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DVD Review: Tribute to fatherhood: not subtle, but sincere Bill Fentum, Feb 8, 2012
PHOTO BY TODD STONE
In 'Courageous' a police officer (Alex Kendrick) renews his dedication to God and family, inspiring others to do the same.
By Bill Fentum Associate Editor
Courageous Rated PG-13 for some violence and drug content
Early in Courageous—the latest movie from faith-based entertainment leader Sherwood Pictures—a police chief cites a grim reality: most teen pregnancies, drug addictions, youth crime and gang involvement afflict homes where fathers are either absent or neglectful.
The chief wants his officers to consider those issues, both on the streets and in their personal lives. One of them, Adam Mitchell (played by director/co-writer Alex Kendrick) is about to lead the way.
Adam already knows he isn’t the perfect dad. Over time he has slowly distanced himself from his teenage son, and while he cherishes his 9-year-old daughter, even she can’t talk him into something as simple as dancing with her for a moment. He faces too much stress on the job and too many responsibilities to bother with such things. Or, so he thinks.
Then a tragic loss forces him to re-evaluate, and embrace what he has left. With support from his wife Victoria (Renee Jewell), Adam recommits himself to his family. He explores Scripture to understand God’s will for a husband and father, and even drafts a personal resolution on paper to make it official.
Adam asks three fellow officers and another friend to hold him accountable to the pledge, but they do it one better: The men all commit to the same resolution in a public ceremony—officiated by clergy—each one vowing to “protect, serve and honor” his loved ones and to “teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.” The text goes on a while, with a promise to “confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.”
As one might expect, later scenes depict the men facing moral tests that either reveal the title characteristic and strengthen their family bonds, or show the potential for sin and, ultimately, the need of loving forgiveness.
Mr. Kendrick and his brother Stephen (producer and co-writer) launched their company in 2002 as a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. As with past projects (Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof), the church offers Bible studies tied to Courageous—and separate “Resolution” guides for men and women.
For some people (myself included) it all feels too pedantic on-screen, more of a sermon than a dramatic narrative, the messages driven home with insistent, over-the-top background music. Many others, though, will appreciate Courageous as a reverent study of faith at work in the world.
In truth it’s all a matter of perspective, and both points-of-view are valid. We can agree that the players—about half of them professional actors, half volunteers from the church—give it their best, and the sincerity of the whole enterprise is never in doubt. That, at least, deserves a measure of praise.