God’s Not Dead

20140408-122053.jpgWhat would you do if you showed up at your new college, went to your philosophy class, and were ordered by your professor to agree that “God is dead”? What would you do if he told you that your refusal to sign would require you to prove in three lectures that God is not dead? What if your girlfriend threatened to leave you and your professor to ruin you if you took the challenge?

For Josh Wheaton, college freshman and dedicated Christian, there can be only one answer.

Take the challenge and tell the world that God is definitely not dead. In fact, He’s very much alive.

The Live

This is a film that clearly proclaims the gospel, along with the power and goodness of God. It doesn’t get too preachy, and does a pretty good job weaving Christianity into the story naturally. It also does a pretty good job of weaving a lot of different storylines together. Each storyline has a slightly different message to offer. Josh learns that God will bless his faith and his courage. A pastor learns that being faithful in the little things is just as important as “being on the front lines” and that God is in control of everything–even cars that refuse to start. A conflicted girlfriend learns to see herself the way God does, and that she doesn’t need attention from anyone to make her worthy. And yet not everyone learns better. A quintessentially selfish businessman exits the story the exact same man as when he entered it.

None of these morals hit the audience over the head too badly, with some of them even left to the viewer to figure out for themselves. Everyone doesn’t live happily ever after, but the central characters do discover God’s faithfulness.

The film is also technically excellent. The cinematography was artistic without trying to be too clever, and the filmmakers did a good job overall of showing instead of telling. The acting was superb almost across the board, and the emotion was portrayed powerfully. Together, these aspects create a film that definitely has the potential to inspire and get people thinking.

The Deadly

Unfortunately, the film had too many flaws for me to wholeheartedly endorse it as I wish I could. Almost all the characters are unrealistic and two-dimensional from beginning to end, making it hard to take their lessons seriously. All the atheists in the story are stereotypically and over-the-top bad, with one even remarking “I’m the meanest person I know.” One atheist is outright verbally abusive, to the point that I was honestly a bit scared when one scene left him alone in an elevator with the protagonist. Not only is this not true to real life (many atheists are kind people, and most mean people hide it a little better than these characters), but it gets a little tiring to watch after awhile.

To be fair, the atheists aren’t the only mean ones. One character’s Christian girlfriend angrily leaves him because what he believes to be the right thing to do might interfere with her plans for their lives. My question is why he didn’t see her selfishness previously in their six-year dating relationship, especially since it was obvious to me in the first ten minutes of the film.

But then, there are a lot of confusing or just plain absent motivations in this film. One major character has a sudden dramatic change of heart for unclear reasons… presumably because his girlfriend stood up to him and an eighteen-year-old kid humiliated him in front of his class. Other characters swing from one state of mind to the next with seemingly small reasons.

On a theological note, the idea of trying to prove or defend God is shaky at best. For one thing, the very idea that anything can prove God implies that something has higher authority than He does. For another, statistics and science cannot convince someone to believe. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Yes, He can use anything to touch people’s hearts for Him. But turning to reason as a basis for faith is troubling. We don’t believe because our minds are convinced, we believe because our hearts are changed by God.

I also found Josh’s answer to the question of why there is evil in the world concerning. Whether you believe in free will or not, his reply didn’t indicate that evil has any greater purpose in God’s plan, which is a very depressing point of view, and not one that I believe Scripture teaches.

The Verdict

From my criticisms, it probably sounds like I hated God’s Not Dead. I didn’t. I thought it had merit, and even that it was worth seeing. I think it has the potential to be used by God. I’m grateful for the courage that led the filmmakers to boldly and openly proclaim our King.

I was just disappointed to see that in the end, the story wasn’t able to shake off many of the stereotypes, bad writing, and unrealistic content that has tended to characterize Christian films. It accomplished a lot of things. I just hope that we’ll start seeing some Christian films with better writing in the near future.

I’d give this one 2.5 stars out of five.

