December 2, 2020

I saw “Courageous” at Elmslie – so should you have!

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courageous_movie_premierElmslie United Church, George Town

My wife, Joan, asked me to go with her on Sunday (17) evening to watch a film (she couldn’t remember the name) about fathers. At first I made excuses as I really wasn’t interested but as the time got nearer to the movie airing I relented and went with her to her church.

The church looked empty and there was only a few minutes to go before it would start. I counted 20 persons including the Elmslie pastor, Rev Dave Hazel who introduced the movie “Courageous”.

The hard wooden pews at Elmslie are not meant for comfort and I regretted my decision to be there. I only hoped the movie would be less than an hour long. It wasn’t. It ran for 2 hours and 10 minutes!

With only a handful of attendees and a movie I had never heard of I knew I was in for a rough and boring evening. However it was the first Sunday in Lent so this was a penance.

DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTOS

The movie started with a man filling up his car with petrol (gas) and then needing water to clean his windscreen leaves his car and immediately it is stolen. He chases after it and manages to do battle with the thief who is inside the car driving and he, owner, is outside feet dragging along the road. Extremely well shot and directed and from that moment I was “captured”.

The film had moments of excitement, sadness including a very, very tearful sequence, laughter and a Christian in the face message that made me feel very uncomfortable.

At the end, and it did not seem 130 minutes, we all clapped.

Yes, the movie was over long and could and should have been cut, it had its cheesie moments with dialogue that didn’t gel, some plot turns that were contrived, and some, but not all, of the acting was amateur.

BUT and it is a big BUT. Most of the movie was excellent and I am amazed the church wasn’t packed to capacity. I am totally shocked at how poor the attendance was.

The film has received the following awards:

2012 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival

WON- Best of Festival

WON- Best Feature Film

2012 Epiphany Prize

WON- Most Inspiring Movie

2012 Grace Award

WON- Most Inspiring Performance in Movies, Alex Kendrick

NOMINATED- Most Inspiring Performance in Movies, Robert Amaya

The critics, including some major Christian websites, were mixed. One such website and should be taken to task (I left a comment) said they “HATED” it! However the public mostly loved it. In fact it achieved a very rare ‘A+” rating from moviegoers via CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes (critics only 35% liked it) the people that matter -the ones who paid to see it – 88% were positive!

The film cost $2M to make and to date has grossed over $34.5M!!

Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl-winning football coach, mentioned the film in an article he wrote about fatherhood for USA Today. He said, “As men, we could all take a lesson from [the fathers in Courageous] and ask ourselves, ‘What can I do today to be a more involved dad?'”

Well said. I implore everyone, especially if you are a father or intend to become one, to see the movie. You will not be disappointed. The film has been released on DVD and Blu-ray and was #1 in disc sales in the US the week ending January 22, 2012 according to “The Hollywood Reporter”.

I have to ask again all of you who worshipped at the Elmslie Sunday (17) morning service, and Joan tells me it was packed, where were you? A free showing of a rare award winning Christian film that people in the USA flocked to see and only 20 of you turned up! Two of the people watching the film were tourists who were there in the morning. How do I know? Joan and I drove them back to their hotel> they couldn’t understand the poor attendance either.

About the movie “Courageous”

Courageous is a 2011 independent Christian drama film, directed by Alex Kendrick, produced by Sherwood Pictures and was released to theaters on September 30, 2011. It is the fourth film by Sherwood Pictures, the creators of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Filming in Albany, Georgia concluded in June 2010. The film was marketed by Sony’s Provident Films, which also marketed their previous films.

The film was directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote its screenplay with his brother Stephen Kendrick. Kendrick also stars in the film, along with Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes, and former running-back Tony Stallings. About half of the cast and crew were volunteers from Sherwood Baptist Church, while the remainder were brought on through invitation-only auditions.

The film was produced with a budget of $2 million, but on its opening weekend it grossed $2 million in pre-sales alone and grossed $9.1 million total for the weekend. The film opened to mixed reviews from critics, but a rare A+ CinemaScore rating from filmgoers.

Plot

As the police force of Albany, Georgia, attempts to stop gangs and drug dealing activity in the city, the sheriff urges his deputies to spend time with their families, citing research that shows fatherless children are several times more likely to get into trouble in life, including crime. Among his deputies are Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick), Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel), Shane Fuller (Kevin Downes), and rookie David Thomson (Ben Davies). Mitchell adores his young daughter, but is distant from his teenage son. Hayes never knew his biological father but would risk his life to save his two children; however, his teenage daughter Jade (Taylor Hutcherson), resents him because he has strict rules about dating. Fuller is divorced, as were his parents, and has joint custody of his son. Thomson is young and single. The group also befriends Javier Martinez (Robert Amaya), an immigrant struggling to provide for his family, and Mitchell recommends him to a new full-time job, where he is hired.

Mitchell’s daughter is killed by a drunk driver, devastating Mitchell and his family. Following his daughter’s death, Mitchell reads a lot about fatherhood in the Bible. He decides he must be a better father and crafts a detailed “Resolution” to honor God in every aspect of his family. Mitchell, Hayes, Fuller, Thomson, and Martinez join him in his resolution at a formal ceremony conducted by Hayes’s neighborhood mentor, the man he thinks of as a father. Mitchell rebuilds a relationship with his son and receives some relief of his guilt at his daughter’s death. Hayes mends his relationship with his daughter and presents her with a purity ring that he asks her to wear until she is married. He also visits the grave of his biological father who he had never met and forgives him. Fuller improves his relationship with his son.

 

Thomson reveals that he fathered a child in college and deserted the mother after she refused to have an abortion. He writes the mother a letter seeking a relationship with his daughter and encloses some support money. Martinez’s factory employer offers him a promotion on the condition that he falsify inventory documents. Martinez refuses, and his boss reveals that the request was a test of Martinez’s integrity. The boss promotes Martinez and gives him a raise.

Mitchell discovers that Fuller has been stealing drugs from police evidence. Mitchell decides he must honor his Resolution and decides to report the corruption. He sets up a sting leading to Fuller’s arrest and imprisonment. Mitchell visits Fuller in jail where Fuller takes responsibility for his actions and asks Mitchell to look after his son, which Mitchell agrees to do.

During a minor traffic stop, Hayes and Thomson unknowingly confront the armed leader of a gang they have been repeatedly encountering. The incident turns into a roadside gun battle, and the gang leader attempts to take a young girl hostage. Mitchell and other officers arrive as backup. The girl’s father helps Hayes subdue a suspect, and Mitchell assists in arresting a second suspect. One of the gang members is Derrick Freeman (David Howze), a teenager who Hayes had earlier prohibited from dating his daughter; Derrick attributes his decisions to his lack of a father.

At a Father’s Day church service, the men present the Resolution and Mitchell urges the fathers in the congregation to be a Godly influence on their families. Mitchell runs in a 5K race with his son and Fuller’s son. Hayes reads the Bible in prison with Derrick. Thomson meets his daughter for the first time. The film ends with a quote from Joshua 24:15: “Choose today who you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

 

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