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Facing the Giants
Drama, Sport
IMDB rating:
Alex Kendrick
Erin Bethea as Alicia Houston
James Blackwell as Matt Prater
Bailey Cave as David Childers
Shannen Fields as Brooke Taylor
Tracy Goode as Brady Owens
Alex Kendrick as Grant Taylor
Jim McBride as Bobby Lee Duke
Tommy McBride as Jonathan Weston
Jason McLeod as Brock Kelley
Steve Williams as Larry Childers
Chris Willis as J.T. Hawkins Jr.
Ray Wood as Mr. Bridges
Kyle Scott as Shiloh Football Player
Dan W. Howell Sr. as Announcer #2
Mary Smit as Field Nurse
Storyline: An action-packed drama about a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure. In six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season. After learning that he and his wife Brooke face infertility, Grant discovers that a group of fathers are secretly organizing to have him dismissed as head coach. Devastated by his circumstances, he cries out to God in desperation. When Grant receives a message from an unexpected visitor, he searches for a stronger purpose for his football team. He dares to challenge his players to believe God for the impossible on and off the field. When faced with unbelievable odds, the Eagles must step up to their greatest test of strength and courage. What transpires is a dynamic story of the fight between faith and fear.
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The little movie that could...
To give you a little background on how the film came about, brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, associate pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, decided to write a movie which they projected to be, in their pastor's words, an "out of the box" ministry tool. The church banded together and raised a meager $100,000 dollar budget to finance the entire film. Almost everyone involved volunteered their time and resources, including ALL of the actors, and pitched in to make this "David" of a movie "face giants" of it's own in the box office, as it came out right around the release of Disney's "Invincible".

The story is centered around a Christian School football coach of six years, facing the loss of his star running back, and by extension, the dreary future of another losing year. As tension mounts, on the field and at home, it seems there is no hope. The movie trudges forward through the miry clays of every day life, giving it a definite ring of authenticity in the ear of every viewer. The first half almost seems too depressing, too real, which is what most people go to the movies to escape...reality. Yet, the film raises many questions we face in every day life, and gives many answers...without being corny or "preachy". The result? A film more inspiring and Scripture filled than most sermons heard in churches across this country on Sunday mornings!

From an "artistic" point of view, the acting was pretty good, excellent for a Christian movie. The plot seemed to move well, broken up with a little football action, which keeps it from becoming too boring. Salted with a little comedy here and there, the movie did a great job of breaking the "status quo" for a religious film. I was moved to tears more than once, which brought a great balance to the experience. I also didn't find myself asking the question my "Adult ADD self" has asked while watching other Christian movies, "When will this be over?"

I don't want to seem too negative about Christian film making, but let's be honest...most of them are pretty bad. The only semblance of value is found in the message that they (sometimes) are trying to portray. This film, on the other hand, even with it's minuscule budget, does a great job at being both entertaining and spiritually uplifting, unlike the more recent "One Night With The King", whose budget exceeded $20 million dollars, and is no where near as scriptural, encouraging, or entertaining...(more on that one later...)

If I could describe this movie in one word, it would be "Faith". That's what it's all about, and that's what you will walk away with more of after viewing the, in my opinion, best Christian movie ever made. When talking about the film Alex Kendrick said, "God is a better director than Steven Spielberg, a better producer than Jerry Bruckheimer, a better writer than George Lucas.", and in the end, you will agree! This movie is proof that what the Bible says is true, when it states in 1 Corinthians 1:27..."But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong".

Out of 5 stars possible, Facing the Giants receives:

Overall: 9 Spiritual: 10 Artistic: 7 Family Friendly: 9 (I lower it to a 4 only because younger kids might find it a bit taxing, as it is a "dialogue" based movie...)
Enjoyable to watch in spite of common theme
Watched this sleeper at the recommendation of a handful of friends, oh boy was I ever glad I did. This is one of those movies that you either shrug off as being "another inspirational sports movie" or let have an impact on you and change the way you live your life. I chose the latter. The movie was well-acted and the characters believable, but the message was better than the movie itself.

