Saturday, February 24, 2007

Facing the Giants
















*Warning: Spoilers Inside*

My wife and I just finished watching Facing the Giants. In case you are not aware, it is a movie made by Christians (a church I think) with Christian themes and a Christian message. This church (as I have heard) shot this movie, got it in theaters, and it is now out on DVD. It has taken off among Christians (at least in my circles), mainly because it is a movie put out by Christians (it is similar to that whole Christian business network philosophy).

There is stuff I like and stuff I didn't like about the movie, but I will start by giving you a quick synopsis. It is the story of the football coach at a small Christian school who is down on his luck. In 6 seasons as head coach, he has never had a winning season, and there are rumors that he needs to be fired. In addition, he and his wife have tried for 4 years and cannot get pregnant. He comes to a breaking point about a third of the way through and he turns to God. From there, things turn around. He takes a new approach to coaching the team and they start winning, making it all the way to the state championship and winning in amazing fashion. At the end, he finds out that his wife is pregnant. While all of this is going on, there is a revival of sorts that happens at the school.

Time to evaluate. I will start with the bad. I must say I was going into this ready to blow holes in it. Here is what I came up with.

1. The Acting is 2nd rate.

This is understandable since it was such a low budget movie, but we are used to such great art that the bad sticks out in a major way. The accents are annoying. Many of the lines are cheesy. At certain serious times I feel like the actors blow the scene. It is not the entire movie, but it happens enough. Recasting some of the major roles with established actors could have made this movie a lot better.


2. It included a lot of what I call "Pop Christianity."


There are several times in the movie where the writers seem to lose creativity when they want to make a point, so they resort to a type of sermonizing. There are some pretty cheesy sermon illustrations worked into what are supposed to be everyday conversations. I felt myself thinking "Nobody talks like that!" They also could have toned down the Christian jargon talk. It seems at a point about two thirds of the way through where they seem to be forcing a Christian reference into every scene.

3. It has a bit of the "Follow God and get everything you want" message.

It is not a lot, because you do see the characters experience failure, and when they do they stay content in what God has done. However, things go from an extreme low at the beginning to as good as they could possibly be at the end. I understand that there is certainly a place for good endings and inspirational stories, but it is possible that a person watching could have gotten the message that if you turn to God your life will be great.

Okay, I'm done ripping on it. I really did like the movie, and would like to see it again. So, I will now mention the things I liked about the movie.

1. There are some great themes that run throughout the movie.

The themes that I jotted down were God as Lord, Turning to God in hard times, Praise God in all circumstances, Giving God all the glory, Nothing is impossible with God, Facing fears, and Leadership. I know that seems like a lot of themes, but each of these are mentioned several times. You would be hard pressed to find many of these themes in a Hollywood movie, and that is one thing that makes Facing the Giants good.

2. They portray God's way as the best way.

I believe that following God's ways are best. Not only because it fulfills your destiny and all that, but also because they actually are better ways. It is better to forgive than to hold a grudge. It is better to be honest than to lie etc. This message is communicated in the movie. At one point there is a student who constantly fights with his dad. He ends up accepting Christ and feels convicted of the lack of respect he was showing his father, so he apologized to him and started respecting him. The change carries over to the father and things improve. It was pretty well done in my opinion.

3. There are some great quotes in the movie.

The coach gives some pretty good speeches in the flick. In these speeches are some great quotes. Here are a few:

"Winning football games is too small a thing to live for, and I love football as much as anybody."

"The more I read this book (the Bible) the more I realize that life's not about us. We're not here to get glory, make money, and die."

"I've resolved to give God everything I've got and leave the results up to him."

4. When the coach hits bottom, he is a great example of what to do.

I was honestly expecting him to sulk and pout until things started to look up. Instead, he stays up all night praying and reading the Bible, until he emerges the next day having done some serious business with God and having a new outlook. What a great example of how to respond to hard times. How many of us are willing to do such a thing?

5. They refer to God speaking to people.

Even among Christians, the idea of God speaking directly to one of his people is a bit controversial. Most Christians believe that God spoke through the Bible and is done speaking. I belong to the stream of Christianity that believes that God still speaks to believers today, and I think it is crucial that he does. There is a time in the movie where an older guys who prayer walks the school every day walks into the coaches office and says he feels God told him to share a certain scripture with him. The coach follows him and makes a point to confirm, "God told you to tell me that?" It turned out to be a confirmation to what God was telling the coach. It is good to see this controversial idea in the movie, because I believe that it is very important to the body of Christ today.

