Judge David Johnson has a big decision to make: Ring Dings or Peanut Butter Twix tonight?
A family in crisis. A journey of hope.
Hey, guys…throw me a bone here.
Facts of the Case
When a husband and father dies in a tragic accident, his widow (Natalie Grant) is left traumatized and isolated. Worse, she feels helpless when it comes to her son, the emotionally damaged, constantly-bullied teenager, Jackson (Michael Rosenbaum—not *that* Michael Rosenbaum). Desperate to help this wreck of a kid, his mom calls in Wyatt (Rusty Whitener), her estranged father, to pump the kid with some good old-fashioned values.
Decision is a Christian film and not ashamed to flaunt it. I'm perfectly fine with that. In fact, I sympathize with the worldview espoused here. There is no beating around the bush; the gospel is spelled out, the story of the Atonement and salvation is explicitly detailed, and the main character has a straight-up "come to God" moment. Again, no problem with the message…but, wow is the messenger butt-ugly.
Biblically-based or not, Decision is brutal. The acting, writing, and pacing are all sub-standard and that's being kind. Natalie Grant is obviously not an actor (she's a singer) and it shows, as she fights her way through some heavy emoting. It's an admirable effort, but she just doesn't have the chops. The good news, she's not alone in her on-screen struggles. Rosenbaum essentially relies on the grimace and Whitener's delivery is so stilted and lethargic it becomes distracting. Billy Dean, who gets top billing, is barely even present.
The guts of the film is the bonding experience between Jackson and Wyatt. Same issues though. Sentimentality abounds and the Gospel message is pounded home, but the Decision's poor execution becomes too much of a weakness for any amount of earnestness to overcome. Even during the big Jesus moment, the narrative plods along, prompting me to beg for a Saul on the road to Damascus moment. Come on, just hit the kid with a blast of Divine light and spare us the wooden acting.
Apologies for my snark, but I have a hard time seeing what Decision is designed to do. It's designed to preach to the choir and maybe that's just what the filmmakers want. After all, a Bible study guide geared specifically towards churches and small groups is included. I can't see a non-believer finding any value in this film, though. Not that I would discount the power and the movement of the Holy Spirit or anything, but it's going to have to move in epic proportions to stir the hearts of anyone but the most ardent Christian.
The disc: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 surround, and the text-only Bible guide.
I don't question where these sentiments sprung from, but Decision does no favors to those of us pushing for high-quality God-focused moviemaking.
My decision? Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
• Bible Study Guide
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