I could talk about the not-so-great acting, the clumsy cinematography, the odd choice of 1997 for the frame story, the cliched portrayal of the South, or the weirdly placed, not funny, and way-too-long cameo scene by a guy who I can only assume is from Duck Dynasty. Or about twenty other things. But really, this film was doomed before they ever shot a scene.
The writing, the writing, the writing.
Not just that so many”‘jokes” fell flat and so many “dramatic moments” didn’t work, or that the road trip frame story was so cliche, but really basic plot points just did not make sense. For instance (just one of the many), people with at least $1200 in cash and a functioning car don’t sleep outside when the first motel they try is full. They drive to the next motel.
The concept has merit. Two guys connect in an effort to learn more about their fathers who had both died in the Vietnam War. Great potential for a powerful story with lots of tension, depth, wrestling with pain and loss, and struggling with faith.
But, instead, we got, as Justin Chang from Variety described it, “a clumsily told story of friendship and wartime remembrance that has a tough time serving up a halfway believable moment, let alone a moving and powerful testimony about the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
I’m so tired of reading these kinds of reviews of Christian movies. And writing them. We have got to do better. If we want to portray “a moving and powerful testimony about the Lordship of Jesus Christ” in film, we’ve got to learn how to write. I mean,really write.
The well-known screenwriting guru Robert McKee wrote, “Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound material badly told, an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly.” (Story, p. 28)
As Christians, we have the most profound material in the universe. But if it’s badly told, people will choose the trivial.
We know that to be true. Just look at how many people tune into The Kardashians every week.
Official trailer of Faith of our Fathers