By Michael Foust
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
I admit it. I cried during the first Kendrick Brothers movie I watched: the marriage-themed “Fireproof” (2008). I did the same during “Courageous” (2011), which spotlighted fatherhood, and “War Room” (2015), which focused on prayer.
And yes I cried again while watching a screener of their latest film, “Overcomer,” which opens in theaters Aug. 23.
Alex and Stephen Kendrick — the filmmaking duo behind these popular faith-based films — are skilled at weaving an emotion-laden story with biblical truth.
Sure they want to entertain you, but they’re more concerned with your heart. They want to convict you with the gospel. They want you to walk away from the movie with a desire to become more like Christ.
“Overcomer” (PG) follows the story of John Harrison (Alex Kendrick), a coach whose team is expected to contend for the state title. But when a local company closes — forcing families to move elsewhere looking for work — he loses his best players and his identity as a successful basketball coach. John is then forced to coach the cross-country team, which consists of one girl named Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thompson) who is searching for her identity and purpose too.
“Overcomer” also stars Priscilla Shirer (“War Room”) as the principal and Shari Rigby as John’s wife, Amy.
“Overcomer” asks the question: What do you allow to define you?
A Christian’s identity, according to the Kendricks, must not be found in work, hobbies or family but in Christ.
“Even though we call ourselves Christians we still tend to put our primary identity in our job,” Alex Kendrick said.
“If we don’t know who we are in Christ we will be devastated rather than just disappointed” when trials come, said Stephen Kendrick.
It is the Kendricks’ sixth film and their first since “War Room,” which climbed to No. 1 nationwide in its second weekend.
A No. 1 showing at the box office may be a tall task for “Overcomer” because of the competition. The R-rated “Angel Has Fallen,” which opens the same weekend as “Overcomer,” is predicted by Box Office Pro to make around $17 million its first weekend. (“War Room” was No. 1 with $9.5 million.)
But Kendrick films always seem to surprise us.
“Overcomer” is rated PG for some thematic elements.
Also worth watching this month:
- “Unplanned” — It’s the film about Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became pro-life after assisting with an abortion. “Unplanned” released on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 13. It was rated R but should have been PG-13. Yes, the film shows an abortion on an ultrasound, but that’s the only scene in the film involving an actual abortion. The rest of the film follows Johnson’s story. Still this film isn’t for children. It’s disturbing and includes minor language.
- “Tolkien” — It’s the biopic about J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of “The Lord of the Rings.” “Tolkien” is a fascinating peek into the life of the famous author, although it doesn’t touch on his faith. It’s rated PG-13 for some sequences of war violence and is probably best for tweens and up. “Tolkien” released on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 6. It debuted on digital platforms in July.
- “Secret Life of Pets 2” — Don’t believe the critics. This animated film was better than its predecessor and it includes a great pro-family message about children. It released on digital platforms Aug. 13 and is out on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 27. Rated PG for some action and rude humor. (It also includes one unnecessary instance of “p-ssed.”)
- “Buddy Davis Amazing Adventures” — It’s an adventurous nature-centric children’s program with a biblical worldview. Buddy Davis goes on a dinosaur dig, visits the everglades, goes caving and explores Alaska and glaciers in this Answers in Genesis series. It’s now on Pureflix.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Michael Foust covers the intersection of faith and entertainment as a media reviewer for The Alabama Baptist. He also is the husband of an amazing wife and the father of four young children.