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‘Overcomer’: live-action drama, humor & inspiration

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — It’s good to know that although we have to be wise in our film choices, there are some quality live-action theatrical releases suitable for Christian parents and their kids.

One such film is “Overcomer,” the newest venture from Christian writers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, founders of Sherwood Pictures.

Overcomer is a family-friendly motion picture from the Kendrick brothers akin to their 2006 release, “Facing the Giants.”

Opening nationwide on Friday, Aug. 23, Overcomer focuses on high school basketball coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) whose dreams of a state championship are dashed when the town’s largest manufacturing plant closes and several of his team’s families move away.

Coach Harrison begins to question his worth until he gets to know an aspiring cross-country athlete (Aryn Wright-Thompson). Both are fish out of water but find themselves coming to terms with life’s journey as Harrison coaches the young runner to success on and off the track.

As with many of the Kendricks’ other films, Overcomer effortlessly blends drama and humor with spiritual insights. Heartfelt and believable, it offers hope that God does care for individuals and that He intervenes and blesses those with contrite hearts.

Overcomer wonderfully entertains and inspires. It is rated PG for thematic elements, but I caught nothing objectionable.

Here’s a recap of the Kendricks’ other films to date:

“Courageous” (2011)

Four police officers struggle with their faith and their roles as husbands and fathers after experiencing a life-changing tragedy.

Two things impressed me about Courageous. First, with each production the Kendricks’ skill as filmmakers has grown. Second, there’s always a sincerity of spirit that rings true in their offerings. While this is their ministry, they also embrace the No. 1 rule of moviemaking: When constructing a cinematic parable — story must come first. Then character. Then the message.

“Fireproof” (2008)

A fireman (Kirk Cameron) and his wife (Erin Bethea) are on the brink of divorce. Mainly out of respect for his father, the wayward husband consents to taking a 40-day experiment called “The Love Dare” before the final separation papers are signed.

Yes, Fireproof has an agenda. It clearly states that you need Christ on the throne of your life and at the center of your marriage. But here’s what sets it apart from the plethora of well-intentioned spiritually-themed movies dedicated to the proposition that the message must come first. The brothers Kindrick never overwhelm the entertainment value with a sermon. They keep in mind that they are making a movie and must adhere to the laws of filmmaking. If you want to get a message across, make sure the audience is engrossed in the story and likes your protagonists. Alex and Stephen Kendrick are quite good at accomplishing this feat.

“Facing the Giants” (2006)

Fueled by renewed faith, a football coach gives his losing team a different game plan, daring them to believe in the impossible on and off the field.

I remember feeling the Holy Spirit’s presence when I first viewed this picture. It was as if He was showering spiritual knowledge and blessing upon the project, and upon this viewer. The film took on a sincere life, one that seemed to comfort while extolling biblical principles. This was something special that I seldom see in theatrical releases. And I mean very seldom.

“Flywheel” (2003)

Alex Kendrick gives a nice performance as a used car salesman coming to terms with his own dishonesty. It’s a heartfelt and believable production, with touching lessons demonstrating God’s care for individuals and His desire to intervene and bless contrite hearts.

Though I’m honest and conscientious in my profession, viewing Flywheel just made me want to strive harder to turn my work and worries over to our heavenly Father. The film points out that good deeds, while not always seen by man, are always seen by the One who counts. I was entertained and blessed by this production and will be viewing it again in order to remind myself that when we live on God’s terms, not our own, we are then truly successful.

“War Room” (2015)

Elizabeth and Tony are a young couple who seemingly have it all. But in reality, their marriage is falling apart. It’s as if their relationship is built on a foundation of sand. Enter Miss Clara, an older, wiser woman, who passes on life lessons to Elizabeth that, if taken seriously, not only can save her marriage, but give it a new dimension.

Though my least favorite of their productions because the storyline is on the thin side, War Room nevertheless has a relatable message: Sooner or later all marriages will suffer attack.

Looking over Stephen and Alex’s body of work, we can come to the conclusion that while their movies may lack some of Hollywood’s glitz, their intent is sincere, and more often than not, their work is a successful blend of mission field conversion and involving entertainment.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright