Hi and welcome back! We have a treat for you: Lisu has graciously written up part 2 of their review of the 2006 movie Facing the Giants! Things get gnarly in the second half. Today, Lord Snow Presides over Christian movies that accidentally function as anti-witnesses for the religion!
Strap in! Lisu, take it away!
Welcome To The Pre-Show, Round 2.
And we’re back for Round 2! In the red corner, we have Facing the Giants, a movie so bad that I can’t even bring myself to be sarcastic about it any longer! Weighing in at one hour and fifty-one minutes, this film is so unrealistic and offensive that it’ll leave you screaming at your screen!
In the blue corner, we have lisu, your guest correspondent! Weighing in at 5 foot cough and ahem pounds, they’re back for the rematch against what’s left of this absolutely dreadful piece of Jesus porn!
Llllllllet’s get rrrrrrready to rrrrrrumble!
The Bingo Box.
For those of you who weren’t playing along during the first installment, the bingo box currently looks like this:
What are the odds we fill the whole thing in by the end of this film?
In Which Atheist Strawman Is Built.
When we left off last time, the Three Musketeers (that is, our hero and his assistant coaches) were going all-in on Jesus. However, we quickly learn that not everyone on the team is quite so eager to board the fast train to Fundagelical.
Remember Atheist Strawman, from part 1? Well, he’s twiddling his thumbs in the bleachers after the rest of the team has already left. Our hero offers him a ride, but Executive Dad is coming to pick him up. At least, he’d better be.
Order in the house, y’all! Our hero has SOMETHING TO SAY! He thinks Atheist Strawman owes his dad more respect. Atheist Strawman points out, correctly, that our hero doesn’t know Executive Dad like he does. Our hero doesn’t care. Atheist Strawman needs to respect Executive Dad because it’s the RIGHT THING TO DO!
Executive Dad is part of the group of fathers that have been trying to roll our hero, and Atheist Strawman takes the opportunity to rub that fact in. Our hero thinks Atheist Strawman is deflecting, and tells him all about what Scripture says.
Atheist Strawman tells our hero that his dad just bosses him around, and doesn’t try to understand him. Considering what we’ve seen of their relationship, and the way that Executive Dad behaves, I absolutely believe this. Every time we’ve seen Executive Dad, he’s looked like he wants to be anywhere but his current location.
But that’s not what this is really all about, at least not according to our hero. Atheist Strawman can’t judge Executive Dad by his actions while judging himself by his intentions. He’s got to take responsibility for himself, and submit to his father’s authority. Then he’ll be honouring God. (Bingo.)
Atheist Strawman thinks it’s nice that religion works for our hero, but he’s not really interested in it. He’s only at a Christian school in the first place because he got kicked out of the local school district.
A Real Zinger. (Only If You Don’t Know A Single Atheist.)
Our hero decides to set Atheist Strawman straight about how much he TOTALLY NEEDS to have a relationship with Jesus. “You’ll have to make the decision for yourself. You may not want to accept it, because it’ll change your life. You’ll never be the same.” ZING! (Also, double bingo AGAIN. That one completes two lines. Drink four times.)
“I do hope one day, you’ll realise how much he loves you.” The Mad Blood God Of The Desert loves us? That’s news to me.
Our hero informs Atheist Strawman that they’ll see each other tomorrow, and stalks off. We watch Atheist Strawman stare into the camera. His eyes follow our her as he leaves. Then, his eyes drop. I’m sure he’s meant to be contemplating what our hero just said, but I read this as frustration that another Christian is stomping all over his boundaries.
Atheist Strawman has inadvertently hit the nail on the head in this scene. The Captain has already written about how much the phrase “it works for you” bewilders Christians. Our hero’s response speaks to a darker atheist strawman; namely, the one in Alex Kendrick’s head. He thinks atheists are shallow. He has PROOF YES PROOF that Christianity doesn’t just “work for him.” (Proof which manifests itself in terrible movies, if the last hour is anything to go by.) In his head, Christianity is objectively true, and it works for everyone.
The problem with this is that our hero’s thought-stopper is incredibly unlikely to change anybody’s mind. In the fantasy world of this film, atheists are the kind of kids that get themselves thrown out of school, fail classes, and generally do whatever they want to do. In the real world, atheism in Christian families is hard-won. An atheist child has to weigh the risk of their lack of belief being public against the reward of living as their authentic self. If Atheist Strawman was a real kid, he’d probably be biding his time until he could get the hell out of there.