After Earth

After-Earth-2013-Forest-ViewThousands of years in the future, man no longer lives on earth. They live on foreign planets. Full of terrible creatures and inhospitable conditions. The reason for this? Pollution of course. Destruction of the natural resources resulted in a planet barren and uninhabitable. However, Earth is a fighting planet, and through the course of thousands of years, it has regrown and rebirthed. Earth remembers what killed it for centuries- Man. So now, everything has regrown and evolved to do one thing.

Kill Humans.

So the humans live on other worlds, relying on the Rangers to protect them against fearsome beasts. The greatest of these beasts is the Ursa. A creature who cannot see, but hunts through sensing fear in its prey. They are deadly, as one look at them and instant your heart would jump into your mouth. Kitai’s father, has been the only one to “Ghost” or to be completely without fear in the face of certain death, and has killed many- protecting the remaining mankind. Kitai desires, and longs to be a Ranger like his father, but events of the past and decisions of the present have kept him from realizing this goal.

When his father invites him on a spaceship ride to accompany him on a mission, he accepts. But something goes terribly wrong, a space storm hits their ship, and they must crash land, then survive, on one planet.

That Planet, is earth.

Things I Liked

Cypher, Katai’s father, is man respected in the world, but not by his son. When he comes back from a trip, we see the divide between him and his family. His wife offers some excellent advice, when he voices his displeasure at being so distant from his son. “Katai doesn’t need a commanding officer, he needs a father.“. The next day, we see Cypher put that advice into action. He not only intentionally pursues and builds a better relationship with his son throughout this film, but also listens to and supports his wife in a sensitive way. Cypher is humanity’s best and most reliable solider, but he also has a heart who loves his family. That’s a real man.

Katai deals with many emotional wounds of the past, mainly the fact his sister was brutally mauled and killed by an Ursa when his father was away. He witnessed it at a very young age, but lived because she kept him sealed in a special case of glass. He feels guilt, anger, and confusion because of this event. He lashes out at his father, but Cypher always is there to firmly challenge him on what he thought. Never does Cypher tell him whether he was right or wrong. He treats his son like a man, and makes him figure it out for himself. To get past his fear, and to live decisively.

In the end this results in an incredibly display of father and son love and commitment to the other. It is the largest theme of this movie, and is portrayed in an excellent manner.

A solider, who just lost a leg, stands himself up to salute Cypher to show respect.

Things I Didn’t Like

There are a lot of graphic images of humans being killed, or have been killed by the Ursa. This includes men being impaled through the chest, mauled and thrown, and crushed. After the ship crashes, we are shown many dead bodies strewn throughout the wreckage. Later we see the other survivors, who left the ship, dead- impaled on trees. We see a pile of dead monkey bodies, limbs, and other appendages strewn across a clearing after a predator has done its work.

Cypher sustains some serious wounds in the crash, and he has to do some bloody work on himself to survive. This was more gruesome than the actual battles shown with the Ursa, as the blood flows freely on screen.

Kitai also has to face many dangerous things on earth. He is bitten by a leech and has to inject himself with serum to survive. He fights with a straight Sythe, which he uses to cut animals who would attack him. W In a dream he sees his sister with a bloody and beaten up face, who then warns Katai to wake up. The image is short, but creepy nonetheless.

Closing Thoughts

Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed. ~Cypher~

While advertised to be a survival action flick, After Earth delivers a surprisingly rich and message driven plot. One often lost in Science fiction movies. The movie shows a type of “Rite of Passage” for Kitai. He must deal with and face his past guilt. His indecision, his anger toward his father, and his pride in his abilities. Through the journey of recovering a rescue beacon, he learns being a Ranger is more than just following orders and Having skills. It is a matter of Character.

What is most sweet about this learning process, is his dad guides him through the entire process. Even though Kitai is at odds with him, and Cypher shows barely any love for his son, in the end, they work as a team which each learns from the other. They sacrifice for the other and work towards the common goal- working out disagreements and distrust. It was great to see a semi-accurate development of a father son bond, with respect going both ways by the completion of the journey.

This movie is also devoid of innapropriate sexual content, foul language, and over the top ridiculous special effects. It tells a uplifting story of boy and father versus the wild. I will say, the battles of boy vs beasty are quite intense, and there are some graphic images of dead animals, and people killed by the Ursa. This is what earned the film the PG-13 rating, and you should be aware of that if you check this one out.

