Sony // 2006 // 111 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // September 29th, 2009
Never give up. Never back down. Never lose faith.
This is the third of Alex Kendrick's films that I've reviewed for DVD Verdict, and I feel like I'm about to repeat myself. I'm going to level the same faint praise and the same condemnations that I did for both Flywheel and Fireproof. And I'm doing all of this realizing that this review will be read by devout Christians that think this film is a godsend and by unbelievers who will put it back on the shelf the moment they realize what it is.
Grant Taylor (director Alex Kendrick) has been the coach of the Shiloh Eagles for a few years. These have not been great years of football, and now he feels like things are slipping out of control. He has a team of weak players (all named after Old Testament characters), a crappy car, and a wife that wants to get pregnant but can't. When he discovers that his job is in danger, he buckles down and turns to God. This sudden burst of faith changes everything.
The biggest complaint I have with Facing the Giants is its unrelenting predictability. If you have seen a handful of sports movies before, you will be able to see each twist and turn in the road before it arrives. Of course, that's not hard to do when the road is so straight and even. The team keeps losing until Coach Taylor finds God. Then they win almost consistently through the rest of the film. Yawn. If the football sequences had been filmed better this might be tolerable, but it's really only possible to know what's happening from the reactions of the characters.
Much more disconcerting is the message behind the plot. This film promises that with a bit of faith and prayer, God will deliver everything on a silver platter. Football skills, new cars, vanishing money problems, infertility...life with God is easy as pie. There are many people that do not realize their dreams, often not for a lack of trying and sometimes not for a lack of faith. The reality? This is a film targeted at Christian families, especially at children who will eat up the promise that faith will give them the world. Ten years from now, these kids will realize Facing the Giants was wrong. Even if you believe that everything is possible with God, there's no guarantee that you'll get what you want. Faith is easy when it all goes your way.
If Kendrick can be relied on for anything, it's delivering predictable and digestable entertainment. For those that can buy into the film's plot, dialogue, and philosophy, it offers a couple hours of disposable but rousing entertainment. Doubtless, youth groups all over America are being fed this movie, and they could probably do worse. At least they won't be lost or confused.
This is also a pretty solid release. The video transfer is excellent, though a close look reveals the low budget of the film. Still, it's a clear upgrade from the level of detail on DVD. The sound is about the same, though it never stands out for a DolbyHD track. There are a number of special features, including a commentary track, some bloopers, deleted scenes, and a couple featurettes. Fans of the film will have lots to dig through here.
Facing the Giants is probably the best of Alex Kendrick's films, but it's the one that bothers me the most, both due to its predictable nature and troublesome moral. I know this won't keep Christian families from using it as a replacement for secular entertainment, but I hope these families will be critical of the implications here. For everyone else, this is a good one to skip -- there have been lots of better football films.
If anything is possible with God, why isn't this a better film?
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* Official Site