Atheist Strawman’s name, incidentally, is Matt Prater. There is a real Matt Prater who kicks in the NFL. In fact, he holds the record for the longest field goal in the league. He entered the NFL at around the time Facing the Giants was being filmed. His religious affiliation is not public. I wonder whether the choice of name was a coincidence, and how the real Prater feels about it?
The Case of the Dead Rodent.
It seems that we’ve located the source of the horrible smell. There was a mouse quietly decaying in one of the heating vents.
Trophy Wife screams, and runs out of the room. She clearly doesn’t want to touch our little furry friend with a ten-foot pole. Our hero puts on his Manly Man pants, and orders her to give him the bag so that he can remove the unwanted intruder. Trophy Wife is flapping her arms around like a chicken. She’s really upset that there’s a dead mouse in her house, and terrified of it touching her. Our hero assures her that isn’t going to happen. He’s going to take care of this like a Manly Man, y’all!
Trophy Wife wants to make sure that the mouse is still dead. Our hero yanks it out of the vent, protesting that it’s probably been dead for weeks. Trophy Wife demands that he get it out of the house, then punctuates her point by repeating “Out” a few more times.
This is where it gets weird. Our hero calls Trophy Wife over, and orders her to look at the mouse. She refuses and shrinks away. Our hero thinks the mouse is just like a big hamster. As he describes the mouse in the most benign of terms, she slowly creeps closer. When he’s satisfied that she’s close enough, he points out the mouse’s bare teeth, then growls in her face.
Trophy Wife absolutely freaks out. She leaps away and shrieks again, hands flying everywhere. Our hero thinks this is hilarious, until the towels come flying at him from inside the kitchen.
Are we in high school now? (I suppose we are, but that’s not really the point.) Jump-scaring people isn’t humorous unless you have a callous, juvenile sense of humour. I’m sure that people within the Fundagelical bubble would probably find this funny, but I really don’t. Our hero cares more about his joke than Trophy Wife’s sense of feelings. It says a lot about how Fundagelical men think of their wives, doesn’t it?
Token Black Coach uses MAGICAL THINKING!
Soccer Player muffs a field goal in practice. He apologises, but Token Black Coach isn’t having any of it.
See, Soccer Player doesn’t have confidence in himself. He thinks he’s going to miss his kicks, so he’s not trying as hard as possible to make them. The logical way to deal with Soccer Player’s kicking woes would be to bring in a specialist kicking coach, or at least work with the kid on his technique. Is that what’s going to happen here? Hell no! The coaches’ response to everything is to Jesus harder! We’re going to use Scripture to teach Soccer Player how to make his field goals! (Bingo for biblical thinking.)
Token Black Coach quotes Matthew 7:13-14: “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction.” Apparently, that’s wide left and wide right. Our hero stares at Token Black Coach as he equates the “narrow way” to kicking the ball between the posts.
Token Black Coach is really getting into this explanation. He waves Soccer Player that his momma can kick the ball wide left and wide right, but that’s not what’s going to get the kid home. He punctuates his explanation with progressively wilder hand gestures, culminating in a demonstration of a kick that looks like a dying duck. The African-American accent that has been hitherto blunted begins to show through.
Professional Ditherer interjects periodically with “Come on!”s and “Oh my word!”s, which really adds to the farcical nature of the whole production. Our hero, who has one of those silly grins bolted to his face, thinks there’s a lot of truth to what Token Black Coach is saying. On Token Black Coach’s instruction, Soccer Player sends the ball through “those pearly gates.”
Hold on a minute. Token Black Coach has just spent two minutes quoting Scripture at Soccer Player. He hasn’t offered any advice on how Soccer Player can improve his kicking fundamentals, not even so much as an “orient your foot correctly and approach the ball from an angle.” And yet somehow, magically, this explanation causes Soccer Player to start making field goals. (That has to be a bingo for magical thinking. Let’s drink.)
Now, About That Revival…
Our hero looks up from his work to discover that a teacher has popped his head around the door. According to our guest, something SUPER IMPORTANT Y’ALL is happening, and our coach needs to drop everything to go and see it.
The two men make their way out to the football field, where our hero learns that after a Bible class, Atheist Strawman accepted Christ as his Lord and asked for forgiveness for his sins. (Bingo, and drink twice for the completed line.) This set off a chain reaction, leading to the whole class breaking into groups for some full-strength Jesusing. (Bingo for fellowship; remember, kids, you can’t really be friends with anyone who isn’t a TRUE CHRISTIAN™! That’s another line complete, so drink twice.) This has been going on for three hours.
