Friday, January 6, 2012

Courageous - A Review

Courageous is a movie about fatherhood. It is the latest project from Sherwood Pictures, which is a part of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. I know that many disagree with me on this, but I found Sherwood's movie Fireproof (the last movie from them I viewed) barely watchable, even though it had a great message. I believe a good movie is a work of art. As a form of art, I hold artistic merits of a movie to a high standard. The message is important, but so is the writing, directing, production value, etc. If other aspects of the movie are lacking, then the message is diluted or virtually lost.

A few months ago I had a disagreement about this issue with some good friends. They got upset at me because I was critical of the feelgood Christian movies that have little artistic merit (bad acting, writing, etc). They thought the message was most important. I understand their argument, especially in light of the trash that Hollywood makes, but disagree that Christians need to settle for a lower form or movie art.

To tell the truth, I had no plans on watching Courageous. But, then I was sent the DVD for free in order to review it. The good news was, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The bad news, it was still below average.

After a tragedy to one of the main characters' family, one man decides to challenge himself to stand up for God and his family by being a good husband and father. His friends follow his lead. While the message about fatherhood is desperately needed in our society, the movie becomes too preachy about it as well as being too sentimental. Yet, I applaud the movie-makers for taking on an issue that is all too forgotten in our culture - the vital role that good fathers play in their children's lives.

The acting, writing, editing, etc. in Courageous was much better than Fireproof, but that isn't saying much. I know that the actors (and many others) are volunteers, but I don't understand why. I can't help but wonder how much better could the movie have been if the whole thing were done in collaboration with movie professionals? What would it hurt to have someone take a look at the script, edit out 45 minutes (it was WAY too long), work on lighting, etc.

If the goal of this film is to help recapture good fathers and husbands in our culture, then we need to speak to the culture. A church-going Christian man may be challenged by this movie, but I don't see this movie appealing to the guy who isn't going to church regularly. In my book, that means the movie doesn't measure up to being a good Christian movie. To be a good Christian movie, it has to reach others where they are. But, this one is too preachy and too heavy-handed with the Jesus talk. A good Christian movie, in my opinion, should have both a good message and more than just a message, but should be for all.

All in all, the movie was better than I expected but still a big disappointment. Do I recommend it? It depends. If you are someone who cares more about the message than the artistic merit, then I recommend it to you. If you are like me, don't watch it.


Lindsay said...

I definitely see your point, Marcel. This reminds me of the recent flare-up against Christian music. The crux of that criticism seemed to be that most Christian music is superficial, so it's not worth listening to. I agree; one can only get so far with Point of Grace and Steven Curtis Chapman, and all Casting Crowns songs (including the same-named one created for this film) sound the same. I think there are bright spots in the haze, though, and they're worth seeking out. Similarly, Christian films tend to be saccharine, but they're improving. Perhaps reviews like yours will help kick-start that growth.

cjaubert said...

Wow, Marcel, I really disagree. Frankly, I've loved all four of their movies. The first one - Flywheel - was clearly an amateur production, but, in my view, the message FAR outweighed that. The others have gotten progressively better from an artistic standpoint, and, frankly, I find them pretty good. My only real complaint/concern about these movies is how Protestant they are - "Hey, coach, 20 kids accepted Christ today on the practice field today!!! Praise the Lord!!!"

Warrant Officer - Texas Army National Guard said...

Agreed,.. My roommate and I went to see it and have similar sentiments

Casey Truelove said...

I agree. I basically wrote the same type of review when I saw it. Good job, Marcel, for holding Christian art to a higher standard.!

Chris said...

Marcel, I couldn't agree more that if we want a message to really permeate the society around us, then production value must be on par with what people are used to seeing. I know that resources are precious and it's hard to get funding for films like this, but you can't make something that has all of the technical sophistication of an after school special and expect people to act like it's a real feature film.

Message is always important and I'm glad that films like this get made, but they probably serve as a greater tool to challenge people already engrossed in church life (and thus more likely to tolerate the Christian-cheese in way of production value) than they are to create new converts.

Fireproof had a great message, but I agree, it was almost unwatchable. I laughed out loud at parts that I'm fairly certain were not supposed to be funny.