We've heard the plot line before: losing high school football coach (Georgia in this instance) turns his team around. I could count dozens of sports movies that use this, most of which are fairly enjoyable to watch, but also cliché, not to mention I am not that big of a sports guy (yes, I know, I'm in American male, what's wrong with me...haha).

How Facing the Giants is different is when the coach feels there is no where else to turn as he is about to be terminated after 6 losing seasons, finances are tough, and he and his wife can't have a baby, instead of digging down and finding the winner in him and "working harder", he turns to his faith. Spurred on by an unexpected visitor with a profound message, the coach starts to think about his own life and how it is unfolding. I know a lot of critics and audiences are immediately turned off by this, but I have seen evidence of faith at work in others lives many times, similar to fashion and examples offered up in the movie. It definitely made me take a look at the way I live my own life and yes, tears were shed.

As the coach puts more faith and trust into God his life slowly starts turning around. His players evaluate their own relationships with each other, one mends a relationship with his estranged father, and his fellow coaches start incorporating faith into the football practices. As the movie progresses we see students using the coach's football field to meet for prayer and repair & heal broken relationships, a car anonymously donated to him (his previous car being on its last leg), his wife finally becomes pregnant, one of the teams they lose to in their journey becoming disqualified for cheating, and his team moving to the state championship level.

One of the most memorable scenes in the move was the "death crawl" scene where the coach pushes one of his key players to give his all and ends up doing something totally unheard of to all the other players. At this point the belief starts to snowball for the team.

The final scenes of the movie revolve around the teams rivalry against the champion state team, who has taken the title for the last 3 years running - a team that is clearly faster, stronger, and 3 times the number of players available. You can probably guess what happens, but some divine intervention provides some influence for a team poised for greatness. Makes me think "Am I preparing my fields for harvest, or just waiting for blessings to happen?" Perhaps you may ask the same question when you watch the movie.
What a waste
This is not an attack on religion, but this movie served no purpose but to preach. Unfortunately even when you get past all of the religion the rest of the movie wasn't very good, and had little to offer in the way of entertainment.

If you are going to use a sports themed movie as a Trojan horse to spread the gospel, the very least the filmmakers can do is work harder on the overall quality of every other aspect of the movie. What was needed here was simple better script, better acting, and less preaching. I would personally be interested in seeing just how many times god was referenced in this film. My guess is the number is staggering. On the plus side for this film, amazingly enough the production values weren't half bad(factoring that this was a direct to video feature).

I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone...if it were this or nothing, I vote nothing.
Amateur, but inspiring
Make no mistake, this is not a polished Hollywood product. All of the actors are novices. The story is neatly packaged, but so what.

The thing that comes out of this film is the people playing the characters are real. I don't mean their performances are necessarily the greatest, but they are real in how they present the material.

There are too few films out there like this that are specifically intended to be for the Christian community. Nothing wrong with that. Films are allowed to imbue the filmmaker's belief's all the time. Funny that is an issue when it comes to Christianity.

Everyone here puts everything they have into this film and it shows. The leads are the better actors, rightfully so, and they bring an air of authenticity to their roles.

For the most part, the games are shot very well. There are instances when the action looks staged, but for the most part it is nicely done. The locations are all authentic south, as well they should be. Everyone has a real southern accent, not overly done Hollywood take on it. The story is not complex and it doesn't take a great sleuth to know all will be right in the end. But then again, that is the intended message; through God all things are possible.

I highly recommend this film to any youth director looking to show a film to their youth.
Christian Allegory - read this, Christians who hate this movie
I was surprised and saddened to read so many comments by Christians that were quite negative, even vitriolic, against this movie, and I wanted to highlight some positive aspects of it that those writers might have missed.

Those Christians who reacted negatively seemed to have two primary complaints: the content of the message, and the quality of the acting/production.