To put it simply, After earth is everything it should be, and hardly anything it shouldn’t. Strong positive messages about the importance of family over careers, concepts of fear- how misplaced it is, and the growth of a boy into a man is something not only to applaud, but also to support and reflect upon.

The Wolverine

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A man can run out of things to live for.

When you are immortal, that phrase has a bittersweet ring. Logan has seen and done it all. Fought in every war since the Civil war, been everywhere in the world, and even saved the world by stopping a rouge mutant. But now, Logan lives without drive, without purpose. He has nightmares every-night of the ones he has loved and lost. Of the wars he has fought. Of the hundreds men he has killed. He decides that he isn’t going to be that monster anymore.

So he lives on a mountain unkept and alone with his nightmares. His only friend is the grizzly bear who roams the mountain with him. While he may not be the killing monster on the mountain, he is anything but at peace. When some hunters come with illegal weapons, and kill the bear. Logan seeks out vengeance on them. Before he can do so however, he is approached by a mysterious japanese woman who tells Logan her employer, Sir Yashida, has a gift for him. A thank you, for saving his life many years ago in WWII.

The Gift of peace. The Gift of Mortality.

Things I Liked

Logan (The Wolverine) appears to be a man of changed heart in this film. we find he lives by himself for one main reason- so he no longer hurts others. When called “The Wolverine” he replies- “That’s not who I am anymore.” In truth, we see that change of character come out in Logan through the movie. When Yashida offers this gift, Logan goes mainly out of politeness. He respects the dying man’s wishes to thank him in person one last time.

When He arrives in Japan, he finds himself in the midst of a feud. He chooses to protect the daughter of Yashida when assassins come. And that is his prevailing purpose in the film. “Think of me as your bodyguard” Logan tells her. What makes that interesting though, is he is tricked into becoming mortal. For at time at least. During this time, he learns bullets are dangerous, and what it means to be vulnerable. “I’ve never had to ask for help before.” he tells Mariko, Yashida’s Daughter. Watching him learn to live as such was a great thing, and I appreciated again things I had taken for granted in everyday life. Logan also sacrifices much in this movie. He risks his mortal life protecting others. And through that he begins to find his purpose once again.

Things I Didn’t Like

The Wolverine isn’t the most violent of films when you add up the body count, but it could be argued it is the most savagely violent of the X-Men Series. Logan slices, impales, thrashes, and throws many would be assassins to their deaths in various scenes. He throws a man off a balcony. He stabs the illegal hunter’s hand with the man’s own poisoned arrow. We watch the man’s reaction to the poison. In his nightmares, we see him accidentally kill people he loves. Logan at one point, cuts open his own chest.

A antagonist mutant, Vyper, kills various people with kisses of poison. She kills a man with a poisoned pen. She tortures men by scratching them, them breathing poison onto their face. She also sheds her face, which results in a kinda creepy scene.

Other hordes of ninjas/assassins shoot people with arrows, rods, and swords. in one scene, Logan takes dozens to his back. In fact, Logan gets pretty beat up in the movie too. When he is mortal, he is shot several times, and he realizes that healing isn’t something his body does anymore. So wounds and such remain on him, blood and all. When he regains his power, he is sliced and cut and impaled in ways which are incredibly painful to him. Early on in Nagasaki, we see his body burned an charred while protecting a Japanese solider, and the painful process of his body instantly healing him.

Logan winds up kissing Mariko, and sleeping in the same bed with her at a secret refuge. Mariko wears a thin nightgown. Logan often goes shirtless. In one scene he is being given a bath by some old Japanese Maids and we see a bit of his rump. Another scene shows a politician who is busted by Logan, is found with three young women all in lingerie and is shown for a few seconds before they all flee.

Logan drops an F-Bomb, and several other curse words. Included are D—, B—–, and S—. God’s name is used in Vain twice.

