Courageous Redux
More Than More of the Same

In the Christian niche market, “more of the same” from directors and producers generally results in an audience (and pastoral) response that looks more like “Well, I think I’ll take a pass this time.”  That’s because, for the most part, the product in question is substandard in one or more ways and has been marketed in a bait-and-switch fashion that packages cut-rate entertainment as the next great evangelistic tool.  Think of the Left Behind series (now on the verge of being rebooted… whoo-hoo!), The Nativity Story, or even Rocky Balboa.  Yup.  There are only so many times you can sell the same pig.

When it comes to Sherwood Pictures’ products, however, “more of the same” means something different: movies that are getting more professional and challenging each time out, and offer not merely empty promises of help but sophisticated networks of ministry alliances that are queued up to provide constructive and positive practical assistance to families and men, particularly, spurred to action by what they’ve seen.

Further, Sherwood is staunchly committed to social action, committing large shares of their profits to improving their community of Albany, Georgia, as well as funding other relief (and evangelistic) missions across the country and globe.

In light of all this, I’m a little surprised that Courageous did not generate significantly more boxoffice than its predecessor, Fireproof.  But it’s possible the hardcore Faith audience can’t generate much more than $35 million in boxoffice—in which case, Sony Provident, Sherwood’s distribution partner, will simply have to learn to content themselves with films that earn $30 million more than they cost to make.  Oh, if only every distributor and producing partner had such a problem!

Alex Kendrick stars in CourageousStill, even upon second and third viewings, I think this is a better film than the boxoffice figures indicate.  And more, this is one of the rare home video releases whose “Bonus Features” really make you more excited about the film you’ve just watched.  (A great many simply leave you longing for the old days when you reached the end of your VHS or Beta tape and that was it… basking in the afterglow of a fine movie experience, without sifting through all the detritus that passes as a bonus.)

Here’s a rundown of just some of what you’ll get once the movie has run its course, all top-notch bonuses:

  • “Outrageous: Outtakes & Bloopers.”  I honestly don’t know where you’ll find a more entertaining collection of genuine bloopers and hamming for the camera.
  • “Heart of Courageous.”  Excellent insight into the social issues behind the script.
  • “The Story of My Father.”  Simply… wow.  I met the subject of this mini-documentary when I visited the site, and what looks impossibly sweet and loving is 100% genuine.  This is familial heroics in real life.
  • Courageous in 60 Seconds.” If you haven’t seen Sherwood’s parodic summations of their own films before, you’re in for real treat.  If you have… you’re in for a real treat!
  • “A Church of Prayer…”  The real deal.  I’ve seen it first hand, and been the beneficiary of its focus.  Check it out.
  • “Role of a Lifetime: Rev. Daniel Simmons.”  Find out more about Sherwood’s very personal (multiracial) alliance with other local congregations.

And this is literally just a fraction of what’s included.

So with this release you truly get the rare “value added” benefit of buying instead of streaming.

But what about the movie itself?  Well, I won’t recap my previous review, or bother re-synopsizing.  Suffice to say that, if you haven’t heard already, this is a movie about men (and cops, mostly) who realize they need to be much better fathers—and recommit themselves to that, with varying degrees of success.  And it does so in a way that very clearly adheres to the idea that clinging to God is the path toward making that happen.  And it does this with a fair amount of drama, action, and light comedic touches that will probably have you laughing out loud.

On my third viewing, though, one particular angle of the plot resonated with me.  As police officer Adam Mitchell begins to make progress on his path toward healing, he comes to a difficult decision: to thank God for the nine years he had with his daughter rather than wallowing in remorse about a future denied.

This is a point of maturity that has eluded me personally for almost fifty years.  Now, I don’t know if my first two times through Courageous were gently working on me in the background, but it was only a scant few weeks ago that I found myself lying in bed with my wife counting the ways that God has blessed me through our marriage.  The background to this is, as you may know, that Jenn has been critically ill for the last nine years and near death on countless occasions; yet still, before that afternoon in December, I really had not been struck by the extent to which every moment with Jenn—every touch, every intimate gesture—continues to be a mighty, mighty privilege.  And this goes back to my formative years as a child, conditioning my perceptions to be more about the things I was denied than the things I received.

So that moment in Courageous when Adam Mitchell tearfully thanks God and uses those nine years as motivation to get more out of the time that remains with his son just sort of leapt off the screen this time through.

Life is indeed one great privilege—and it becomes so much richer when we finally realize it.

Check out Courageous and see what it has to have to offer in that regard.

Courageous is rated PG-13 for “some violence and drug content.”  That’s about right, though I might lean toward a PG.

Courtesy of a national publicist, Greg screened a promotional DVD of Courageous.