I've been a big fan of the Sherwood brothers movies ever since I stumbled across the movie "Facing the Giants" on DVD several years ago. I think I may have even blogged about it back then. And I recommend it to everyone I have a chance to. Since then I have seen their other movies "Flywheel" and "Fireproof" and own the DVDs for FtG and FP (but not FW). I was very excited a couple years ago when I learned about their next movie framed in a police story and focusing on fatherhood. Well this weekend the day finally came and the movie "Courageous" was on my radar to see with the whole family. I ended up just taking the boys since Kathryne had other things to do today, but I plan on taking her to see it soon.
The movie centers around a group of men several of whom are police officers and face danger daily. Another who comes into their group struggles with the more mundane issue of just trying to feed his family. All of them face issues of how to be a good father. So many of the themes and situations hit home. As a father I struggle with all kinds of thoughts about what I'm doing right and wrong. How badly am I going to screw up my kids through my actions or inaction? Am I disconnected from my kids? What I am passing on to them?
The movie itself has some big changes from their previous films. It has the same gospel messages and may still feel a bit "preachy" to non-Christians. But the production values, acting, and story are all greatly improved. There was nothing in the production of this movie that you could look at an think it's not a standard Hollywood production (at least to my untrained, consumerish eye). But the drastic departure comes in the general tone of the movie. There is some serious tragedy going on here. It's an emotional roller coaster. I cried just about every other scene. There was the standard humorous banter between characters that we've seen in their previous films. But from the very start, there are no punches pulled. And there is no miraculous happy ending here. Just a lot of real life that is messy for all involved. I hate to say it, but I was really ready for this movie to be over. Not because it was bad or too long, but because I was emotionally exhausted. It is over 2 hours long and was emotionally draining.
It was also very challenging. Challenging to not be mediocre or "good enough". As a father. As a man. As a Christian. If you are a father you need to see this movie. If you have a father, you need to see this movie. If your father let you down and negatively impacted your life you really need to see this movie. Take your family. Take your friends. Support this high-quality Christian entertainment by going to the theater in the first week (or two). That is the critical time for the industry to judge the popularity of a movie. Let's help this one stick around for a while.
A couple caveats. I took Sean and Joshua. Sean was fine, but Joshua was a bit scared/bored/overwhelmed in many scenes. You be the judge of your children's readiness for this film. Also, it is PG-13 for some of these reasons and there is some violence and drug related content that the police deal with. The worst part about the PG-13 rating is the trailers and other promotions before the movie. The are a bit harsher than a G or PG rating would have warranted. But there wasn't anything that was so out of line that I wanted to leave or hide from little eyes and ears.
The movie website has the opening scene available for you to watch, but please head out to the theater soon.
Movie Website: http://www.courageousthemovie.com/
Plugged-in Review: http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/courageous.aspx
Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/courageous/