Closing Thoughts

Your grandfather called me a ronin, a samurai without a master. Destined to live forever, with no purpose to serve. ~The Wolverine~

The tale of the Wolverine is a darker one in the Marvel series. A tragic hero, we see Logan suffer so much, even though he will live forever. It is painful to watch Logan experience such sorrow and grief over losing people he loved, because he couldn’t die with them. This movie, taking place after the third X-men, shows Logan at the bottom of the barrel with some of the most intense violence of the series.

The Wolverine rips open the idea that Eternity on this earth isn’t a gift or remotely desirable, and kills it with savage intensity. Showing that it is a curse which brings only sorrow and misery if you have no eternal purpose. Wolverine found his purpose in the movie, the credits rolled, and people moved on. What the movie fails to mention, is that purpose, when rooted in the world, will change based on circumstance.

The tragedy of the Wolverine lies not in the fact Logan lives forever, but the fact he will be forever wandering trying to find himself in the world. As Christians, we know without Christ, that walk can, and will last forever if you are immortal on the world. Only Christ can quench the thirst men crave for ultimate purpose. While Logan is lost to this fact, we can perhaps guide others to it through this film. Not to say by any means is The Wolverine full of redeeming value. But this is one rare film where the internal struggle and resulting destruction shows what a man can do without any lasting purpose in his life. That is something to definitely challenge others in, and ask if they are doing the same.

Monster’s University

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It has been Mike Wizowski’s dream since first grade to be a scarer. Finally, he has made it to Monster’s University. the Ivy League school in scaring careers. When he gets to the class though, he find monsters much scarier than himself. One in particular names James P. Sullivan.

Sullivan is a famous name in the scaring world, and James is pretty sure becoming drafted for a scarer is a walk in the park. Mike however, is determined not to be sent home. The study begins. Mike spends the time reading books and doing all kinds of prep. Sully Spends it attending parties.

When the day of the exam comes, each are prepared in their own way. But do they have enough to be one of the best scarer’s of the class?

Things I Liked

After 12 long years, the greatly anticipated sequel for Monster’s Inc. has been released. It is great to see some well known characters, albeit in a younger fashion. Of course, the two main characters are Mike and Sully. Mike is a nerd and Sully is the cool guy on the block. We know theses guys are best friends, and this movie tells the story of how that happens.

Mike is the cliche perfect student. He gets straight A’s, is super friendly (though no one like him much), and even has a retainer to boot. Mike’s work ethic is something to be commended. We see him study and put his whole self into whatever it is. That can be a book, a game, or a competition. There is no halfway for the passionate Wizowski. Something we definitely can learn from.

Sully is the opposite of Mike. He is big, scary, a cool guy, and lives life with the entitlement of the last name he carries. His father was a famous scarer, and he thinks that is enough to get him to work for Monster’s Inc. He doesn’t study but instead parties. He hangs out with the cool kids at the expense of other Monster’s feelings getting hurt. What he learns however is- a last name does not a good monster make. We see him learn, often the hard way, that if you want something in life, then you have to work for it. Cheating, partying, and degrading others will get you places in the short term, but that’s it.

These two guys start off on the wrong foot, and generally go through the whole movie fighting each other for the position of scarer. Mike has the wits, Sully has the brawn. They learn through some bad choices they make (which get them trapped again in the human world) that both of them are imperfect, and both have specific strengths. They learn what being a “team” means, and is is quite cool to watch how that happens.

There is no profanity nor is God’s name taken in vain.

As always, Pixar dazzles you with bright colors, creative creatures, and a charming screenplay in terms of humor, story, and characters. This Prequel tips it’s hat to many things in the first movie. It tells why Randall hates Sullivan so much. It shows characters we know from the past like Roz. It explains how the doors work and are made. And more. It is a very well thought through and developed film, and very enjoyable to watch.

Things I didn’t Like

Perhaps the scene I have the most issue with, occurs when the Scare games are taking place. The Scare games are a series of challenges designed for competition among groups in the University. After a particularly hard loss, Mike breaks his team into private property for Monster’s Inc. After they are inspired, they get caught, and they race out of the property and get away. There is no consequences for this action, nor is it even implied that it  was wrong.

