“You’ve got to see this Christian movie—it’s Hollywood quality, but it was made by Christians, and we have to support Christians as they witness in one of the darkest corners of our culture!”
Why do I always fall for this line?
Most recently, the Christian movie I “had” to see was The Genesis Code, which was in and out of limited theaters briefly last year. The Christian hype mentioned that this “Christian movie of the year” was populated with actual Hollywood actors and produced with Hollywood-quality graphics. Besides, the film also starred a local Christian from my area (not a professional actor), who apparently believed in the project so much that he put up the money to executive-produce it. After all, “We have to support Jerry!” I was told.
So I did. I fell for it again. I “supported Jerry.” I paid money to see The Genesis Code in a theater near me.
It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.
The poor writing was probably the biggest culprit, but the tidy theology, the random locations, the stereotypical characters, the predictable outcome, and the amateur acting by the leads also share blame for making this “Christian” movie, well, lame. Offensive even.
Why do Christians promote this stuff? Do we honestly believe that these movies are examples of good story-telling?
Do we believe such movies are effective evangelism?
Do we sincerely enjoy them, or do we just feel like we should?
In addition to The Genesis Code, I can think of at least three other Christian movies that have made me wince. Am I being overly critical? Am I missing something?
What do you think about lame Christian movies?
22 thoughts on “Lame Christian movies”
What I can’t understand is why the writing is so bad in these movies. No amount of technical skills can make up for lame dialog. I’ve always heard that if you want to be a writer you should read good writing. These people should watch good movies and TV. Something written by Arron Sorkin would be a good start. They probably avoid the good stuff because they consider it ‘worldly’. The same is probably true of ‘worldly’ critique.
I don’t mean to sound harsh but I really would like to see a really good movie with a Christian theme.
I agree, Angus. I find it hard to believe that people would actually consider “Genesis Code” and something like “A Few Good Men” to be equal in terms of quality. When Christians say things like that, it really shows a lack of discernment, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.
I think you get what you pay for. Meaning that there’s not big backing for Christian movies, money is tight, and they make do with what they can afford. If they can’t afford to make a decent Christian movie, then they shouldn’t.
That’s an interesting point, Suzanne. Although, honestly, I don’t know if more money would have made Genesis Code a better movie. Maybe. Sometimes I think the problem is that Christians don’t differentiate between the STORY and the act of STORYTELLING. It’s almost like we think because we have the greatest story in the world, we can skimp on ways to tell that story, as if we don’t need to develop excellence in storytelling skills because “sharing from the heart” will be “good enough.” A lot of times it IS good enough to simply share from the heart, but then we shouldn’t put that kind of sharing in the same category as a “Hollywood-quality” movie.
In some ways I think the hype is to give a generic line like “It’s a Christian Movie” and watch of those bible carrying Christians fill the box office. The problem begins when we as christian do not question what’s being presented from a so called christian perspective. You are not being critical enough… I hope we begin to see how biblical stories are portrayed in an effort to get back to the truth of the matter – God’s Word!
I think the Narnia movies do a nice job of telling a good “Christian” story. I mean, people who know the books and the author will realize that these are “Christian” movies, but they are not packaged and marketed as “Christian movies.” It’s lazy to assume that the way to make a “Christian movie” is to talk about God or angels, and to have the main characters “evangelize” their neighbors. Christianity is usually much grittier and more imperfect than that. It’s about failure and forgiveness and unanswered questions. Those are the kinds of things that “good” movies deal with—real life!
Melanie, my name is Mark VanderWal and I’m a partner with Jerry Zandstra in American Epic Entertainment, LLC. AEE is the production company responsible for the creation of The Genesis Code. I’m sorry you thought The Genesis Code was “the worst movie” you ever saw. We certainly respect your opinion. That said I felt called to answer a couple of your questions directly.
Why do Christians promote this stuff?
Well, believe it or not there’s a solid group of Christians who love TGC and are anxious to help promote it in any way possible. They connected with it, thought the acting was pretty darn good and they actually liked the writing. :)
“Do we believe such movies are effective evangelism?”
Absolutely, without a doubt! I have had several people share with me directly that they were lead back to Christ after watching our film. Most of these people commented that they had never seen the science of the Bible presented in a way that “made sense to them.” I know Jerry and I both feel that if this film reached one person for the kingdom it would be worth all the effort.
“Am I missing something?”
