Saturday, October 01, 2011

Review: Courageous, the movie

Christian Fiction Blog Reviews Courageous

 

This summer I saw an early screening of Courageous, the Movie at the 2011 ICRS Convention in Atlanta. The movie released yesterday nationwide. Here's my review.

Synopsis: Courageous is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. It is the story of law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and their partners. They are confident and focused: they willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children?

Protecting the streets is second nature to these law enforcement officers. Raising their children? That will take courage.

Runtime: PG-13. 2 hours, 4 minutes

Review: This movie’s writing is far better than Fireproof. I loved, loved, loved the scene when Officer Hayes took his daughter to dinner and gave her a promise ring. I loved when Officer Mitchell danced with his daughter. Kudos for those bright moments. However, there were some melodramatic, predictable, and questionable spots that kept it from receiving a 5 star rating from Christian Fiction Blog.

Without sharing much of the plot and the denouement, I want to address my challenge with the constant negative and stereotypical portrayals of people of color in the movie. I’m from South Georgia and have many relatives in Albany, where this movie is set. It would be hard for me to watch this movie with them without cringing. For the record southern af-am gang members aren’t jumped-in like it is portrayed in the movie nor do they wear do-rags and cut off jean shirts. There are many Af-am churches in Albany that could have helped Sherwood on what gang members really look like now. (They could have contacted me, since I was once on a gang prevention task force.)

Moreover, the comic scene whereby the latino friend masqueraded as the stereotypical Tony Montana, greasy Latino Drug Lord was disturbing and not funny. My in-laws are Latina, as well as my child. I’m not in the mood to have a conversation with her about living with a double stereotype , which has been pushed by leaders of our faith. Furthermore, it is more evident after reading the praise of The Help that many of us do not know American Immigration history and how damaging these prejudiced roles are to the psyche of our society.

Although I understand the message this movie wants to get out, I do not understand the need for perpetuating stereotypes in order to do it. It puts people off, which I’m sure wasn’t its desired intent. All men, regardless of race, are challenged by being fathers. Criminal behavior is not regulated just to people of color, and all af-am men who grew up in single parent households aren’t doomed to a life of crime, nor are the ones who aren’t criminal an exception to the rule.

At some point American Protestant Society including CBA and Sherwood has to realize that if they want to evangelize Christ message to everyone, if they want to edify the Body of Christ, if they want to glorify God, they are going to have to see everyone as equal. Casting people of color is a step forward; Casting them to stereotype is two steps back. Otherwise Courageous, is a movie only for white protestant fathers, which I don’t believe- especially after having a chat with director Alex Kendrick.

Sure Tony Dungy praised the film in USA Today. However, he doesn’t speak for me and I’m proof positive he doesn’t speak to the men of color in Albany, Georgia, whom this movie will most assuredly single them out to be bad men.

3 stars.

3 comments:

PatriciaW said...

I appreciate your review. I read the book and really loved it, but that's why I often take the book over the movie. Filmmakers' decisions don't always sit well with me. Granted, some of what you reference occurs in the book, so that has to be credited to the authors. But how we are portrayed in print is no different than how we are portrayed on film. Although all your points are valid--and I understand the double stereotype of Black and Latina, being one--the redemptive qualities of this story were still praiseworthy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dee, I have to tell you that I thought your review was spot on. But there was one other steretype that bothered me... the Latino in the film was cast as a day worker, who was out looking for any and all contruction work he could find. Not all Latino's are contruction workers or maids.

My hope is that CBA looks at thes offensive things and starts to make a change. I probably would have rated the movie a (2) because there was just too much offensive things in this movie.

For instance, in one scene the police officers are sitting together. I believe it was 4 white men and 1 black guy. They began talking about fathers. All of the white men discussed the fact that whether their father was good or bad he had married their mother. But when they got to the black guy... he didn't even know his father, but from what he knew, his father had five kids by five different women. Come on now... every black man is not out spreading his seed all over the world and every white man did not marry before getting someone pregnant. That's all I have to say.

Christianfictionaddiction said...

Thanks for your review. I still plan on watching the movie, but you sure raise some valid concerns about the movie that I'll be keeping an eye out for. Hopefully the movie makers will take constructive criticisms like yours to heart!
Jeremy

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