This movie is full of slapstick humor and scaring (of course). Monsters are pricked with urchin-like objects and swell to immense size. They get thrown out of a building, run over by a cleaning machine, and are spanked with wooden paddles. In order to return to the monster world, Mike and Sully have to scare people. They way they do this can be frightening for younger children- so bear that in mind.

Other minimal things include a pretty cruel prank pulled on Mike’s team at a sorority party. There are some awkward comments about a guy telling a college student who is marrying his mother “Just view me like an older brother married to your mother. Wait- No…

Closing Thoughts

“You aren’t scary Mike, but you are fearless.” ~James Sullivan~

Unlike so many other movies, Mike is not happy being good. He wants to be great. He wants to succeed and is passionate in working to that goal. What he finds though, is he is not cut out to be a scarer. Through the whole movie we see him trying to be someone he is not. And the results on a personal level, are devastating. To often we hear the phrase “You can do anything if you believe in yourself.” in modern society. This is incredibly false. There are some things people can’t do which others can. We are designed to do specific things. Mike believed with all his heart he could be a scarer, but when push came to shove- he couldn’t do it. We can’t do things which we weren’t designed to do, and this movie shows that incredibly well.

In the Monster World, scarers are the equivalent of our sports and hollywood stars. They are elite and worshiped by many. Scarers are put on immense pedestals of importance. And if you aren’t scary, well, you’re worthless. This film shows that just because you aren’t “famous”, doesn’t mean you are worthless. We see Mike, after not being a scarer, choose to excel in “menial” jobs, and he is rewarded for it. It was a perfect example of being faithful in the little things, because they are just as important as the big things.

While not quite topping the original Monster’s Inc. , Monster’s University is a more than adequate prequel and welcome addition to the monster world pixar has created. Monster’s University has everything we’ve come to expect in a Pixar film- A touching story, some great laughs, and memorable characters. Solid values and minimal potty humor make this one I’ll not only be recommending to others, but adding it to my collection.  We don’t need to be scared of this film- it definitely passed the test.

Jurassic Park

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What if we somehow, someway, could bring back dinosaurs? What color would they be? What would they sound like? How would they act?

John Hammond has found a way to bring dinosaurs back. With all of their secrets. Through DNA preservation, filling, and extensive scientific genius he has created a park. It is filled with Dinosaurs of all kinds, and has grand and glorious expectations of making it an incredibly profitable theme park. Think of a Zoo, on steroids.

So he brings in a panel of people to review his masterpiece. Some love it, some hate it, and some… want to steal it. Regardless of their opinions however, a storm comes through and kocks out the power grid containing all the dinosaurs on the island. Including the T-rex, and Velociraptors.

Now it is a perilous and mad rush to escape the island. The predators have other plans however. It becomes a fight of survival of the fittest. And who is more fit? Man, or Dinosaur? These poor folks are about to find out.

Things I Liked

While the first thing you think of when hearing “Jurrasic Park” may be Dinos eating people, there are some postive elements in this movie. The largest one is probably the view of man manipulating nature. John is accused of Playing God in the movie. Taking an extinct species, rebuilding the DNA, and releasing them back into the wild. All for the purpose of making money in an amusement park. The consequences of these actions are profound, and it is very telling of what happens when man thinks he knows better than God in how the world should operate.

Another character, Dr. Alan Grant, had this thing against kids. Through the movie however, we see him stuck with two children and he learns kids aren’t that bad. He also risks his life on several occasions to save the children, which takes guts, when the attacker is a T-Rex. He and his assistant, Ellie, are people of character who continually put themselves in harms way to protect others.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie is famous for a reason, and that reason is not from acting, a powerful story, or otherwise. It is famous because digitized Dinosaurs run around, chase people, and eat them. In this movie, I was surprised how low the body count was, but revolted at how those few bodies went. One guy is poisoned in the face, and then jumped on by little dinosaurs. A man hiding in the bathroom is picked up by the T-rex and viciously shaken back and forth, we hear his back snap, and then watch and the T-rex swallows him whole. Another guy, hunting a velociraptor, is tricked by the beasts and pounced upon. Lastly, we see the remains of a man. That is- his bloody arm, in a particularly tense scene.