We get to see the Bible teacher, holding the book in his hand, preaching to bunches of teenage kids. Most of them look dejected in that way that only broken Christians ever manage to look. Three girls are crying together in the bleachers; the teacher who dragged our hero out goes over to comfort them. Our hero stares at the football field, taking it all in. This whole scene is interspersed with clips of Creepy Mr. Bridges, who is ‘laying hands’ on a row of lockers while mumbling prayers to himself. (I still have no idea why a guy with no apparent connection to the school is given free rein of the place. This is not in any way normal.)
Hold on a minute. Does this school have three-hour Bible classes, or have these kids skipped the rest of their classes for Jesus? I know that Fundagelicals care more about God than they do about education, but this is a bit much for a school that surely has to get accreditation from somewhere.
Also, the way that these kids look is just heartbreaking. They look depressed. Half of them are in tears. I can’t believe that this joke of a movie is portraying this as a good thing. Where Kendrick sees sinners giving themselves up to God, I see a bunch of kids who are terrified of going to Hell, and are behaving accordingly.
Given a choice between “something that would actually happen” and “mass delusion perpetrated by a student who feels he has no other choice,” I’ll take the latter. The only way that this scene is realistic is if Atheist Strawman is pretending to be Christian to make life bearable until he has the ability to disappear. I don’t know whether the silly grin that’s fixed on his face for the rest of the movie makes this more or less likely. You decide.
We’re Off To See Executive Dad.
Atheist Strawman approaches our hero, and is rewarded with a hug and an “I’m proud of you.” He feels the need to pay Executive Dad a visit right this very moment. Our hero, being the hero, offers to give him a ride.
I have to pause here to ask myself for the millionth time whether this is normal in America. Physical contact between teachers and students was proscribed when I was at the equivalent of high school. Considering how woefully that proscription failed at protecting students from abuse at the hands of teachers, I think I’m quite justified in calling this yet another creepy undertone.
Executive Dad is busy poring over plans for a new development, and he isn’t too pleased when his secretary tells him that he has a visitor. He complains that he’s in a meeting. When he finds out that the visitor is his son, though, he tells her to send him in. The guy he’s meeting with offers to step out, but he says it’s alright.
Atheist Strawman arrives on the scene to deliver the Great Apology. He lets Executive Dad know that he got right with God, and that he now TOTALLY RESPECTS Executive Dad’s authority. From now on, whatever Executive Dad says goes. As he heads out, Executive Dad’s colleague offers to continue the meeting tomorrow instead. Executive Dad apologises, but his thoughts seem to be drifting. He looks out the window, and sees Atheist Strawman getting in our hero’s car. His colleague announces that he’d give his right arm to hear his son say that to him.
I can’t even. Atheist Strawman’s transgressions seem like typical teenage stuff; I have yet to meet a teenager that doesn’t talk back to their parents. What’s more, no teenager I know would willingly perform such a complete about-face for no reason whatsoever. If there’s something else going on behind the scenes to make him do this, we sure haven’t seen any evidence of it. Did anyone outside Kendrick’s bubble read the script for this pile of radioactive waste before it was filmed?
It’s Match Day Again. Praise the Lord!
No gratuitous cheerleader shots this time. Instead, we’re taken inside the team’s locker room. Our hero is JUST SO IMPRESSED with the team’s enthusiastic entry into the Jesus club. He thinks it’s a completely new team in front of him. He wants them to stay humble but confident, and bring their experiences this week onto the field.
At our hero’s urging, Reluctant Leader leads the team in prayer. He’s JUST SO GRATEFUL that the team has the chance to play football, y’all! And no matter whether the team wins or loses, they’re going to praise the Mad Blood God. (Bingo.) He offers all their honour and glory to God, asks for the team to stay safe, then solicits (and gets) an amen from his teammates. Our hero encourages the team to play hard and have fun. That’s the first reasonable thing I’ve heard in this scene!
Of course, the team plays competently for the first time, and they win. At the end of the game, we see someone pin a snippet from the newspaper to a pin board. There’s already a cutting on the board, celebrating the revival at the school and how it’s all thanks to our hero and his football team. The board, and the hand, belong to Creepy Mr. Bridges. This will be relevant later.
