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.