Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

God’s Not Dead is a mess even by Christian film standards

Anonymous
Posted by Anonymous
  • 96 Replies
2 moms liked this

 
Mar 24, 2014 3:08 PM

D-

God’s Not Dead

Director: Harold Cronk
Runtime: 113 minutes
Rating: PG
Cast: Shane Harper, Kevin Sorbo, David A.R. White


Even by the rather lax standards of the Christian film industry, God’s Not Dead is a disaster. It’s an uninspired amble past a variety of Christian-email-forward boogeymen that feels far too long at just 113 minutes. Resembling a megachurch more than a movie, it’s been designed not to convey any particular message, but to reinforce the stereotypes its chosen audience already holds. It weirdly fetishizes persecution, and many of its story decisions—like randomly tossing inDuck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson or concluding on an endless concert from popular Christian rock group Newsboys—seem designed to simply get butts in seats. To say God’s Not Dead preaches to the choir would be an understatement. It’s the pastor, staring in a mirror, preaching to himself.

The most worthwhile moments of God’s Not Dead come from Kevin Sorbo, of all people, who plays the film’s mustache-twirler of a villain, professor Jeffrey Radisson. Professor Radisson teaches an introduction to philosophical thought course that asks students, on the first day, to write on a sheet of paper that God is dead, then sign it for credit, so that he can move past the early stuff and get to the things he finds more fulfilling. As Radisson, Sorbo is playing a transparently awful person, but he has fun with his most villainous moments and even locates a few notes of sorrow and regret in Radisson’s backstory.

That makes it all the easier to side with Radisson against the film’s protagonist and supposed hero, young Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a freshman who ends up in Radisson’s class and decides to not just refuse to write that God is dead but also take the professor up on his challenge to somehow prove the existence of God in front of the class. Josh does this mostly by arguing that maybe he can’t prove God exists but Radisson can’t prove he doesn’t either, and by using complex computer animations of the galaxy that recall Fox’s recent reboot of Cosmos, which he apparently pulled together in his spare time over a couple of days. (Josh is evidently fine with both the Big Bang theory and evolution, but only if God’s behind them.) Josh, and the film that takes his viewpoint, doesn’t dare actually engage with Radisson’s arguments; any legitimate critiques of Christianity are ignored in favor of suggesting that all atheists are just haters who need someone to ask them to point out on the doll where organized religion touched them.

Because God’s Not Dead appears to take much of its inspiration from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, a half-dozen other plots that have little to nothing to do with Radisson and Josh’s battle are indifferently sprinkled throughout, the better to work in as many other email-forward antagonists as possible. The superfluous side characters include a woman who has converted to Christianity right under her Muslim family’s nose, a liberal blogger who receives a troubling medical diagnosis, a Christian woman who fears she is “unequally yoked” to a non-believer, a hip pastor and his African missionary friend who just want to go to Disney World, a douchebag businessman who adds nothing to the film except for getting to be played by Dean Cain, and a young Chinese student who frequently calls his father back in China to tell him about God and allow the audience to stew thoughtfully over the threat of communism. The film’s screenplay even finds room for a subplot involving the Newsboys, even though the band doesn’t show up until the film is mostly over.

As in Magnolia, the way these storylines come together is meant is provoke contemplation of a central thesis. But the frog shower in Magnolia provided more compelling proof of God’s existence than anything in God’s Not Dead. The movie’s deck-stacking arguments could be refuted in a matter of seconds by a pro-atheist subreddit. Sorbo leavens the film from time to time, but director Harold Cronk has absolutely no idea how to frame shots or pace scenes, and too many of them stretch on interminably and indifferently. Christian films are often done in by their need to follow a literal come-to-Jesus storyline, but at least movies like the Kirk Cameron vehicle Fireproof offer up an earnest intensity that makes them somewhat watchable. God’s Not Dead reduces all of its characters to props in an object lesson.

