Sunday, August 05, 2012

Movie Notes -- Courageous

In general, I do not like "message" movies. In fact, to say I do not like them is an understatement. I LOATHE them. Most moviegoers don't seem to understand that a good or important message alone cannot make a movie worth the trouble and expense of watching (let alone the trouble and expense of making). That Courageous is brought to us by the same group who gave us the horrendous Facing the Giants did give me room to pause.But I found myself really enjoying this interesting little film.

There are five main characters in Courageous: four policemen and an honest, hard working day laborer. The main character of the story is Adam Mitchell, played by director and co-writer Alex Kendrick. He seems to be the mentor and unofficial leader of the group, someone who wears his faith on his sleeve, but is likable even in his crusty mannerism (or because of them perhaps). When his daughter is killed, he doesn't so much question his faith (as the promo material says), as much as whether he has been and is the father he should have been, saying that "good enough" is not good enough. He eventually decides to make a resolution that he asks his friends to help him stay accountable to, and his friends decide to sign it as well. 

There is more, much more, to the story than this, but that is the gist of the message and the plot, which I'm sure will put off some. But this isn't just about being a good father or a better father or even a biblical father, but about the importance of fatherhood. That also may put off some, but because this story is written  and acted pretty well, and isn't so preachy, I think most people will enjoy the movie, even if they don't buy its basic premise.

I haven't decided if there is too much story or not. On one hand, there is a lot to follow, as each of the other male characters have their own issues to deal with. I loved (and related best with) the character of Javier, and felt that, David,  the one unmarried man in the group (played by Ben Davies) could have had a whole movie about his story. On the other hand, these stories ask a lot of an audience in terms of emotional investment. I can say that the film, for the most part, pulls off all these narratives without leaving gaping holes or confusing the audience. And it is much more honest and gritty a movie than most in its rather narrow genre.

Yes, the movie is hokey in places. Yes, it is heavy-handed with its message in places. But overall, the experience of watching Courageous is quite satisfying and well worth your time.

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