It’s not just the team’s playing skills that have improved. Reluctant Leader and the kids who messed with the teacher’s desk have gone from failing all their classes to straight-A students. In fact, Reluctant Leader is now acing all his tests, to the point of getting everything right. I don’t think I had a single test in high school that it was actually possible to get 100% on, but I’ll suspend disbelief on that for the minute.
I’ll suspend disbelief on the fact that these are high school kids learning how to calculate mean averages using fractions, too, because my source wasn’t at all surprised by that. I could average from memory at the age of eight. I’m not at all convinced that this Shiloh Christian Academy is preparing its students for university, or even working life. Then again, Georgia’s public schools are allegedly just as bad, so I suppose this is the standard over there. Remind me not to go to Georgia. Ever.
I can’t, however, suspend my disbelief of Jesus not only fixing Soccer Player’s kicking, but also sending failing students to the top of their classes. Was this school really giving scholarships to football players despite the fact that they couldn’t pass? If that is the case (here my source interjected with “Of course it is” and a sigh), then this school has far, far bigger problems than not Jesusing hard enough.
The Stone Wall.
The team’s not just getting their kicking advice from Scripture. They’re apparently coaching their entire defense with only a Bible. Our hero encourages his defense to emulate Nehemiah’s Stone Wall. (A wall of protection! Bingo.) As long as each player does their own job, then nothing will get by the team.
I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works. Even man-to-man defenses require the players to work together to pick up blown assignments. Zone defense requires coordination and communication across the entire team. Do these coaches actually know anything about football?
In yet another example of magical thinking (and no, I’m not drinking again for that one), this “Stone Wall” idea works brilliantly. The footage of the next game is all stops, stuffs, and sacks by Shiloh. Our hero is standing on the sidelines the entire time, grinning to himself. And thus, Creepy Mr. Bridges has another glowing article to pin up on his board.
The players are going at it hard in practice, too. Token Black Coach runs the players through offensive drills, while Professional Ditherer gees up Reluctant Leader on the tacking machine. Our hero throws the ball to someone off-screen just as Professional Ditherer runs over and tackles Token Black Coach to the ground. Token Black Coach chases Professional Ditherer along the sideline. Our hero notices something, but looks for them on the wrong side of the field at first. When he finally sees them, he shakes his head and smiles, as if to say ‘boys will be boys’.
Executive Dad even showed up to watch Atheist Strawman practice. Nice, right? Less nice when you realise that he’s only here now that Atheist Strawman is on the Jesus train. “I’ll only take interest in you if you dedicate yourself to my religion” is not a message I would ever want to send to a child.
Humans Provide, God Gets The Credit.
Soccer Player is about to take a kick. Wheelchair Dad calls out to him from the sidelines, and holds up his arms. Soccer Player makes the kick, and throws his fists in the air. The team celebrates. They’re now 3 and 3 for the season.
There’s an enormous red pickup truck sitting right in front of the door, but our hero doesn’t give it a second glance. He wonders whether the football players were messing with his car. Token Black Coach is of the opinion that you couldn’t pay someone to steal it, but he’s distracted by a note wedged into the door of the pickup.
He informs our hero that the note is addressed to him, and our hero asks what it says. It begins with praise for his impact on the school, and an offer to meet a need in his life in return for the need he’s met in theirs. The title for this new truck is in his name. It’s just a little thank-you from our anonymous author. So yeah. Someone just gave our hero a brand new pickup.
The camera pans to Atheist Strawman and Executive Dad, sitting in a fairly similar pickup to the one our hero now owns. Surprise! Token Black Coach keeps telling our hero that someone gave him a new truck, as if he didn’t already know that from the note. As the assistant coach, he thinks he should at least get a moped out of this. I’m beginning to think that he’s here entirely for comic relief, as if we needed another reason to dislike this film.
Our hero is overcome with emotion that the Lord gave him a new truck. As usual, God gets the credit for humans’ actions. He drives away, and Token Black Coach celebrates being able to throw out the jump leads. “Not a word to anyone,” Executive Dad cautions. Atheist Strawman replies “Yes, sir.” Remember what I said about that ridiculous grin? It looks seriously unnatural. Also, you drive the exact same truck, Executive Dad. You think nobody’s going to notice?
I wonder who’s going to pay the gift tax? Or is our hero going to follow the time-honoured tradition of
charlatans evangelists everywhere, and declare himself tax-exempt?
It’s All Looking Up For Our Hero.
