Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Facing the Giants—comments

Spoiler-free part. This movie has been much-recommended, so I violated my usual ban on sports-themed movies and showed it on Burger Night.

I have a tough audience, in that it ranges in age from 7 (just turned 8) to 51, and includes male and female. My 11 year old son isn't usually happy unless there are explosions and fights; my now-8-year-old is tired of fights and explosions, but needs something pretty fast-moving and active to grip him.

My daughter and wife are very understanding, but their preferences of course differ from the boys. Thank God, there is a lot of overlapping, but often I know a movie will more please one element than the other. I try to go back and forth even-handedly in that way.

In fact, just the beginning of the movie (which is football-themed) got some exclamations, to the effect that this isn't my usual fare.

But we all enjoyed it a lot. The acting is fine, generally much better than a community play, but not quite Academy Award level. The photography is also fine, the music complements the story well.

I liked the characters and dialogue a lot. People aren't plaster saints nor Chick tract villains, and there are a lot of very nice and nicely-done touches of humor all throughout. (My favorite would defy retelling, but involves a scene where a character moans over his test-score.)

The story takes place at a Christian high school, and the themes are openly Christian. I think a Christ-haunted "non" would find it a bit preachy, but depending on the size of his shoulder-chip, perhaps not overwhelmingly so. It tells a very nice story of people you can care about dealing with believable knots and crises, and the sum is uplifting and instructive.

I don't really like watching football, but I enjoyed this a lot, and recommend it.

Now some spoilery comments. Be warned. Don't read further if you haven't seen the movie.

Spoilery comments in 3...



It does trouble me that everything turns out so perfectly.

The movie sets up the hero-coach's dilemmas very well and involvingly. The viewer cares for him and his wife, and moans with the mounting burdens on his back.

But then by the film's end, every one of them has been solved — except that he's losing his hair. Maybe he'll get that too, in a sequel. Or maybe it'll get better if he stops rubbing the top of his head.

But he gets a new truck for free, finds the dead rat, overcomes his little-swimmer shortage, wins the championship, has the one kid he witnesses to convert to Christ and reconcile fully to his dad, keeps his job, gets a raise, and becomes President of the United States.

Okay, I made that last one up.

Now the movie does deal with the "What if God doesn't do what we want Him to do?" issue, to an extent. That is, the coach turns the team to commit themselves to praising God, win or lose. And they lose one, and return to and practice this commitment. And the coach challenges his wife as to whether she will still love God even if she never has a baby; and, after a crushing disappointment, she commits herself to that love.


But then after the former, it turns out they really did win the game they thought they'd lost; and, after the latter, the wife learns she really is pregnant. (In fact, they have two babies!) So hey, neat — if God takes away a toy, and we say "That's okay," He'll give it back. Cool!

Of course the movie says no such thing... but I don't think there is even one disappointment that isn't turned around like that. A disrespectful kid is converted and reconciled to his dad; the kid who flunked a test even gets 100 on his next!

But Christian living, in this life, simply is not like that, much of the time. Demas forsakes, and maybe never comes back (2 Timothy 4:10); we may suffer precisely for doing good (1 Peter 2:20); people even die for telling others about Jesus (Acts 7:54-60). Infertile couples often stay infertile, kids raised in the love of Christ can go horribly astray, Christian teams lose games, old cars get worse and worse and nobody gives us brand-new trucks.

So this will give me an opportunity to talk with my boys about these truths, and that's good. But:
  1. Will my words make as much of an impression as a movie did?
  2. What impression of the Gospel would an unbeliever take away from the movie?
I still recommend it, simply with these provisos. As to the latter, the movie makes much of Christ's Lordship, the importance of the Bible, our need for forgiveness of sins and commitment to Christ, and the like. And it does what Hollywood is almost completely incapable of doing (or unwilling to do): it shows real, live, decent, three-dimensional practicing Christians in the course of daily lives and crises.

And that's all good.


Chris Anderson said...

You know, Dan, I've had many very conservative Christian friends say how much they like this movie. To be honest, I don't get it. It had tender moments, and the coach was particularly believable. But at the end, I thought I'd find out that it was written by Joel Osteen. "Happy, happy, happy." I also rolled my eyes a bit at the leaky canon thing, too.

Mercy, even Remember the Titans deals with real tragedy and grief---without the crippled guy getting better---and it has nothing to do with Christianity. I thought it was just sooooo Pollyanna. (Speaking of crippled guys, they didn't tie that loose end up, but I'm sure the father in a wheelchair amazingly is cured. Sequel?) The two trophies at the end? Insulting.

Call me hyper-critical. I've been called that before, shockingly. Thumb down.

DJP said...

Gosh, what a sourpuss! I bet you'd watch "Emperor's New Groove" and say, "Oh, that's stupid! Llama's can't talk!"


Obviously I share your concerns and most of your criticisms, Chris. But it's a film for the family. They tend to have happier endings. But I agree (see the review), it's over the top.