Otherwise, there is a lot of chasing in the movie. People are always running from something, and while it may sound ridiculous on paper, the music score combined with dark sets makes a particularly scary experience. There is cursing, and God’s name is used in vain as well. Some derogatory crude speech is used, and a man is reprimanded for saying he should go outside to get something, instead of a girl.

Closing Thoughts

“God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates dinosaurs.”

Jurassic park has three prevailing themes. One, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Two, never try to play God. Three, don’t fight dinosaurs- they always win and get lunch at the same time.

John had an idea and pursued it wholeheartedly. However, he failed to think about the impending consequences of such a plan. One thing we can be reminded of when watching this movie is to really think through our actions and to take the feedback we are given. He didn’t, and the results were terrible.

The idea of “playing God” as quoted in the movie was fascinating to me, as they clearly rejected such a Creator when speaking of evolution. When things got serious though, it was incredible how quickly they resorted back to the idea of a supreme creator who has a hand over all nature. In our age of incredible scientific advancement, it would be wise to consider this movie when attempting to do this which indeed are unnatural. They disrupted the state of nature, by bringing from the dead dinosaurs using genetic manipulation and cloning. Something our society is pursing today.

But while these themes are excellent to consider and put forth in a persuasive fashion, it is that persuasive attempt which makes this movie about as appealing as meeting a velociraptor in real life. Granted, most of the time people are being chased around with great background music, the few deaths which are shown are gruesome and terrifying indeed. And if you aren’t careful- you start to enjoy seeing these massive beasts “live” in the world which they are placed. The hunting, and the aftermath.

In short, Jurassic park is a great idea conceptually, but when it hits the picture, instead of seeing a film focused on man’s mistakes and learning from them, you see for about an hour people getting chased, killed, and eaten by dinosaurs we have only imagined. The message, already small and weak, is crushed by the prehistoric predator’s actions in relating and dining on humans. The movie is no walk in the park, more like a mad rush through a dark alley.

Expecting at any moment, that one predator is going to jump out, and get you.

Remember the Titans

remember_the_titansBased heavily on a real life drama, Remember the Titans is a story set in 1971 Virginia, amidst the tension of forced integration between black and white schools.

Denzel Washington plays coach Boone, a no-nonsense taskmaster sent to Williams High (the white school that the black school is integrating into) to replace the leadership of the much loved white coach Yoast. Despite their difference in coaching styles, and the less than ideal circumstances in which they are placed, these two men must battle their own pride and bigotry in order to lead their team of athletes not only on the field in victory, but also through the turmoil of life and a divided community.

Positive Elements

I’m really not sure where to begin because honestly, this is one of the best movies I have seen in years. I’m not sure how this beautiful movie (and the real-life story) managed to evade me for so long!

Remember the Titans is a spectacular, powerful film that shows virtuous behavior, projects an old-fashioned respect for discipline, teaches integrity, honors the Christian faith, and depicts real character-building lessons throughout the movie.

We see coaches stand up to corruption and make choices as to whether they want to be men of integrity, or whether they are willing to compromise what is right in order to get what they really want. We see an injured player refuses to wallow in self-pity. We see boys become men, learn about real friendship, undergo tremendous personal growth—even minor characters experience growth.

The real focus of this film (character-wise) centers on the shoulders of Coach Yoast and Coach Boone, two men who were as extraordinary in real life, as they were in the film. However, this movie was filled with many other great characters, especially when it came to the boys on the football team. However, my favorite duo (besides the coaches) were Gary and Julius, two young men that start out the movie with nothing but hatred towards one another for the color of their skin, but quickly learn to respect one another and become much more than just fellow teammates. These two boys also provide great opportunity to discuss the type of team leadership that’s necessary to bring guys together for a common cause.