Another win. Five in a row. Six in a row, and into the playoffs. The news articles going onto the pinboard all have gratuitous mentions of how the team are JUST SO INSPIRED, and are reaping the fruits of their devotion to God. Nice. Also, bingo. Drink twice for the completed line.
According to Wikipedia, the director of photography was part of an NFL Films before working on this movie. The football scenes were filmed using real high school footballers. The director of photography did a good job; the football scenes might be the best thing about this film. Not that that’s hard, but at least this film has one redeeming quality.
All of a sudden, we’re in a florist. One of the employees smiles at our hero. He puts his finger to his lips just as Trophy Wife comes into the frame. She gives him a sappy grin, and asks how she can help him.
Our hero, of course, is here to buy a nice bouquet of flowers for his wife. He’s already got the card, and he’s going to give them to her at her favourite restaurant. He wants a nice large bouquet, and money’s no object. Trophy Wife raises an eyebrow. Our hero conspiratorially whispers that he just got a $6,000 raise.
Of course this is cause for celebration. But why at Trophy Wife’s workplace? Hell, why not conspire with her boss to buy the flowers without her knowing? Our hero doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to do things by half-measures, and yet that’s exactly what he’s doing here. This whole scene feels totally wrong.
Are You Sitting Down?
The announcers from the beginning of the film are back! The Shiloh team hasn’t made the playoffs for over a decade, and now they’re up against a team that hasn’t lost all season.
In the huddle, our hero encourages the team to stay sharp and focused, play hard, and honour God. This time, however, it doesn’t go quite to plan. The opponents are making it through the stone wall defense, and the offense can’t score. Our hero’s team loses the game, and the players vent their frustrations in the locker room.
Our hero gathers everyone together for a little chat. In his view, God has still been very good to them this year. The team decides that if they praise God when they win, they also have to praise God when they lose. They take a knee, and pray. And that’s it. The team’s season is over. (For now.)
Our hero really wishes the team could’ve won at least one game in the playoffs; they worked too hard to lose. For once, we’re not attributing everyone’s hard work to God! Also, sometimes it doesn’t matter how much hard work you put in, things still don’t work out the way you want. Real life isn’t fair. However, as we’re about to find out, this movie does not in any way resemble real life.
The assistants are cleaning up the team’s equipment when our hero walks in. Someone called Stan Schultz has been looking for him. Professional Ditherer misidentifies Stan Schultz as a cartoonist called Charles Schultz. The charade continues. Charles Schultz is conflated with Charles Lindbergh, who’s conflated with the Hindenburg airship. The Hindenburg is then conflated with Gatlinburg in Tennessee, which is conflated with some country music group that I assume has a name somewhat similar to the Gatlinburg Brothers. (Does anyone know which group this references?) The assistants are laughing to themselves. You know what? I actually think both of them are meant to be comic relief characters by this point.
Stan Schultz apparently got our hero on the phone, and he’s clearly got some surprising news, because he wants to know whether our hero is sitting down. Next thing we know, our hero’s striding onto the field. He declares that he serves a big God, who brings his servants honour and glory. It transpires that the team’s first-round opponents played two ineligible players, and have been disqualified. Just like that, our hero and his team are off to the next round of the playoffs.
A Man’s Idea Of Morning Sickness.
Tha announcers are back again! This time, our hero is up against the team that his star running back transferred to at the beginning of the season.
The quarterback throws a bomb downfield to a receiver, then Soccer Player makes the field goal. We don’t actually see the rest of the game (shame, because facing a player who transferred from your team at the beginning of the season would’ve been a great story arc), but predictably enough, our hero’s team wins it. They’re moving on to the next round of the playoffs.
Back at the florist, Trophy Wife’s boss is concerned. Trophy Wife woke up every morning this week feeling nauseous, but it keeps passing before the middle of the day. Her boss wants her to go to the doctor. Trophy Wife feels silly about it, since she’s already been three times this year. The boss offers the use of her car.
I’ve experienced morning sickness, but it was much worse in the afternoons and evenings. Every day, I woke up feeling slightly nauseous. I was usually able to hold down breakfast, but I ended up depositing lunch and dinner in a bucket. Not only did Kendrick fail to show this script to anyone outside his bubble before he filmed it, I’m not convinced he showed it to anyone who’s been pregnant either.
The State Championship Awaits.