I think the Osteen comparison is harsh. The movie stresses getting into the Bible. When the students convert, they confess their sins to one another, and seek forgiveness. First thing that kid does when he's saved is seek out his father, ask his forgiveness, and submit to Christ's Lordship by affirming his need to respect his father.

Plus, even sounding the notes of "If you don't get a baby, will you still love the Lord" is, I think, un-Osteenish; plus the "win or lose."

Psh! You Fundies!

Chris Anderson said...

Okay. I hear you.

I agree that the "will you still love Him" message is healthy. Of course, as you noted, the other note sounded was: "If you still love the Lord when you don't get a baby (which is good), you'll get two...and a truck...and a raise...and two championships...and your house won't stink anymore...and punk teens will repent...and their dads will like you after all...and..." I also can't remember how explicit the gospel was. Remind me, oh movie guide?

Two more things, one negative and one positive: (1) Wasn't the kid who kicked the field goal against the Giants named David? Ugh. (2) Dan Aykroyd did a good job as the coach. Well done.

BTW, nice "swimmers" comment. :-)

"Miss Potter" is a nice family flick, BTW.

threegirldad said...

Llamas can't talk?! Gee, thanks, Dan. I'll never be able to watch it again. Of course, this will make my girls really sad, but I'll justify it in mind mind by telling myself that this will help them build character (or something like that).


Oh, and thanks for the tone of this review. It was quite refreshing. :-)

Chris Anderson: "Thumbs down"? Really? You can't even muster a "Thumbs sideways"??? Deep breaths, please. ;-)

Chris Anderson said...

If it weren't for the David & Goliath thing (NOOOOOOOOOO!), maybe I could give it a sideways. Sorry.

DJP said...

"Miss Potter"? Sounds like a chick flick, 3girl. (You could call me 1girl3boydad.)

P.D. Nelson said...

I'm sorry Dan you haven't convinced me this is something I want to spend money on. In fact I do believe that you driven me th other way. Looks like I'm hanging with Mr. Anderson.

threegirldad said...


I think you got my post confused with one from Chris Anderson. I hadn't even heard of "Miss Potter" until I read his comment - had to go look it up. I would probably like that movie -- I've been reading those books (and many others) to my girls since before they were born.

Chris Anderson said...

Yeah, I would be 4girldad, which would explain the chick flick. On the other hand, Dan, I think sports-themed movies are the best: Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, etc. What's your problem?

Beth said...

Sorry, Chris, you know we value your opinion, but this one made me weep buckets. And that's not the norm. :-)

I do "get" all the crits you voiced, but sometimes an innocent (albeit unrealistic) happy ending is a good thing. This is coming from a fan of Roman Holiday, which has no happy ending. And from someone who had no bio kids.

Cañarejo,MR said...

Praise God for this movie!!!!
My spiritual life was stimulated.
I was reminded how precious GOD is in my life.Since I've started putting all my trust in him everything got so wonderful. I can't explain this very unusual feeling of gladness!!! God filled the empitiness of my heart and I want to be in his presnce always.......

Having GOD is the greatest Treasure we have on earth.We might not recognized it because of the material things that blinded us. Thank you very much.......
May GOD Bless YOU always!!!! And I want to say that this is a very genuine and encouraging movie...

keanu said...

just to sum up this movie...

everything in this world i mean everything, even those who do not believe that Christ or God exist was created for God's glory....even you guys. and that what this movie is all about. you are getting baldy, no children, no scores on the win columns, paid low that one cannot afford to buy even a battery for the car (if one cannot buy a new car), getting kick out from your bad performance.. hey guys have you not experience failure in your life, this failures are being use by our God almighty for His Glory not to condemned you. You are always on top, well it only means that God is allowing that to happen to your life for what..."for His glory and not yours". so whoever the writer, director, cast or even production assistant is on this movie, they are nothing, this movie was made for His glory and His glory ALONE....

by the way i would love to read a comment from you guys,,, Godspeed!!!

keanu said...


The Purpose-Driven Life is a manifesto for Christian living in the 21st century...a lifestyle based on eternal purposes, not cultural values. Using biblical stories and letting the Bible speak for itself,

WORSHIP - We were planned for GOD'S PLEASURE

FELLOWSHIP - We were formed for God’s family

DISCIPLESHIP - We were created to become like Christ
MINISTRY - We were shaped for serving God

EVANGELISM - We were made for a mission

keanu said...




just pray to God

Lord i know i am a sinner, many things in the past i have made that was wrong, i believe that you were crucified on the cross for my sins, you died to show that everyone has its limited time on earth, but you have risen from the dead to fulfill your promise of another/eternal life after death comes to one person. i accept you as my Lord and Savior and that i will not be anymore the driver of my life but you, and that what you says goes, and i wanted You to use me for Your GLORY, i pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.