management!” (THR)

Clara’s climactic monologue exhorts us to be a nation of warriors, showing demographically balanced multi-cultural groups of people praying at the flagpole, in a police station locker room, and in front of a map nailed to the wall somewhere or other.  (AV Club)

an unprecedented number of shots of people staring at closets in awe. (AV Club)

…a pointed shot of the White House. (AV Club)

“I see in you a warrior that needs to be awakened,” Clara says as the music swells dramatically. (AV Club)

Elizabeth and Miss Clara are accosted by a knife-wielding mugger and the elderly woman refuses his demand for money, telling the assailant to put down his knife “in the name of Jesus,” which he promptly does. Folks, this is not a good strategy in real life. (THR)

As for the film’s advice to women who are beaten by their husbands, one of Elizabeth’s co-workers advises, “Learn to duck so God can hit him.” (RogerEbert.com)

“Men don’t like it when womens’ always tryin’ to fix them!” (Movie Nation)

Once the evildoer is cast out of the house, everything changes. God promptly interrupts Tony’s dinner with a potential mistress by giving him a stomach ache, and sends him back into his wife’s arms. Before you know it, he’s lost his well-paying job and is facing potential jail time for dirty double-dealing, but Elizabeth remains utterly unfazed. When he asks how she could possibly forgive him for his endless list of transgressions, she insists that she’s staying in the relationship because she loves Jesus, and that it is her godly duty to forever be at his side. (RogerEbert.com)

You’d think this would be the end of the story, yet the Kendricks have a whole other hour to fill. So, they throw in more inspirational monologues and more contrived signs of God’s grace, all strung together in an interminable epilogue bereft of tangible conflict. (RogerEbert.com)

He begs forgiveness, prays and even gives stolen drugs back to his bosses (who don’t press charges, because he seems so sad.) There is a recurring gag that Elizabeth’s feet stink, and the movie ends with Tony washing them in a nice genderbent Mary Magdalene moment. (Guardian)

…and volunteering to take part in his daughter’s double-dutch competition. (THR)

Oh sure, yet when *I* offer to wash women’s stinky feet and take their daughter jump roping, they look at me like I’m a some kind of weirdo. Technically, this feature doesn’t allow critical analysis, but this line, from Salt Lake City Weekly, was too good not to share: “structurally, the movie is a mess, building to so many different endings it really should’ve been called The Return of the King of Kings.”

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