Creepy Mr. Bridges is listening to the radio while praying. It seems like Token Black Coach’s trick playbook has finally come out, because they fake the handoff to the running back before throwing a pass to win the game. Continuing this improbable run of events, they’re now into the championship game. Therefore, Creepy Mr. Bridges has another article to pin to that board. What on earth is this guy’s deal anyway? Are we sure he doesn’t have some ulterior motive for all of this?
The news runs a segment about the championship game, emphasising the point that the Giants have three times as many players as Shiloh. Meanwhile, the happy couple are eating breakfast together. Our hero is eating apple slices off a knife while Trophy Wife sips her tea.
Our hero didn’t get any sleep. Predictably, he’s nervous. He’s not sure whether the team are going to get crushed, or whether “God is going to do something awesome.” Trophy Wife observes that his fear is about to collide with his faith. Spoiler: in the real world, faith usually loses.
Our hero resolves to head out early. Trophy Wife doesn’t want him to wait for her. She’ll just meet him at the game.
The reason for that is that she’s off to see her specialist, which she apparently hasn’t told him about. She’s sitting in the waiting room, gazing longingly at a couple of kids who are playing with their parents on the floor. I kind of wish she’d snatch one of the kids; it would make this film far more interesting.The receptionist notices that she’s back again. The doctor (who, oddly enough, is a woman. I’m quite surprised that she’s allowed to have a professional role, but I won’t knock it) really hopes she’s finally pregnant. It seems that everyone at the doctor’s office is sending her baby vibes. Creepy.
Wheelchair Dad locates Soccer Player’s cleats for him, and they sit down for a heart-to-heart. Soccer Player doesn’t think he’s going to play, but he’s still nervous. Wheelchair Dad is proud of him, regardless of whether he plays. He’ll be right there on the sidelines, praying for his son. Bingo, and drink a second time for the completed line.
In my opinion, Wheelchair Dad is the best character in this movie. He’s the only one in the entire film that feels even remotely realistic. It actually feels like the religious references were added to his character’s script after the fact. They just don’t fit. I think I’ve been mentally excising a lot of them as totally unrealistic, which might be why Wheelchair Dad seems vaguely likeable to me.
She’s Not Pregnant. No, Wait!
Trophy Wife’s results are back. She’s not pregnant. The doctor and receptionist both seem genuinely sad. I thought medical professionals weren’t supposed to get that emotionally invested in their patients?
The doctor delivers the news. Trophy Wife is visibly distressed by it. She buries her head in her hands, and cries. As she prepares to drive out of the parking lot, she declares to the sky that she will still love God if our heroes never have children.
But wait! The receptionist stares at a pair of clipboards, bewildered. She has an animated, but muted, discussion with the doctor, who snatches the clipboard out of her hands. Trophy Wife is just pulling out of the parking lot when the doctor slaps the driver-side window of the car.
Trophy Wife doesn’t believe it. The doctor shows her the results, and she gasps. The two of them smush each other in a hug, then Trophy Wife starts prancing around as though she’s skipping rope. Then she hugs the doctor again. We haven’t heard any of what they said to each other, but the implication is clear. Trophy Wife is, indeed, pregnant.
In the meantime, our hero strides out onto the empty field where the state championship game will be played. Once again, he looks up to the sky. Whatever happens, he’s going to give God the glory.
Gratuitous Appearance of Mark Richt.
Look who’s come to visit! No, it’s not God. It’s Mark Richt. For those of you who don’t follow college football, Mark Richt is the former head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs and the Miami Hurricanes. Apparently, any time one of his former players makes a state championship, he stops by. Considering that the news articles on Creepy Mr. Bridges’ pinboard are dated to 2003, and our hero has been coaching at Shiloh for six years, he must’ve played at Florida State when Richt was OC there. I think Kendrick was actually going for the implication that our hero played for Richt at Georgia, but the dates don’t add up.
Richt is SO VERY IMPRESSED with our hero’s football program. He praises the development of the team, and tells our hero that he’s won the big one. Our hero hasn’t won the state championship yet, but Richt wasn’t talking about the championship. He was referring to our hero’s sudden transformation into a Man of God. (Bingo. Two completed lines, so drink three times.)
Win or lose the game, our hero and his team are champions in Richt’s eyes. But while they’re at it, they may as well win, amirite? Also, when they do win, they should use it as an opportunity to spread the gospel. (BINGO for the final time! I didn’t plan for the centre square to be the last one that got filled in. Since we’re completing two lines, two diagonals, and the entire board, just finish whatever you’ve been drinking and pour yourself another one.)