Regarding content, Christians who hated this movie came away with an opposite interpretation of the movie than I did. To quote one criticism, they felt the movie falsely implies God is "all about making our lives better, easier, and more enjoyable." Which they naturally felt was wrong. And I agree, except that I didn't think the movie gave any such impression. They seemed to miss the movie's entire point.

First, the movie is ALLEGORICAL, NOT PREDICTIVE. It wasn't trying to predict that such a series of miracles is likely to happen if we trust in God. It was specifically allegorical with regards to particular Bible events and principles, which are abundantly evident by the names used in the film. The team is the Eagles ("they shall mount up with wings like eagles"); the kicker who wins the game is David, the opposing team is the Giants, and the feat David attempts in order to beat the Giants is impossible. I'm not sure how much more blatant one can get when it comes to allegory.

The Christian critics think the movie says God is a genie who wants to make you successful and comfortable and to satisfy your personal desires. In fact, I felt the movie said EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE. Remember the coach's speech: "So far, all this has been about us – how we can look good, how we can get the glory. The more I read this book, the more I realize life's not about us. We're not here just to get glory, make money, and die. The Bible says that God put us here for him, to honor him... I think that football is just one of the tools we use to honor God... If we win we praise him, and if we lose we praise him. Either way, we honor him with our actions and our attitudes. I resolve to give God everything I've got, and I'll leave the results up to him." In other words, it doesn't say we WILL get what we want. It says God is CAPABLE of doing far beyond what we ask or imagine, when it brings glory to him.

In addition, the criticisms about all the miracles packed into the movie fail to see that not only is the movie allegorical, it is a COMPILATION of Christian principles, all with clear references to Biblical episodes that emphasize those principles, such as: God can do anything; We are called to be strong and courageous in the face of the impossible; God uses weakness for his glory, so it's clear what's being done is by God; Whether what happens is good or bad, we still love and praise God; and, God provides for our needs. (Not always with a new car. But sometimes he does. I saw this personally in a church I attended, where a car was donated, and a raffle held. It went – picked totally randomly in front of everyone – to a church member who really needed it, a single mom who was struggling and her car was failing, and she broke down in tears in front of the congregation giving praise to God.)

Regarding the quality of the film, perhaps a disclaimer would have helped audiences, e.g. "THIS IS NOT A Hollywood FILM." Hollywood almost never supports films with overtly evangelistic messages. All movies are not the same, and can't be compared on equal grounds. It's true these folks weren't professional actors; that should be taken into account. If IMDb is right, this was made with a budget of $10,000. I sat down to watch this, thinking "This is a movie made by the church down the street," not "This better be equivalent to a movie with a $50 million budget." Understanding this, I think it's nothing short of miraculous in its quality and impact. Perhaps they should have tried to set expectations a bit more ahead of time, because the public assumes that anything that shows up in a movie theater is a Hollywood-scale production.

In summary, the Christian critics seem to have wanted the makers to make a different movie – one about having faith through suffering, even when God doesn't give us what we want. Which is indeed another IMPORTANT and COMPLEMENTARY principle in Christianity – but this movie wasn't about that. It's true that believers have suffered throughout history. Sometimes God uses suffering to bring himself glory -- but sometimes God also uses an impossible victory. David DID defeat Goliath, the walls of Jericho DID fall down, and before Peter was martyred, an angel DID loosen his chains and open the prison doors. That is what this movie is about. But this movie also STRONGLY makes the point that the impossible victory is not for the believers' comfort, but for God's glory. Both perspectives are true – sometimes God uses suffering, and sometimes God uses victory, but both are only tools to further his plan. There are other movies that make the complementary point – one that I can think of is "End of the Spear," a true story about missionaries who were killed by the tribe they were trying to reach, only to inspire their families to follow in their steps and see the tribe accept the gospel. But that's not what this movie is intended to be. What it does is remind us that we frequently underestimate God and what he can do through weak and imperfect people like us. Sometimes God DOES do great and impossible things, but only when it brings glory to him.
You are not inferior.
guys to be honest before watching this movie i was loser i just thought i was useless but one day just for a waste time pass i saw this movie and believe me guys that was just apically epic after that i won the biggest battle in my life which was ahead of me and then i won again this movie just changed my life i strongly recommend to you all and specially to those who think there is nothing they can do they are just inferior and loser...thought that too but after watching this i am just gonna show everyone how great i am.Don't just ever someone say you that you are inferior or second rate..that because you are not just face your fears and you gonna be the all are born to be great and then just some of them become heroes..
The Kendrick brothers should be going for something drastically different than this
Facing the Giants takes two of the most cliché genres of film and merges them together to make an overbearing and monotonously cliché film. It takes the faith-based, bleeding-heart Christian subtext and stuffs it underneath the rugged storytelling quips of a pigskin drama and, in turn, makes a film that will win over its core demographic and not many others. You'd think that a company like Sherwood Pictures - one that is predicated off of making films that bear bold, Christian ideas - would try to branch out and reach as many as possible, rather than practically confining their films to their core demographic, leaving others as outsiders.

