I have this afternoon decided, that in all of my reviews from now on (and who knows I might even go back and amend the ones that I have already done) I am going to include a relevant passage of scripture.
After all, this is a Christian site reviewing Christian and faith-based films/movies and with an attitude of faith. So for this review the passage of scripture which instantly come to mind to this reviewer (you may very well have your own) is that of Joshua 24:15 and specifically the last line.
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (NKJV)
This film is all about faith, and indeed all about serving the Lord. And I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and very much appreciated it’s central message.
It stars – along with several others – the Christian singer/songwriter Michael J Smith who plays the role of Associate Pastor Ethan Jenkins. a man who grew up in his father’s ministry but who – as is often the way – sees things a little differently to the old man.
But actually it isn’t his seeing things differently to his father that forms the main storyline of this film. This is where Pastor Jake Sanders – excellently played by Jeff Obafemi Carr (who then went on to have roles in Pure Country 2 – The Gift, Blue Like Jazz and The Secret Handshake) comes in. For as wealthy and comfortable as the “rock star status” Pastor Ethan Jenkins (Michael W Smith) – or ‘Gucci’i as Pastor Jake calls him – may be, Pastor Jake (Jeff Obafemi Carr) is not.
Along the way, in this film we are introduced and invited to connect and empathise with several other characters and we learn their stories and see God working in their lives. It is, it has to be said, a story of comparisons. Material wealth verses material poverty and yes also spiritual wealth verses spiritual bondage often through material wealth.
And whilst that may already be ringing an ‘oh no aren’t there already enough story-lines about that’ bell in your mind, please don’t let this put you off watching this film as it really does present it’s message – and indeed it’s challenges – in an interesting and slightly different way.
As usual (having spoilers in mind), I am reluctant to say very much more about this film. Does it contain violent scenes? Yes but not that these are at all graphic by nature and actually they are extremely delicately handled. Having more suggestion than presence and then only enough to support the storyline.
Is it possible – even very likely – that some of the actions of both of the central pastors could be questionable to some? Yes absolutely (hey, they are even questionable to each other) but does that negate either the authenticity of their roles or their calling (within the context of the film)? No I don’t believe that it does.
Did Michael W Smith’s acting make me sit up and go, “Wow, there is a man who has missed his calling”? Lol not it did not. But neither, it has to be said, did it make me go, “Wow, there’s a man who should have stuck to his first calling.” Which is a blessing in itself – trust me.
Actually whilst all of the acting was – in the opinion of this reviewer – perfectly acceptable and plausible within their roles, no one actor or character really leapt of the screen at me. And again, in many ways, that is a good thing as from these humble messengers the film’s message lost no emphasis.
Again, I make allowances for the fact that this film was released some 9 years ago now (at the time of my writing this review) and again that means that budgets, access to equipment and resources – due to this being a Christian film – would have been more limited.
As a related sidebar, I have to say that it truly saddens me how in terms of Christian films and indeed Christian music the quality of production has always seemed to lag several years behind secular stuff.
I enjoyed this film. I appreciated this film. And yes I was challenged by this film. Although, in many ways, I think it’s challenge is as relevant to; church committees, leadership teams and boards as it is to the individual Christian.
And before closing I think I should mention that if you are keen on Michael W. Smith’s music and are thinking of watching this movie because of his music, you should be aware that actually it is extremely limited in this film. That is not the purpose of it.
Would I recommend this film to you if you came to me and asked me to recommend a good Christian movie? Yes I would, but I have to be honest here, there are several others that I would be more likely to recommend first.
Written By: Chip Arnold, Henry O. Arnold, Ben Pearson, Steven Taylor
Directed By: Steve Taylor
Starring: Michael W. Smith, Jeff Obafemi Carr, J. Don Ferguson
Genre: Drama, Christian
Released: February 17th, 2006 (USA)
Runtime: 102 mins
Age Rating: PG-13
Controversial Language: Limited
Nudity and/or Sexual Content: None
Potentially Disturbing Scenes: Limited (more suggested than actual)
For Faith and Ful-film-ent Rating: 6/10 Highly Recommended. ††††††††††