Negative Elements

This film has no drug content, no sexual content, no crud humor, and next to no violence (other than the typical bruising that comes with the football turf). In fact, the only negative elements to this movie are as follows:

According to Walt Disney Studios chair Peter Schneider, Titans underwent severe rewrites after the script was brought to him. In the original script, every third word was the n-word, every fourth word was the f-word, and every sixth word was the s-word, which didn’t fly. Before the film was given the okay by Peter Schneider and the two real life coaches, Boone and Yoast, all that remained were less than a handful of mild profanities.

In addition to the profanity, Remember the Titans obviously has some racial issues surging through it. A brick is thrown through Coach Boone’s house window. His wife hurries the children into another room while Coach Boone grabs a rifle and prepares to shoot the trespassers. Nobody comes in, though; all we see is a car speeding away. This is not the only instance where racial violence is shown, but it should be noted that this movie does not support racism in any way. It boldly decimates the dividing lines between segregation and has several powerful scenes that deal with the negative effects of racism.

Controversy

Since seeing Remember the Titans I have had several people say that they are surprised I saw the film due to the fact that it portrays a homosexual character. Because I know this is the reason why many people will not see this movie, I thought it was worth addressing in its own category.

Here is a quote from someone who saw the film and felt that Sunshine’s character promoted homosexuality: “Sunshine’s shower scene where he kissed another player in an attempt to seduce him was disgraceful. Disney’s attempt to include this behavior on a equal social level with racial concerns was disgusting and obviously in an effort to normalize and encourage acceptance!”

Now, I would like to point out that Sunshine does kiss another character in an attempt to “pay back” an offensive comment made earlier by the character getting kissed (Gerry). However, it was not sexual in any way, but rather locker room tomfoolery used to put Gerry in his place (though I don’t condone this use of tomfoolery).

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the character of Sunshine was not gay. When his father (a military man who has served with black men on the front lines and therefore he and his son “sunshine” have no tolerance for bigotry and racism) brings him to training camp, Gerry yells “hey you fruitcake!” Gerry makes this comment because Sunshine (who’s real name we never learn) shows up to camp with long blond hair (he and his Father just transferred from California where Sunshine liked to ride the waves).

Now, the thing to remember about this movie is first of all, the time period. This is the south in the early 1970’s. Long hair on a young man back then insinuated that he was a hippie, a drug addict, or gay. Therefore, upstanding young men like Gerry would not associate with someone who looked like Sunshine because of the association his hair carried. It was another form of discrimination, essentially.

Coach Boone offers Sunshine a place on the team for two reasons. 1.) he’s got good skills, and 2.) he comes from an environment that doesn’t tolerate racism, which would be a valuable asset to the team, especially considering their struggles with the topic. However, coach Boone has one requirement. Sunshine has to cut his hair, which he willingly does.

Sunshine is not gay. He’s not a hippie. He’s not a drug addict. He’s actually a really good kid, as everyone later learns when they give him a chance, and he stands up for what is right.

The incidents with Sunshine (who was a real person) are just another way that the filmmakers are trying to deal with prejudice on all levels. Even prejudice within one’s race, as was the case with Sunshine. And, just like with the racism, Sunshine was not who he was said to be, anymore than the black boys on the team were who the bigots said they were.

Conclusion

Remember the Titans is a must see movie. I was not only inspired by watching the actions of this team who not only changed their school, but also their town, but I also felt a huge amount of pride. Pride that good men still exist and they are still willing to stand up for what was right. As I began to watch documentaries on Coach Boone and Yoast (who are still very close even today in their old age) I found myself impressed with the filmmakers, too. They chose to listen to the stories told by these two men and truly portray them. As I listened to the two coaches talk about their boys and the struggles they went through, I could see the close parallels between their stories and the movie’s depiction of those stories.
There were many struggles involved with making this movie. Many people did not want it made. Others didn’t believe in the film and thus cut the film’s budget to the point where the movie could no longer be produced. But the men and women behind this film believed in it, and they believed in the story that needed telling. Several of the actors, including Denzel Washington, took heavy pay cuts in order to get the film back into production. And the end result was an amazing movie that earned its place on my favorite’s shelf.

