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AT THE MOVIES: Impactful ‘Good Lie’

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — Among the intriguing, frustrating and even spiritually rewarding moments I’ve experienced at movie screenings, most touching was a viewing of “The Good Lie.”

The film, rated PG-13 and opening Friday, Oct. 3, concerns a family’s survival of Sudan’s civil war and adjustment to a new life as refugees in America. During opening scenes, terrorists attacked a village in the Sudan.

At the sight of innocent children hunted and gunned down, a man sitting next to me suddenly began to sob. This very tall, fit, young black man was quickly reduced in size, completely shattered by the depiction on the screen. For him, it was not an Indiana Jones action moment, but a scene from reality.

Both I and the man on the other side of the sobbing moviegoer tried to comfort him by placing our hands on his shoulder. After he regained his composure and watched the remainder of the movie, I learned he had survived such an attack that had killed others he knew.

It’s easy to become jaded by the adventure blockbusters that bombard our Cineplexes. Horrors and injustices taking place in our world too often serve as fodder for moviemakers who know something about placing thrills and chills on celluloid, but fail to relate the evil of man’s inhumanity to man. We sit there eating our popcorn, showing about as much concern at the death toll as we would for victimized video game pixels. We are desensitized.

The film’s opening sequence effectively makes us aware of the horrors our fellow men suffer in other parts of the world. Today is bleak, as there are several “Hitlers” in power around the globe, each determined to exterminate other religions, races or nations. The film’s opening also reminds us that we’re not on this planet just to attend T-ball games and save for retirement’s cottage by the sea. This is our time to develop our spiritual walk with Christ, trust and draw closer to our Creator, and generate a caring nature for others.

An inspiring aspect of The Good Lie is its spotlighting of Christian organizations aiding the Sudanese victims. On screen, much of the Christian involvement is played down, as if the producers are wary of featuring Christians in too positive a light.

It saddened me that one religious organization worker, played by Sarah Baker, was portrayed as a kind of dopey, or dopier, version of Melissa McCarthy’s character in “Bridesmaids.” When offered tequila, Baker says “Praise Jesus,” and proceeds to get drunk. It’s the hard-bitten non-religious woman, played by Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, who is portrayed as saving the day.

Though The Good Lie, with its title taken from a Huckleberry Finn reference, has some unsettling, brutal moments and fails to properly credit Christians for humanitarian leadership, it is full of humor, evenly mixed with warmth and pathos.

By the end of this illuminating theatrical experience, we are also reminded of how blessed we are to be in America — even now.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright