Film Review: ‘Faith of Our Fathers’

faith-of-our-fathers
Courtesy of Pure Flix

This drama of friendship and wartime remembrance is another dubious cinematic sermon from the outfit behind 'God's Not Dead.'

Two men on a road trip find themselves bonding just like their Vietnam-veteran dads once did in “Faith of Our Fathers,” a clumsily told story of friendship and wartime remembrance that has a tough time serving up a halfway believable moment, let alone a moving and powerful testimony about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Amazingly graceless as it veers from broad situational comedy to stiff, po-faced military drama, this latest dubious cinematic sermon from Pure Flix (which also produced the 2014 faith-based hit “God’s Not Dead”) seems likely to appeal strictly to that segment of the audience that would seem to require it least — namely, believers who have trouble telling the difference between art and propaganda, or understanding why the difference matters.

It’s 1997 when a Midwestern churchgoer named John Paul George (Kevin Downes) flies down to Mississippi to meet with Eddie Adams, an old Vietnam War buddy of his late father, Steven. Instead, John Paul finds himself face to face with Eddie’s son, Wayne (David A.R. White), an ornery skeptic who initially refuses to answer his questions about the friendship between their respective dads, but then impulsively drags this visitor along on a road trip to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Over the course of their journey, these two sons will squabble endlessly, get duped by a pair of Australian hitchhikers (one of whom is played by the popular Christian singer Rebecca St. James), wind up in county jail for a brief spell, and repeatedly clash over their very different points of view.

“You’re not a Jesus freak, are ya?” Wayne snarls at John Paul, echoing an early scene of their dads in 1969 Vietnam, where the Bible-toting Steven (Sean McGowan) earned the derisive nickname “Preacher Boy” from the atheist Eddie (Scott Whyte). As directed by Carey Scott (who co-wrote the script with three other scribes, including Downes and White), the entire movie is interspersed with these regular flashbacks (introduced via some of the most eye-rolling scene transitions ever devised in a cutting room), which earned the picture a PG-13 rating for scenes of military violence even as they remain utterly devoid of tension or suspense. Naturally, whether Eddie and Wayne will eventually see the error of their ways and turn to Christ remains the least mysterious question of all in a movie that reduces the outcome of the drama, and the very issue of salvation itself, to a foregone conclusion.

It’s hard to convincingly portray a genuine conversion onscreen, and harder still to achieve a level of profundity that might actually provoke a spiritual epiphany in the viewer. To these God-fearing eyes, “Faith of Our Fathers” accomplishes neither — not even with a solemn Stephen Baldwin on hand to tip the scales in the Lord’s favor in the role of a battle-hardened sergeant who once served his country alongside Eddie and Steven, and who now serves a much higher authority. Rounding out the cast is Candace Cameron Bure (“Full House”) as John Paul’s perky fiancee, who becomes increasingly annoyed (and annoying) as his journey stretches on for much longer than they had anticipated. After 96 minutes of strained comedy, forced pathos and amateurish storytelling en route to a tearjerking finale, the viewer will more than understand how she feels.

Film Review: 'Faith of Our Fathers'

Reviewed online, Los Angeles, July 1, 2015. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 96 MIN.

Production

A Pure Flix and Samuel Goldwyn Films release and presentation of a Downes Brothers production in association with Pure Flix Entertainment & Oakwater Films. Produced by Kevin Downes, Bobby Downes, David A.R. White, Michael Scott, Shelene Bryan. Executive producers, Christopher Morrow, Bill Herren, Kevin Malone. Co-producers, Daryl Lefever, Tom Saab.

Crew

Directed by Carey Scott. Screenplay, Scott, Harold Uhl, Kevin Downes, David A.R. White; story, Scott. Camera (color), Randall Gregg; editors, David de Vos, Alex Kendrick; music, Marc Fantini, Steffan Fantini; production designer, Mona Nahm; art directors, Christian Kistner, Sarah Staskauskas; set decorator, Elizabeth Callens; costume designer, Briana Jorgenson; sound, Saravoot Kaitkalang; re-recording mixer, Matthew Waters; special effects, John Hartigan, Zack Knight, Glenn Sabin; stunt coordinator, Monte Perlin; line producer, Chris Jones; assistant director, Michael G. Maurer; second unit director, the Erwin Brothers; casting, Beverly Holloway.

With

Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Downes, David A.R. White, Rebecca St. James, Si Robertson, Candace Cameron Bure, Scott Whyte, Sean McGowan, David O’Donnell, Ryan Doom, Billoah Greene.

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  1. Vercoda says:

    On the plus side, such stinkers of films are never, ever, ever released outside America (where they only seem to play in… less worldly places, shall we say), which is something we non-Americans are very happy about indeed. There are no Christian fundamentalists left here in Europe to take in such trite of done evangelical films – but then, we’ve already had the Age of Enlightenment, unlike more… resilient parts of America. I look forward to reading of the next preachy film that’s also sure to drop like an anchor outside sleepier parts of the Midwest.

  2. Zatique says:

    Asking Variety to review a Christian film is like asking Phil Robertson to review Brokeback Mountain.

  3. Chris Jackson says:

    Wow, kinda harsh; We get you didn’t like it, but nothing can be that bad. Lighten up, go see avengers again…..

  4. Jodi says:

    Don’t go see the movie
    Waste of time and money
    It’s terribly done
    A disgrace to Vietnam vets
    Movies about our soldiers and their missions demand excellence
    If you don’t have a big enough budget to do it well…
    Don’t do it.
    This production company embarrassed themselves and trampled on the sacrifice of our American soldiers.
    They say it honored them…
    It did not.
    My husband is a vet.
    I’m so glad he was not with me on the theater when I saw it.

  5. Jim H says:

    The naivete of a movie reviewer that is lecturing about propaganda in films is unbelievable. Most films these days are made to promote and agenda. Every once in a while it is good to have a film that shows a different world view than the typical one of Hollywood.

  6. peterbahi says:

    Can your review scream, “I hate Christianity” any louder? I don’t mind you saying a movie stinks, after all, that.is your job, but your review seemed unjustly harsh.

    • Kathy says:

      The reviewer doesn’t hate Christianity. Read his review of ‘Noah.’ He just hated this movie. Because it was terrible.

      • chris says:

        I speak as a born again Christian of 16 years. So please take this as a kind critique.
        It doesn’t matter whether the film is Christian or not, the content is what matters. We Christians make some of the worst movies and the acting is so outlandishly pathetic. STOP making movies and making the Christian community look like IDIOTS!!!

        Go to acting school!!!!
        And by the way, directors, screenwriters, seriously find a new line of work!!! At the very least go work in the secular movie industry for a decade and learn WHY they are so much BETTER than us!!! You only contribute to the justified mockery that heads our way!!

        Sincerely

        Chris

    • doubledang says:

      All I can say is, it’s funny that you assume the reviewer can’t possibly be Christian himself, indeed must “hate Christianity.” Because while the reviewer isn’t announcing his beliefs here…well, anyway, you’re very wrong. Why do people like you always make that assumption that anyone who doesn’t like a “faith-based entertainment” must be an atheist? You can’t even grasp the idea that different Christians might have a range of opinions and attitudes different from yours. Let alone that they might judge a movie as a movie, rather than solely by the worthiness of its “message.”

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