After a promising debut like Flywheel, I would've thought writer, actor, and director Alex Kendrick (who is also the associate pastor of the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia) would be going for something much different than something like Facing the Giants. With Flywheel, Alex and his brother Stephen, who served as the film's co-writer, the film concerned a used car salesman who, after careful contemplation and some religious involvement, found that his dishonest business practice of overcharging consumers for his automobiles was wrong and decided to "get right with God" and run and honest dealership (which is even referenced in this film by the shot of a license plate). The film portrayed the town of Albany, Georgia in a style I found close to a documentary-like format, with the whole area looking relatively unglamorous and the acting of most involved to be quite natural and believable. It wasn't a perfect film, bearing some instances of clear, rampant oversimplification, but overall, it was a strong film with a solid idea behind it. It also appeared from that film that the Kendrick brothers were going for a low-key but intimate manner of filmmaking rather than your typical, heart-on-sleeve kind of filmmaking many of these films utilize.

With Facing the Giants, naturalism and low-budget photography is traded for a cloying artificiality and antiseptic niceness in shot and direction that wasn't present with the Kendrick brothers' debut. The dialog has been modified from a more subtle, less boisterous religious interference into tedious and redundant moralizing, where every line of dialog must reference God, faith, religion, or something of the sorts. If God was watching this film, I'm sure he'd get tired of the publicity and ubiquity of his own character.

The film revolves around Grant Taylor (Alex Kendrick), Shiloh Christian Academy's head coach of their football team, who has beared a losing record for the past six years. When his seventh season opens with a three game losing streak, the players' fathers grow concerned about Taylor's consistent lack of authority over the players, and how yet another losing season could cost several players their scholarships and their opportunities at larger schools. Taylor is in talks to be replaced with the academy's defensive coordinator Brady Owens (Tracy Goode), who bears a more stable record than Taylor's. To rub salt in Taylor's already rough wounds, his car is breaking down, the income between his wife and himself is just a bit over $30,000 a year, and discovers that he is infertile and is unable to conceive with his long-devoted wife.

Speaking of which, a great scene comes early in the film when all of this dawns on a sleep-deprived Taylor, who is sitting awake at the dinner table after hearing the players' fathers conspire to replace him and get him ousted as Shiloh's football coach. The pressure about the failing team gets to him, his finances become overwhelming, and just the thought that God has prevented him from having children makes him completely crack and break down. While Kendrick struggles a bit with the more emotional side of acting, this is a pretty somber scene that allows the audience to really look over what Taylor has to deal with before just breaking down under the crushing weight of everything. It's sad and undoubtedly relatable to many people.

