Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bechtloff Movie Night: Courageous (2011)

I recently took a look at the Christian movie Fireproof, now I think it's worth taking a look at it's sorta sequel, Courageous.

Courageous follows four cops and an immigrant worker named Javier Martinez whom the group befriends, as they seek to become better fathers. After the one cop, Adam, loses his nine year old daughter in a car accident, he begins to feel guilty over the kind of father he was and pledges to do better with his teenage son. This leads to all the guys signing pledges in a fancy ceremony with their pastor to be better fathers. A bunch of other little plot threads go on too, but they all have such little bearing on the rather thin main plot that I really can't be bothered to go through explaining them all.

This movie is definitely better than Fireproof, but only in the way that catching herpes is better than catching AIDS. They're both pretty bad, one is simply far worse. This movie isn't as amateurish as Fireproof, and unlike Fireproof none of the main characters behave in a way that completely undermines the narrative, but it suffers from simply being incredibly boring. With only one exception, the funny scenes didn't get more than a smirk out of me, and with the exception of some of the scenes in which Adam is mourning his daughter, none of the so called touching moments really succeed either.
This movie is made by the same people who gave the world Fireproof, Sherwood Pictures. Sherwood is an amateur movie studio started by a church. Part of me really respects Sherwood for what they're attempting to do and that they have the ambition to even attempt it. In an age in which only a dozen companies own over 95% of the media you read, watch, or listen to, for a truly independent movie studio like this to see the success it's seen is nothing short of impressive. But that doesn't mean I can or should ignore that these are very bad story tellers. I get that these people want to use their new found position as entertainers to preach to people. As a Christian I find that commendable. But if you're an entertainer, your first job is to entertain. If you're not even doing your job you won't be able to use it as an effective platform to get a message across. And that's especially true in entertainment. No non Christian would want to sit through this boring drivel. I'm a Christian and I had a hard time getting through it. 

There are two real problems as I see it with the largely pathetic attempts as story telling modern Evangelical culture produces. First, while it's fine to have a message, you need to first be engaging and entertaining, and also it helps to be subtle and not hit people over the damn head with your message. When I was a kid Captain Planet was on TV all the time because Ted Turnner was bound and determined to shove it down the throats of every American child.
Protecting the environment is an important message. We need to be good stewards of our planet. It is, after all, the only one we have. But no kid was going to take any message coming from that mullet sporting douche and his shitty TV show seriously. And the 'preach first, entertain later, if at all' approach from Sherwood Pictures is not going to win many souls with it's laughable attempts at movie making.

The second problem is not every movie needs to be 'family friendly'. Some stories can't be told properly in a G or PG way. Half of what's in the Bible, if translated faithfully to film, would get a very hard R rating.

You know what I consider to be a great 'Christian movie'? Changing Lanes,with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. While it never makes the obvious 'altar call' of a Sherwood Pictures film, that film does a better job of exploring the very Christian themes of redemption and the evil in man's heart than Fireproof or Courageous. Far better.

So while Courageous is a better movie than Fireproof, it's still pretty bad I would say steer clear of it. You're better off picking up a C.S. Lewis book or renting The Passion than wasting time on this poorly produced, tedious waste of 129 minutes.

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