MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Alex Kendrick. Starring Priscilla C. Shirer, T.C. Stallings.
Alex and Stephen Kendrick are two brothers who have successfully written and directed Christian films that have celebrated the themes of family, faith, and courage (Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants) while appealing to a broad Christian audience. With a big push from Christian media, their films pack movie theaters with faithful churchgoers who normally shy away from secular films. Their movies have created a market for faith-based films such as God’s Not Dead and Soul Surfer.
The story of War Room is simple: A young professional couple (Shirer and Stallings) are enjoying all of the benefits of an upwardly mobile lifestyle. Ted is the top salesman for a major pharmaceutical company and Elizabeth is a real estate agent. They have an adorable daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts) who is doing well in school (straight As, with one C in math).
Their marriage, however, is falling apart. Ted spends a lot of time away from home and works long hours that keep interfering with family time. Elizabeth often gets home late, making coldcut sandwiches for supper. The arguments are loud and often (according to Danielle, talking to her close friend) and they just don’t seem to go to church as often as they should.
When Elizabeth meets Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), a retired widow whose house she hopes to sell, she finds an attentive listener with a strong faith and a prayer closet who encourages Elizabeth, step by step, to cast out the power of Satan and invite God to become a power in her marriage.
This initial premise is a good one but, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Because Elizabeth wants to be a good, respectful, submissive Christian wife, she holds back from talking to her husband about the state of their marriage. She is encouraged by Miss Clara to pray it up, telling Satan to “Go back to hell where you belong, and leave my family alone!” That kind of prayer has power, and God will be in control.
Can prayer make a difference? Definitely. But I was disappointed that Ted (who really isn’t that great of a husband at the beginning of the movie) seems to change as a direct result of divine intervention. It is Elizabeth who does all of the praying and who is the most open to doing whatever it takes to make their marriage and family work. And it is God, working behind the scenes, who opens doors, creates new opportunities, and saves their marriage. But faith is not that simple. Jesus was always clear about the need for us to be personally involved in the business of transformation: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.”(Luke 6:37-38) This is not just God’s work to do, but God at work in us.
The good news is that War Room is entertaining and positive in its message. The Kendrick brothers have gathered a talented and appealing cast and the cinematography is accomplished. Humor is used effectively to keep things from getting too heavy handed (including a running gag about smelly feet). At two hours, the movie is about 30 minutes too long, but the Steven Curtis Chapman song during the closing credits is catchy, and Beth Moore even shows up in a small role. Many Christians will enjoy this movie and, far be it from me to keep you from going to see War Room. Even a film critic has to learn how to pick his battles.
Three halos: An entertaining (if somewhat simplistic) faith-based film about the power of intercessory prayer.
One pitchfork: Mild temptation, scenes of marital tension.
The movie The War Room is not just entertainment, but more importantly is changing lives. This is happening in persons I know and around the country. It is worthy of being seen!
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
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