Our hero is worried that his players will be scared. Richt thinks that if God said “Do not fear” so many times in the Bible, he must mean it. He knows our hero is busy, so he heads out to the stands to watch the game.
My source was surprised that Richt made a cameo in this movie. Although he’s known as a devout Christian, he’s generally respectful of others’ beliefs, and is very highly regarded in the college football world. My source knows him, and describes him as a “big old sweetheart.” In their experience, he won’t discuss religion with you once he knows you’re not interested. (My source is not, and has never been, a Christian.)
We came to the conclusion that Hugh Freeze would be a more appropriate special guest. As well as being obnoxious enough for this film, he’s hypocritical enough to be a TRUE CHRISTIAN™.
The Big Game.
Our hero gathers his team for one last pre-game pep talk. He’s proud of this players, and wouldn’t trade the season for anything in the world. Their opponent today is the biggest team they’ve ever played, and they’re undefeated. At least for the moment. Our hero concedes that the odds of winning are pretty slim, but since God’s already worked MIRACLES Y’ALL, he thinks that nothing is impossible with God. No matter whether they win or lose, he’s going to give God the glory.
Just about everyone who’s not on the field is in the stands. We see Executive Dad, Mark Richt, Trophy Wife and her boss, and even the other fathers that wanted to roll our hero way back in Part 1. The cheerleaders are getting their moves on as the teams run out through the banners.
The announcers (yes, it’s the same ones again) are concerned that our hero’s team won’t be able to keep pace. Considering the Giants’ roster is three times their roster’s size, this seems like an entirely reasonable concern.
The Giants score, and Rival Coach trash-talks our hero. He’s still got that lollipop in his mouth, and it’s just as disgusting as it was the first time we saw it. The Three Musketeers take a moment to discuss strategy. Our hero knows that his players need to play faster and harder than they’re currently playing. I guess if God can do anything, he can instantly add an extra 50 pounds to some of the kids, right?
The Giants score again. Rival Coach continues to generally behave boorishly. Then, one of the defenders picks a pass and runs it into the endzone. The Three Musketeers cheer. Wheelchair Dad claps. Rival Coach starts shouting at his team. Just like that, we’re going into the second half with a 14-7 game.
The Three Musketeers decide that they’re going to have to use trick plays to break things up. Our hero gives the team a quick pep talk. Instead of trying to out-muscle the Giants, they’re going to out-smart them.
Immediately the game starts again, our hero’s team score another touchdown. Rival Coach tells his players to make them pay for it. Sure enough, on the very next play, Pretty Good Kicker gets his collarbone broken on a late tackle.
The Giants score, and miss a two-point conversion. It’s 20-14. Rival Coach is incredibly upset that our hero got his team onto the scoreboard at all. According to him, Shiloh’s team are just like little dogs yapping at their feet.
In contrast, our hero talks positive. Hey, who knew that treating your players well might get them to play harder? What a novel concept, amirite?
The Giants miss a field goal. Reluctant Leader is exhausted, and wants a break. Our hero tells him he needs just a little more. Soccer Player makes a field goal, and it’s 23-21. It’s all going to come down to a defensive stop on the goal line.
Our hero demands four more downs from Reluctant Leader, and he agrees. Rival Coach is furious; our hero remains composed. The Shiloh team make the stop. Once. Twice. Three times. Reluctant Leader steps up, and encourages the team to make the stop. They don’t have to, because the Giants’ quarterback fumbles. They make the return. Now it’s all down to Soccer Player, who has to make a 51-yard field goal.
Out on the field, he falters. He doesn’t think he can do it. Our hero is out of timeouts, and preparing for rain. He begs Rival Coach to take a timeout. Nobody on the Giants’ bench thinks the kid can make it, but Rival Coach decides to ice him anyway.
This is exactly what our hero wanted. He thinks God can help Soccer Player make the kick. Soccer Player agrees to give it his best, and leave the rest up to God.
Wheelchair Dad hauls himself out of the wheelchair. An official approaches him, and he declares that he’s standing for his son. Soccer Player asks God to help him make the kick. He pauses, and then he drills it straight through the uprights.
The crowd goes crazy. The team leaps into a scrum. Our hero tackles one of the players to the ground. Rival Coach stares into the distance. Wheelchair Dad grins. Mark Richt points to the scoreboard in disbelief. It’s over.
Regrowing Missing Limbs, Coach.