In the end, the artistic parts of the movie were a bit rough, but it was a good movie. I encourage you all to see it. I give it a B, or 4 stars, whichever you prefer. I welcome other comments on this flick. I had heard mixed reviews before, so I'd be interested to hear what the rest of you thought.

10 comments:

Kevin Price said...

I found it quite inspiring as well and wrote about it today at www.bizplusblog.com. I think that Christians should seriously consider investing in movies such as this. This movie only cost $100,000 to produce, but grossed $10,000,000. This is a huge testimony about the power of putting our money where our faith is. I appreciate your blog.

Nick said...

Thanks for those numbers, Kevin. Yeah, quite the payoff. I'm sure my church could use the 10 mil i some creative way :>

Derek Warner said...

Nick --

Kelsey and I just watched that movie on Sunday. I have to say that I agree with everything you said about the movie, but I have a little more to say about it.

As a pretty avid movie watcher, it was pretty tough to sit through this movie. Fifteen minutes into this movie, I turned to Kesley, and said, "The movie ends like this: they win the state championship, and she'll be pregnant."

The actors were not great, like you said, but I can deal with bad acting. It was the super-cheesey-ness of the movie that was tough to deal with. Did it really have to end with the weak kicker kicking a long field goal -- and his crippled dad standing by the goal post?! Are you kidding me?

Half way through the movie, I fully expected Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Mike Nelson (or maybe even Joel Robinson) to show up at the bottom of the screen and start ripping on the movie.

On a scale of 0 to 4 stars, I give it 1 star -- only for the promoting Jesus Christ, whom I love.

Derek

Nick said...

Yeah, Derek, you are right. I suppose that looking at it from a strictly "how well done was this movie" point of view, it is easy to be critical (too predictable, bad acting etc.) I thought it would be neat if they had lost at the end.

I do think, thought, that it had some lagitimate moments that were touching, some sad moments, powerful, exciting, etc. I was excited when his wife found out she was pregnant, and I was sad when he overheard the board meeting. There is a tension, I suppose.

The most common temptation is to be too easy on the movie and give it a pass because it is a Christian movie, but I (and maybe you too, Derek)have to be careful not to be too hard on it because it is Christian, and we don't want to give it a pass.

Know what I mean?

Picto said...

Imagine. You decide to make a movie. A movie big enough to hit the big screen. But you're not Steven Spielberg and you don't work in the movie business. You're not an actor, a producer or a director. You're not even a dolly grip operator (whatever one of those are). In fact, you really don't know how to make a movie at all. You work at a church, you don't have access to a pool of professional actors and you can't afford a casting director. So what do you have?

You've got a hundred grand, a friend who has a decent video camera and access to a few people who had lead roles in their school nativity play in 8th grade. On balance, compared to Warner Brothers, you don't have much to play with.

Imagine kicking off the project. Writing a script, creating a story board, choosing locations, arranging equipment and all the other functions that watching the end credits of Facing The Giants will perhaps somewhat surprise you were required in order to complete the film.

Imagine it was your idea. How would you put it together? Ever tried to capture a moment on a video camera. Doesn't always work out does it?

This film can't compete with a Hollywood production in terms of big screen completeness. But watching this film for the message it was intended to deliver might just inspire you in a way that Hollywood is pretty much incapable of doing. It might endorse the moral code in your life. It might help your children understand God better, to pray to Him, to trust Him and to Worship him.

Does the film have a few cheesy moments? Sure it does, but does that detract from the message? Definately not. Much like you feel you want to box someone's ears off after watching Rocky, this film makes you want to get closer to God. And in a society that harbors more violent crime than ever before, terrorism, child molesters, rapists and muggers together with a film industry that glorifies much of the aforementioned, isn't it a relief....no a blessing....that an unknown little-bitty church in Georgia can pull off an amazing project like Facing The Giants?

Go watch.

Anonymous said...

This movie honestly changed my life;
i praise God for it and wish there for more movies like it that had a message like it, then maybe this world would be a better place;
GOd bless you all;

Fireproof the Movie said...

Hi there,

My name is Monique & I'm part of the PR team for Sherwood Pictures--creators of FACING THE GIANTS.
Thank you so much for supporting the movie on your blog! We wanted to keep you informed of their latest project--FIREPROOF.
It's due to hit theaters this September in theaters nationwide. You can go to www.fireproofthemovie.com to view the trailer, read the synopsis, and sign up for updates to stay up to date with all of the FIREPROOF happenings! If you're interested in learning more or need any resource, pictures, and downloads for your blog please email me at monique@lovell-fairchild.com and I will be happy to get you what you need.

