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FACING THE GIANTS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Alex Kendrick, Shannen Fields, Bailey Cave, Jason McLeod
Director:  Alex Kendrick
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  111 Minutes
Release Date:  January 30, 2007

“WHAT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GOD?”

“NOTHING, COACH!!”

Film ***1/2

Last night I watched as my beloved Florida Gators took the field against the Ohio State Buckeyes for the National Championship.  The Gators weren’t supposed to be there, they said.  They were outclassed in every area and facing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.  Nobody thought the Florida team stood a chance.  Guess somebody forgot to tell them that.

Tonight, I watched the Shiloh Christian Academy Eagles Facing the Giants.  They too were outclassed.  Led by their coach Grant Taylor (Kendrick, who also directed and co-wrote), they hadn’t had a winning season in six years.  The players were apathetic.  The town was frustrated.  Coach Taylor had one foot out the door, and couldn’t seem to make anything work either on or off the gridiron. 

But there’s no quit in him, and soon there’s no quit in his team or the school.  Believing that with God all things are indeed possible, Coach Taylor sets the playbook aside and opens the scriptures instead.  He teaches his boys to believe in God and in themselves.  Their faith sparks a revival in the school, and soon the community.  And a team of scared young men learn to face their fears and bring out the best in themselves and each other.

Yes, it’s the kind of sports movie you’ve seen before.  You just may not have seen one that wears its faith so proudly on its sleeve.  Facing the Giants is unapologetically Christian and isn’t afraid to speak its message loud and clear, through word, deed and action.  Like many such movies, you may not remember who was who when the end credits roll around, but you will have stood up, cheered, clapped, cried and maybe, just maybe shared in a word of thanks to the Almighty as the Eagles do time and time again.

It’s so nice to see something like this every once in a while…a movie that forgoes cold hard cynicism for a bold belief in the miracles of every day.  Or for that matter, a film that proclaims loudly the spirit of never giving up, never losing hope and never forgetting faith in the face of impossible odds.  It’s a movie about believing in yourself, to be sure, but also one that dares to say that believing in something greater than yourself can cause doors to open that seemed permanently shut.

Coach Taylor’s journey of faith is universal and allegorical.  It’s a message we’ve heard time and time again, but it is a message we can ever hear enough of?  “Your job is to do your best,” he tells the team, “and leave the results up to God.” 

A good philosophy for football…but an even better one for life.

BONUS TRIVIA:  University of Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt makes an appearance to share his advice and his faith.

Video ***

The anamorphic transfer is more than serviceable, despite being a lower-budgeted film shot mostly under the Friday night lights of high school football.  There is some occasional grain and softness, but nothing too distracting…images are generally well rendered throughout, with solid coloring and detail.

Audio ***

This is no Any Given Sunday, but some gridiron action makes the 5.1 offering lively and dynamic enough for a solid evening’s entertainment.

Features ***1/2

There is a good commentary with Alex and Stephen Kendrick, as well as a behind the scenes documentary, plus an outtake reel, deleted scenes, an interview with Mark Richt, a trailer, and a musical tribute.

Summary:

Facing the Giants is a fearless testament of faith, and more than a little refreshing in this day and age.  It’s a perfect family film (the PG rating was issued because of a subplot involving Coach Taylor and his wife’s desire to have a child…thank you for another brilliant decision, MPAA).  This picture will move you.

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