A Review of “Courageous” by my personal, favorite movie critic…

Toby Locke spent two years at Northridge Church as an intern. And while here, I occasionally called him "Hollywood" because of his vast knowledge of movies, his incredible memory of movies (I forget them, it seems, ten minutes after I see them), and his excellent observations and evaluations about movies.

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the movie "Courageous" and asked what people thought of it.

Toby commented on that blog, and I'm reprinting his comment here because it was so good, and I realize most don't read the comments section of my blog.

So – here is Toby's great evaluation of "Courageous." I still haven't seen the movie, but I trust his evaluation.

I realize that I'm about to go way over the top here, and no one probably cares quite enough to actually read this, but here we go…feel free to delete this if it's too long or boring.

I am predisposed to cringe whenever I hear of the most recent Christian film that is being released to theaters. However, I had found that "Fireproof" was good enough to merit a good look at "Courageous." Here's what I found (in case it's helpful to anyone)…

I was surprised by a lot of things:
1. The film is remarkably funny. (Most of) the jokes actually work, and the comedic timing of the main actors in the film is quite good.

2. "Courageous" was able to make a cynical moviegoer like me fall for their emotional scenes. I think I cried at two separate scenes, and I had walked into the movie steeling myself against falling for the tear-jerking scenes that are inevitable in any Christian movie.

3. The Christian themes were shown and filmed with remarkable restraint. The structure of "Fireproof" was centered around the Gospel presentation in the middle, and that was clearly the point of the film, to drive the actors (and the audience) to that point. The message about marriage was secondary to that purpose. "Courageous," I think, was really about fatherhood and the challenges that men in our society face today. Sure, there's a moment when the Gospel is shared in the film, but it didn't "take over" the story – and I thought that it fit right there.

4. The action sequences were well-shot and actually held me in a bit of suspense. No huge explosions, or anything, but genuinely interesting. The opening scene was gripping, as was a chase scene towards the middle of the story.

Okay, now for some of the issues I had with the movie:

1. The story stretched the boundaries of "the probable," but let's not forget that the reason that a story makes it onto the silver screen is because it is remarkable in some way – we go to the movies to watch things that DON'T often happen to "normal" people. So, this didn't really bother me much.

2. The movie IS emotionally manipulative – it reminded us of a male movie version of a "women of faith" conference, where every horrible tragedy that could ever possibly happen to someone all happens in one two-hour movie. I went from laughing uproariously to crying over painful losses, sometimes within five minutes. Walking away, I felt drained and a bit jerked around like a puppet.

3. (This is a minor one, but it irked me.) I can't prove this, but I'm almost certain that they had the hispanic couple speak with a fake spanish accent. I have lived in South America, and spent a lot of time with people who live in the States who are of Hispanic origin – and I have never heard anyone speak English the way that that particular couple spoke English. The accent sounded like what an Anglo English-speaker IMAGINED a Mexican person would sound like who had moved to the States and learned English. I can't wait until the DVD comes out and they have a "Behind-the-Scenes" featurette and you hear the Hispanic couple speak perfect English. But again, that's a minor issue, it just irked me in an off-hand kind of way.

All said, I was glad to pay full-ticket price to support a film that was well-made and represented values that I think are important. It was easily a B+ movie, and maybe even an A-.

God bless, enjoy the film!


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