Hollywood does not have a monopoly on film making, though the movie moguls there wish they did. I’m sure it galls them when a movie like War Room tops the box office as it did a couple of weekends ago in the United States.
War Room is the latest from the Kendrick Brothers, whose most recent releases were Courageous and Fireproof. The Kendricks are part of a church that a few years ago did more than lament that Hollywood was not interested in making family friendly movies – they did something about it. The church began making its own films for theatrical distribution, with church members learning the tools of the trade, both behind the cameras and in front of them Not only did they learn, they learned well. People go to see the films, which due to volunteer labour are produced on a much smaller budget than a Hollywood film would be. War Room, for example, was made with a budget of about $3 million.
As I understand it, to break even a film has to earn three times its production cost to break even. War Room has brought in more than $40 million so far. Hollywood studios are green with envy. The film comes out in Canada today, and I would strongly encourage those Canadians reading this to go see it – if not this weekend then sometime in the next week. Distributors make decisions on what movies to show based to a large degree on opening weekend numbers.
I saw the film a couple of weeks ago at a special preview screening. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew from the advance materials that the film was about prayer, and I wasn’t all that sure that it would be an entertaining two hours. I was wrong.
I prefer my Christian filmmaking to be a bit more subtle in its message. A film about prayer seemed to be a little bit of a sledgehammer approach to me. What saved it was that the movie has some genuinely funny moments, especially some lines delivered by two young actresses, Alena Pitts and Kathleen Dellinger. Watch for them when you see the movie. As a rule I don’t like child actors, but I’ll make an exception for those two, they are natural comics.
This is definitely a message film, you need to be aware of that going in. It is a simple message: prayer is powerful, especially when things are tough. The situations are believable, the acting for the most part pretty good (I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between paid actors and volunteers in the film), the script reasonable if a bit preachy in spots, the photography well done.
It’s not a perfect film, but then again the perfect film doesn’t exist. However, I found it to be a much better film than The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the most recent Hollywood offering I have seen. War Room shows people in situations I could relate to. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a series of fast-paced clichés – ear and eye candy for a Tuesday night. War Room is much closer to reality. Maybe that’s why Hollywood can’t make movies like this. Reality scares them.
So go see War Room. Then leave a message here to tell me what you thought of it.