The film’s closing credits open with a lengthy list of recent court cases in which on-campus religious groups have argued their First Amendment rights have been infringed upon. There’s far more drama in these cases, reduced to a series of blurbs, than in the movie’s central plot. But if God’s Not Dead had actually engaged with its story or characters, it wouldn’t have had time for reality-star cameos and rock concerts. Cronk sort of knows what a movie looks like, but he doesn’t get how hilarious it is that he concludes his own film with the rom-com cliché of someone running through the rain to profess his love—in this case, to Jesus. Even the usual Christian stakes of going to hell aren’t really an issue here. Instead, the film finds its stakes in the suggestion that the greatest persecution of all isn’t dying for your beliefs, but being forced to accept that other people might believe something different.
Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:48 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Anonymous
by Anonymous on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:50 PM
3 moms liked this

so basically the person who wrote this is an atheist

Anonymous
by Anonymous on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:53 PM

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I get a bad vibe from this writer. He sounds like he has a stick up his butt about something. Maybe the movie made him think and that made him mad. 

Anonymous
by Anonymous - Original Poster on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:55 PM

So basically you've ignored any legitimate points that the author may have made because he is probably an atheist.

Jamie1972
by Ruby Member on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:56 PM
1 mom liked this

Well with over 8 million in ticket sales on Friday alone, think many people might disagree. (Well they may agree if they didn't like the movie) And that's just on a limited number of screens. Kevin sorbo has said how proud he is of this movie. 

cupomeow
by Gold Member on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:58 PM
Eh, I will probably watch it regardless. I like David AR White.
B1Bomber
by Platinum Member on Mar. 25, 2014 at 1:59 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm not sure why anyone expects these kinds of movies to reach anyone but Christians...they are made to give a Christian audience something to watch. Supply and demand.

Although I happened to love Fireproof and the followup Courageous...not for the talent, but for the stories and lessons. Beautiful.

Anonymous
by Anonymous - Original Poster on Mar. 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM
3 moms liked this

I don't doubt for a second that tons of Christians will absolutely love this movie, but therein lies the problem. It preaches to the choir and reaffirms stereotypes of athiests. They will likely leave the movie with a renewed passion for fighting back against all the evil, pushy atheists in the world that are trying to "kill God." The reality is, most atheists are not trying to take god away from anybody, and in a school setting, this scenario is not likely to happen at all. It is just as likely as a Christian professor threatening to fail a student who doesn't admit to god's existance. It's playing into the imaginary "christian persecution in America," thing, while justifying christian's distrust of atheists. It's another Us vs. Them issue.

Quoting Jamie1972:

Well with over 8 million in ticket sales on Friday alone, think many people might disagree. (Well they may agree if they didn't like the movie) And that's just on a limited number of screens. Kevin sorbo has said how proud he is of this movie. 


Anonymous
by Anonymous - Original Poster on Mar. 25, 2014 at 2:07 PM
1 mom liked this

That's the thing. Only Christians will watch it, and it will only serve to make them distrust atheists even more than they already do. But this scenario isn't even realistic.

Just imagine if it were the other way around. Either way, it's about Christian persecution, which is nonexistant in this country. All it's doing is fanning those flames.

Quoting B1Bomber:

I'm not sure why anyone expects these kinds of movies to reach anyone but Christians...they are made to give a Christian audience something to watch. Supply and demand.

Although I happened to love Fireproof and the followup Courageous...not for the talent, but for the stories and lessons. Beautiful.


Trudestevens
by Member on Mar. 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM
1 mom liked this

Anything to do with GOD is Horse-Sh---t!!! who needs a puppet show about God when God can speak directly to you???? They director probably is low on cash this week because his church flock ran off to Vegas to redeem themselves. Id just waste my money on God movies. just total BS.

B1Bomber
by Platinum Member on Mar. 25, 2014 at 2:12 PM

I wouldn't call Christian persecution nonexistant, although it's certainly not prevalent or institutional.

I haven't but probably will see the movie, mostly because Kevin Sorbo. Lol, Hercules as college professor :)

Quoting Anonymous:

That's the thing. Only Christians will watch it, and it will only serve to make them distrust atheists even more than they already do. But this scenario isn't even realistic.

Just imagine if it were the other way around. Either way, it's about Christian persecution, which is nonexistant in this country. All it's doing is fanning those flames.

Quoting B1Bomber:

I'm not sure why anyone expects these kinds of movies to reach anyone but Christians...they are made to give a Christian audience something to watch. Supply and demand.

Although I happened to love Fireproof and the followup Courageous...not for the talent, but for the stories and lessons. Beautiful.



Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)