Our hero has SOMETHING TO SAY again! He goes around every player on the team, and asks them what’s impossible with God. Soccer Player, Reluctant Leader, the receivers, the rest of the players.Every single one of them responds with the same phrase. “Nothing, Coach.”
Trophy Wife sneaks into the door of the locker room just as our hero starts his motivational speech. God can do whatever he wants to do, and he chooses to work in their lives because he’s JUST SO GOOD. Our hero wants today to be a milestone in his players’ lives. He encourages the whole team to kneel down and pray.
If I was a student in that locker room, I’d reply, “Regrowing missing limbs, Coach. That’s impossible, even with God.” Soccer Player won that game, not God. Soccer Player won them that game because he believed in himself, and God shouldn’t be able to take that away from anyone.
Before this film ends, we get one more demonstration of what’s possible with God in Kendrick’s fantasy world. Our heroes are in their living room, and our hero is gushing to Trophy Wife about everything that God’s given them. It’s been one of the best days of his life.
But wait! It’s not over yet. Trophy Wife wants to tell our hero that he’s made the team. Our hero is confused. What team has he made? The Daddy Team, of course! Trophy Wife throws the question back onto our hero, and he gives the predictable answer. Nothing is impossible with God. He’s so overwhelmed.
Our hero goes out to the forest, where he sinks down to his knees and raises his arms in the air. It’s over. It’s all over.
Two years later, our hero plays toy football with Tiny Hero in the living room. Trophy Wife observes the scene from the doorway, and smiles. She’s pregnant again, and caressing that bump like a natural. The camera zooms in on a plaque on the wall, which reads With God, all things are possible.
Then, we cut to the credits.
At the end of part 1, several of you raised criticisms of the film’s infertility plot. I think the infertility plot is deeply damaging, and it’s not the only thing about this film that is. Alex Kendrick and his ilk don’t seem to turn nearly as much attention to the question of what happens when Jesusing harder doesn’t magically solve everything.
Now, I suspect that’s because True Christians™ think that if Jesus doesn’t solve all your problems, you’re not Jesusing hard enough. But we don’t live in their world, we live in the real world. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. There are times where it all goes wrong. Sometimes, really horrible things happen to good people. If you accept that God is omnipresent, you have to accept that God has some reason for permitting that level of cruelty.
A film that Jesus-washes everything has the potential to cause a lot of harm to struggling people. If they believe that God won’t help them, it’s just going to send them into a deeper spiral of despair. Nobody deserves the feelings of inadequacy that arise when you’re taught that God controls everything, and we’re all just powerless little ants.
I’d like to take the time to reassure anyone that feels this way after watching this film that you are worth something. You have value beyond whatever value religion assigns to you. People like Alex Kendrick play on your fears and insecurities to try to draw you into worshipping their particular flavour of deity, but it’s okay to ask for help from real people instead of giving everything up to God. If you’re starting your journey, then the commentariat here will make you more than welcome.
Well, that was somehow a lot worse than I was expecting. When I told my source that, their response was “Now you know why I got the hell out of Georgia and never went back.”
Yes. Yes, I do. Never again will I laugh when my partner teases you about growing up in Georgia. I have seen the light. No, not that light!
Do you hear me, God? You keep your enormous nose out of this! We worship Cthulhu in this house, not you! The Old Gods will be quite happy to send a piddling little deity like you insane…
The Final Bingo Box.
Yes, I was genuinely that drunk at the end of the film. Those of you that bet that we would fill in the whole bingo box were correct.
Thank you for joining me on this rollercoaster ride! Maybe when I’ve finished sleeping the alcohol off, I’ll dive back into the world of terrible Christian sportsball movies again. For now, I’m off to erase the memories of this stunningly awful film with some hockey. I wonder why Kendrick didn’t decide to make a Jesus porn film set around a hockey team instead? There could be some good conversion storylines with all those darned godless foreigners…
Cas here: WOW! That was next-level horrific. Lisu, we press F for sympathy you and in thanks for your enduring this turkey for us. Thank you for doing this. Today, Lord Snow Presides over horrible Christian movies that reveal way too much about how terrible that whole religion truly is.
NEXT UP: Join us next time for an adventure into why Christian leaders despise true love, a lesson courtesy of Gary Smalley. See you tomorrow!
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Lord Snow Presides is our off-topic weekly chat series. I’ve started us off on a topic, but feel free to chime in with anything on your mind. Pet pictures especially welcome! The series was named for Lord Snow, my recently departed white cat. He knew a lot more than he ever let on.