Facing the Giants
...or will it? More on that later...
Facing the Giants is the story of Grant Taylor, a failing highschool football coach, who also happens to drive a junk car, live in a house that smells something fierce, and to top it all off, he and his wife are coping with the prospect of infertility. As his troubles begin to climax and his job and dreams are threatened, God teaches him important lessens that strengthen his, his team's, and ultimately the entire school's faith. The film explores the many ways that other characters are changed by the change in Grant's life as he puts his faith to work in his life and job.
First things first--here's the good.
Watching it is an enjoyable experience. It packs a powerful emotional punch, timing several parallel plotlines to climax and resolve in similar (albeit clichéd) fashion, at the same time. There was some profundity, enough humor, and the football action was surprisingly well done. The acting, although not polished, is good for two reason's: the language is spotless no matter how emotional some scenes got and still carried enough authenticity to pass muster.
The moral of the film can be summed up thus: Keep trusting in Christ, work in any calling as unto Him, giving him the praise for the results, and he will bless you, doing the impossible if need be. Do your best, leave the rest to God.
Some memorable lines:
"How can I miss someone so much when I haven't even met them?"Facing the Giants provides a lot to chew on however. The most apparent problem is the one I alluded to at the top. This film preaches to the choir. While I don't pretend to think that God can't use a movie like this, it still is only going to appeal to a Christian audience. It was easy for me to get involved with the characters precisely because I could relate to them on a spiritual level. It just won't have that initial affect on a nonchristian. This just highlights for me that movies cannot take the place of the preaching of the gospel from the pulpit. I mean really, there are parts where the mini contemporary sermons make even me yawn.
"You can't not make the team any more than if you don't try"
There's another set of problems that form the basis for what annoyed me the most. Basically Giants takes hold and utilizes some of the favorite bad habits of the mainstream evangelical psyche.
First, while the film does everything to put the lack of Christ at the root of our culture's problems, it completely ignores the church's role in the process. The film portrays two communities--the family and the Christian school--so exclusively one would think the church didn't exist, or is needed for that matter.
The second "bad habit" comes when we see coach Taylor receiving an extra-biblical revelation from an eccentric man who every day walks the school halls praying for the children... "I just felt led to give you this message" is something I've heard countless times. Does this mean that people should just wait for their own little private revelations in order to get through tough times? To learn something from this film, must viewers hope they will just get that big break in the form of a prophet who can tell them verbatim what they should do? All I can say (with plenty of irony) is "good luck."
Third and finally, the turning point for the apathy-filled school ends up being a classic "revival." Students crying their eyes out, breaking up into spontaneous small groups all over the football field, kids dedicating themselves to Christ in the midst of a huge emotional upheaval. This tends to be the idealized pinnacle of gospel success in the minds of many ministers. Again, how realistic is this really? I won't deny any possibilities, but (excuse me while I become opinionated) beyond the fact that similar scenarios rarely appear except after the latest school shooting, I have always been very suspicious of such displays because real mindful "decisions for Christ" (to borrow a phrase that means nothing without regeneration) from kids aren't anymore likely under that kind of emotional stress than someone making the proper calculation in order to avoid a car accident based only on their emotional reaction to the scare.
So you've heard enough about what I think…with no spoilers I hope. If you enjoy football action, enjoy a feel-good movie or are just thankful to find a clean movie that doesn’t amount to Veggie-tales, by all means, go watch Facing the Giants.