If you watch this film, I promise you that you and your family will Remember the Titans.

Everyone’s Hero

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Yankee Irving has always wanted to make the big hit. The swing that wins the game. The run that will make him a hero. Sadly however, on a sandlot with kids twice his age, that chance doesn’t come often. Then when it does, he fails. Miserably.

Depressed more than usual one night, his dad decides to show him Babe Ruth’s bat. The legendary “Darlin’ “. Yankee adores Babe Ruth, and loves the opportunity to view it. The next day, it is found the bat is stolen, and his dad is fired because of it. With some deductive skills and some baseball cards, Yankee figures out that the opposing team’s pitcher- Lefty MacGinnis stole the bat to keep the Yankees from winning the world series.

No one believes him however, so he sets off to recover the bat himself and get his dad’s job back. With the help of a wisecracking baseball, he finds his way to the thief. But when the time comes to step up to the plate and save his dad’s job, will he make that hit he has dreamed of? Or strike out like he always has before?

Things I Liked

Yankee is a young boy with whom many people can relate. He wants to make the big play and help his team, but he always winds up hurting them instead. Through the movie we see him over and over fail in his attempts to help others. We see however, failure isn’t permanent, and shouldn’t put you down. Yankee learns this from his parents and several others along his path of rescuing Darlin’. Yankee’s motivation in this movie is not fame, glamour, or riches… It is simply to get his dad’s job back by finding the stolen bat. He loves his parents, and goes across the US to help them.

Speaking of parents, Yankee’s are quite a commendable mother and father. This family isn’t broken, divorced, or angry. It is a simple one where the mom encourages and the dad teaches. Yankee loves them immensely and is respectful. He obeys and takes a punishment even though he knows he did nothing wrong. It is a great lesson and example to young kids regarding submission to those in authority over you. That they aren’t always right, but we should obey them anyway.

Many people are encouragers in this movie. Older folks teach and encourage Yankee to continue doing what he is doing. A girl gives him support when some bullies come around to give Yankee trouble. Even Yankee gives encouragement and hope to Screwy the baseball and Darlin’. When Yankee meets Babe Ruth, we see Babe also support and encourage Yankee in actions which some say are ridiculous. The power of sweet words is shown all throughout the movie.

Things I Didn’t Like

While this movie is mostly clean, there is a bit of crude humour and violence to be aware of. Lefty gets beaten up quite a bit via comic style violence. He is shocked with lightning, takes a couple crotch shots, slams into poles, chokes on a clothesline, and get run over by a train (not shown). He makes it out every-time with some bruising and dirt on his face.

Screwy makes some crude jokes about beans and the underwear drawer. There isn’t any profanity, but rude words are used occasionally such moron, jerk, butt, name calling, etc. Lefty has a “booger ball” as one of his pitches, which he blows his nose on the baseball. We see Screwy covered in snot.

Yankee runs away from home to rescue Darlin’ and leaves a note explaining where he has gone. This opens up good opportunities to discuss with kids why/if they would run away from home. It should be noted this is something which is not encouraged, but justified in the movie.

Closing thoughts

 “You can be the smallest, you can be the weakest, you can be the worst player on the field, but when people tell you you’re no good, and say you should give it up, you know what you do? You just keep on swinging.”

Everyone’s hero is a film with a message of perseverance and endurance of character. We see the message of never giving up. Unlike other films though, which focus on a single hero making it, for the most part, on his own. This movie takes a refreshing turn and demonstrates just how important encouragement and mentoring is for a young person’s success. Without the dozens of people involved in helping Yankee in his trek, he would have given up a long time ago.

Kids too, can benefit from watching this movie in seeing a kid they can relate to submitting to those above him, and wanting to help his family. Then, seeing the reward which comes from doing the right thing… Even when it is hard.

This movie isn’t as well animated as Pixar films, it isn’t as funny, it isn’t as compelling either. However, it tells an exceptionally clean and rewarding story about a boy and his desire to serve others. It is because of that story, that Everyone’s hero is indeed a Home Run. A movie which the entire family can enjoy, and everyone- adults included, can learn from.

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