I had planned to do a few different blog posts this week and they were all going to be simply opinion pieces. Then everything changed. Sunday after church I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sit down and relax. For me the best way to relax is to kick back and watch a movie. I have movies I would like to see and my wife has movies she would like to see but as it is with many couples it is not always easy to come up with a movie that we both want to see. I fire up the Red Box app on my phone and I begin to list off movies. I get to one that I remember seeing trailers for and I remember being interested in it but I don’t remember why. After my wife and I got about 30 seconds into the trailer we both said “This one!” SO I got into my car, drove to our nearest Red Box and rented The Good Lie. I am so very glad that I did!
I would like to make very clear, I understand that the term “Christian film” is an ambiguous term (Which is actually one of the posts I was planning to write this week) but I would not categorize this as a “Christian film.” I will address my definition at a later time but let me just make some things clear about this film. It was not made for the purpose of ministry. It was not made to market towards the Church going audience. It has some (but not a lot) of foul language in it. It implied, but did not show, unmarried sex. It has segments of violence (but not senseless to the movie.) and it showed illegal drug use. My only intent in giving this warning is that I know my friends, family and other readers have different standards on what they will or will not watch. Making standards are good and no one should be looked down upon for choosing to guard their eyes, ears and mind from various things that they feel may be harmful.
With all of the above mentioned I would still urge all my readers to go out and rent this film, and if you liked it buy it! The trailer shows this movie to be a movie about three men from a war torn Sudan come to the United States and have trouble fitting in. It shows humorous interaction with things in our culture they have never seen before. What the trailer does not show is that these three men are Christians fleeing religious persecution. Scripture is read often as the group finds it a source of strength. They share scripture with others and as they walk through the desolate land of Africa, the person walking in the front holds the Bible. When they come to the States they are confronted with moral dilemmas that we take for granted as a culture but it causes them to measure it against their Christian faith. This film stands as a perfect example of how you can make a good, and entertaining Christian movie without cheesy dialog. The cinematography was beautiful! The acting was good, maybe not always great but I have seen legendary actors do worse! I also want to be clear on this. When I say the acting was good but not great, what I mean is, this is not “cheesy Christian movie acting” this is solid, professional acting… that just won’t be nominated for any awards but it just fine! This movie was funny, heart wrenching, touching, inspiring, and thought provoking. Everything I would want to say about every “Christian movie” out there!
Why did I say to go and buy this if you like it? Well, partly because I have always said, this is how we get more movies with good content, we support them. Why does this one need supporting? Because it made $2.7 million at the boxoffice and cost $20 million to make. This is probably baffling for Alcon Entertainment and the list of other studios involved with this film. Why? The trailer made it clear that Reese Witherspoon was in this film. It made sure to let you know that Ron Howard was a producer on this film even though he is one in a list. So why would a film Staring Reese Witherspoon, even though she really wasn’t the main character, and produced by Ron Howard, even though he wasn’t the main producer have flopped? If you ask me it is because they had gold and didn’t realize it.
Because of this trailer, which played back to back with another Reese Witherspoon trailer while in theaters got lost in the mix of movies. It didn’t stand out to the movie going public. How could this movie had stood out? Here is how I would have fixed it. It would consist of cutting out 30 seconds worth of footage (one random foul word, one sentence laced with vulgar language and one scene with Witherspoons character waking up in bed with a guy who is not in the rest of the film and whose only purpose is to set up a joke.) After cutting out all that, you market this as a Faith-Based film about Christians who leave there country to flee religious persecution and are confronted without culture with all its oddness. This now becomes a movie pastors bring their churches to see. You have Christian families rushing out to give their children an opportunity to see all the stuff they take for granted. At the end, Christian movie goers are left with an uplifted story that they will be talking about at church that Sunday. We all know how Christians like to feel uplifted! With these changes I am sure this movie could have made a profit.
While watching this film I was fighting off bouts of frustration! I kept thinking, why didn’t the Christian movie industry make this film first? Well, the answer to that is because the Christian movie industry is to focused right now on making apocalyptic films based on a specific interpretation of prophecy instead of finding real life stories to translate into film. I so badly want to be able to show this film at a movie nigh in our church. However, because of some of the content I cannot show this. Again, the reasons why are for another blog post but for me and the church I am leading and the way I want to lead it, it is not a movie I am able to show… because of about 30 seconds of the film.