Again, thanks for blogging!
Monique
Lovell-Fairchild Communications

Kaikai said...

I understand that the movie had its problems. Sure, there were actors that don't exactly measure up to Academy Awards standards, but consider where they came from. And then, why are we judging a Church-made movie against Hollywood’s standards, anyways? Surely, we are not implying that they are comparable? Cheesy lines, yes! But, if that is where you stop, you have severally missed the point.

This movie is not about the happy ending.

This movie is about “Facing the Giants.” Grant Taylor faced anger, pride, shame, defeat, betrayal, sterility, and the list goes on. The football team faced not just the Giants on the other team. The worst Giants that they faced were overcoming themselves, and giving every effort for God. They were up against self-centeredness, pride, loss, and yet through all this, God leads them to surrender all.

Yes, the ending is rather happy, but the crucial point of the movie is when Coach Taylor’s plan of, “If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him,” comes into play. Up until then, everything was going well, and they had every reason to trust in God.

There is also a parallel with Taylor’s wife, who thinks that she is pregnant again.

It is only when they are broken that the true test of their devotion is revealed.

When the team loses the game that would’ve taken them to the championship, they are severally disappointed. They could easily have questioned God and God’s plan, but instead, they join together to praise God, even for their loss. Taylor’s wife is told that she is not pregnant, and her soulful cry of, “I WILL still love You,” is a demonstration of trusting God despite the circumstances.

This is not following blindly. This is a determined searching after God’s will, with no regard to loss or failure. This is the message in the movie: Facing the Giants and overcoming them, in Christ. Yes, it’s a happy ending, and not all life is like that, but the crux is at the bottom: the choice to follow when life is not going how you think it should.

And, each character, in turn, is brought to dependence on God. So, why is this ending cheesy? Is it na├»ve to believe that God gives good things to His children who follow Him? I understand that God won’t always give us the championship game, or allow conception to take place, or grant a huge kick by a timid high school kid. BUT, do we believe that He CAN? If the answer is yes, than what’s the problem with the ending? They prayed, had faith, and accomplished spectacular things! So what if there is cheesy, idealized, Christian jargon. If people don’t really talk like that, maybe it’s not the movie that is wrong. Maybe we should be talking like that. If we talk like Christians and act like Christians all the time, it will feel different, and it will look different. Are we expecting this Christian movie to use the same language as Hollywood? I would hope not.

When God becomes the basis for your life, and the basis for how you LIVE your life, there is a difference. You are agreeing to praise God, whether you win, or whether you lose.

Precious said...

Kaikai, God bless you for your comments. I've seen Facing The Giants not less than 12 times and have cried at least 90% of the time. The movie does not measure up to the high standards of Hollywood but it shows how we as God's children are to live our lives - by faith no matter the situation of things. I cried so many times simply because the movie brings to the fore the dependence on God that we should have in all we do, the fact that we are not here to live, be succesful and die - we are here cos He placed us here for HIS purpose (something most of us have lost sight of). Yes, Facing The Giants will not be winning any awards but it is one of the most impactful movies ever made (if you are God's child and have a different value system operational in your life). Ive also seen Fireproof and Flywheel (by the same folks) and they obviously have a message to pass that I believe people should grasp and imbibe instead of looking for loopholes.

Mike T said...

My wife brought home a copy of "Facing the Giants" for us to watch one day. She told me the movie was great and then proceeded to tell me that it was a movie done by a church in Albany, Georgia. My first thought was a Strong Christian message but man is thing going to be painful to watch. I was 100% wrong! It was an awesome movie and we (my entire family) have watched it at least 50 times. Yes there were some cheesy lines and the actor's were not mainstream but then again knowing that the film was done by a church gave me a clue so I was not expecting great acting. Being a Christian man and raising my children in a Christian household I would take this movie over ANY Hollywood blockbuster any day of the week. I give thanks every day that the Lord blessed the Kendrick brothers with this vision. It is rare that a movie is made that goes along with my beliefs, is NOT afraid to speak of God's love, and that shows a life following the Lord as a good thing. I read all the entry's on this movie and I guess the only thing that suprises me were the number of people who were "surprised" that the acting was not of Hollywood caliber. Thanks for the blog!