Taylor decides to kick his team into high-gear, coaching them with much more rigor, pushing his players to do more and achieve more than they thought they could, and play for themselves, their parents, their coaches, but most importantly, God, who they will praise whether they win or lose. Another interesting and motivating scene comes during one day's practice, where Taylor takes the team's leader, who doesn't seem to put his effort into everything he does, and makes him perform the "death crawl" (where one person gets on their hands and feet and crawls with another person on their back - the trick is their knees cannot touch the ground) to the fifty yard line of the football field. Here, Kendrick and the student (Jason McLeod) demonstrate completely invigorating acting skills that show motivation and power. For those reasons alone, the scene is made powerful and all the more intense, even if the outcome is more or less inevitable.

Based on the rather basic evaluation of two key scenes in the film, you'd think I'd be praising Facing the Giants. In fact, I truly wish I was, as the Kendrick brothers are two of the most dominant and reliable forces in the independent Christian cinema movement in terms of producing films of some sort of creative and structural quality. However, those two scenes and a solid performance or two is all Facing the Giants really has. It shows inevitably troubled characters in an inevitably trying situation until they find their inevitable faith in God in an inevitably cheesy and oversimplified way that will carry them to the inevitable conclusion that will provide inevitable cheers from the film's core audience because of its routine but "inspiring" inevitability. The audience, and the Kendrick brothers, deserve so much more than something like this.

Starring: Alex Kendrick, Shannen Fields, Tracy Goode, and Jason McLeod. Directed by: Alex Kendrick.
Unforgiving Christian Propaganda
The tagline of this film should be "Believe in Jesus, and God will bless you with a new truck, disqualify the opposing team and make you pregnant". It is unforgiving Christian propaganda that will no doubt be reassuring to the blissfully faithful.

For a more inspirational, better made and less preachy film, I'd recommend "Hoosiers", which this movie clearly borrows (steals?) from, only twisting the plot for its own agenda. Director Alex Kendrick has made Albany, GA, USA a Christian film empire of the world, and I least applaud him for that, because the area can benefit from any economic opportunities.
faith-based hegemony
This isn't a film, it's a 111-minute Evangelical Christian sermon draped over red state America's #1 sport, high school football. Another of the long, earnest messages to the converted who are then presumed to be fired up enough by the spirit to go abroad and convert their unsaved neighbours.

Dialogue like "You won the big one when you accepted Christ" loses any possible camp appeal by the disturbing intensity in director/Coach Alex Kendrick's sunken black eyes. Then there are the "parables".

Two farmers prayed for rain but only one prepared his field to receive it. Which one do you think God blessed? This rhetorical question is meant to foreshadow the miraculous climax, in the course of which Coach asks his trepidous back-up kicker, "Son, do you think God could help you make that kick?" It's the kind of entertainment we could have expected would receive faith-based funding ad infinitum, if only the Evangelical Christian Bush Administration's hegemonic pursuits around the world had convinced us all to become "devout" after their example. Behold that poor Giants coach in the apocalyptic finale, urging his team on crying "Who's with me!" while the devout Eagles on the other side were quietly going about doing the Lord's work.

So, do you think our terrified back-up makes his kick to vanquish those self-centrist Goliaths? Well, we all know zealots can't lose. Put it this way: Transfer the playing ground to the deserts of the Middle East, replace the Christian proselytizing, and this virulent nonsense can easily be repackaged as a Taliban-vs-Superpower parable, which the devout worshippers of this garbage might want to think about a minute.

Luckily they won't care, nor need to: like Coach tells his team of earnest empty vessels pregame, the answers are all right here in this Book. And the Christian Right will devour this on their way to their Rapture, that final victory they have prepared their fields for.
Worst movie ever!!
This has got to be the worst movie I've ever seen. We all spent more time laughing at the bad actors than anything else. It was like watching something on Saturday Night Live. And the story is absolutely ridiculous. Pray to Jesus and you will score more touchdowns is basically it in a nutshell. Yeah, b/c Jesus doesn't have anything better to save kids dying from starvation around the world, he is concentrating on your football game. HA! What a joke! I'm mad that I wasted time watching this. If I hadn't been part of a group who wanted to see it, I would have gotten up and left after the first 15 minutes. If you don't believe me, just give it a try. I've warned you!
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