I think if you had any idea the kind of sacrifice people have made to bring this film to the theater you wouldn’t be nearly as critical. That said, we know not everyone is going to like TGC and some like you may even hate it. BUT – rest assured – lives are being changed by this film and other “lame” movies like it. I’ve seen it firsthand.
“Am I being overly critical?”
Maybe – after all everyone has a story to tell. Trying to produce any kind of faith based film is a swim upstream all the way and getting it into a theater is near impossible. We are doing are best to make a difference and give people an alternative to Jackass 3.
Thanks for buying a ticket!
Mark, thanks for stopping by to continue promoting your movie! I appreciate your willingness to respond to my opinions and share your perspective.
I suppose it’s wonderful that a solid group of Christians have connected with The Genesis Code and liked it, but I’m not sure this is confirmation that the movie is an effective evangelism tool. If only Christians like it, that’s not really evangelism. Do you know of anyone outside the Kingdom who was “reached” by the movie? I would be interested in any of those stories you could share.
I do appreciate that it takes a lot of work and money to bring a film to the theater, and that it’s a “swim upstream” when the film is about matters of faith. In fact, I think we Christians need to be MORE critical, MORE discerning, MORE demanding of our art. If your goal is only to be an alternative to Jackass 3, then I suppose you’ve achieved that. I was hoping for something more.
I’m a “non-believer” living in IA who went to see this film with Christian friends. It has changed my perception of the Christian faith and has certainly opened my heart. I can’t say that I’ve converted to Christianity, but this film has warmed me up to the idea. I still have some doubts but I wanted to make sure you knew that this message has reached those otuside of the Christian faith as well.
Hello Puffdaddy, and welcome! Thanks for speaking on behalf of “non-believers”—I’d love to hear more of your story. For example, can you share more about how the movie changed your perception of the Christian faith? That is, what was your perception before, and what is your perception now?And how did your Christian friends invite you to see the movie? Did they urge you to see it because it was “Hollywood-quality,” because it was “Christian,” or because they saw the trailer and thought it was a movie you would enjoy? Is it the kind of movie you would see again? Is it something you would invite other “non-believers” to see?
I realized how seriously science is taken by Christians – I believed that they chose to ignore every issue regarding the beginning of the universe. I had seen the trailer online (I’m a huge movie geek) and in several local online newspapers but didn’t plan on going. My friends invited me so I decided to go and I guess I was pleasantly surprised. I would invite “non-believers” – this is a movie that, at the very least, encourages one to broaden their perspective, whether they like it or not. It sends a very interesting message and, I think, is something at least worth giving consideration.
I guess you can’t really say, since you are a christian, but would you agree/disagree?
I remember being interested in the “scientific explanation” the movie offered, though I’m not able to say whether the science is credible or not. But surrounding that premise, there was just too much forced conversation and too many predictable subplots. I was particularly offended by the girl in the story and the way she “evangelized” the guy—very snarky and arrogant. And the way the scenes were set in random places—the college, the bar, a karaoke bar, a shooting range, the river—just gave me the feeling that they were trying to show off as many recognizable Grand Rapids locales as possible, sort of like forced product placement!
Still, I’m glad you were able to see beyond those distractions and get something worthwhile out of the movie. That’s hopeful.
I agree with this blog! I wish more people would critically judge the spreading of God’s word through online blogs and discourage those who work hard to change lives. Thanks!
No, thank YOU!
If you are interested in other reactions to this blog, check out the comments that people have posted on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mjongsma/posts/132227113547167
Ok, I think I spoke too soon. I just saw a online trailer of this movie and there are known actors portraying the characters. To be honest, I’m not a big movier-goer, but many years ago (can’t even remember the names now), I saw several Christian movies, unknown actors, very bad acting, very bad story. I do have to say, kudos to you for your response to “Mark.” Nicely done.
The “Jerry” I referred to in the blog actually friended me on Facebook, and he participated in the comment conversation that you can see by clicking on the link above, which I thought was very gallant of him.
Attached is the trailer with web site for our new TCT ministries, inc. drama RACE TO THE FINISH http://www.racetothefinishthemovie.com/index.php. Please pass it on through your personal social networking.
Be watching for the study guide that will come with the movie when we go to DVD after a small theater run exclusive at DIPSON THEATERS – February 24, 2012. This will be followed by school, church and public showings and assemblies.
Greg, seriously? Did you even read the post? I mean, I’ll leave your link up there, but only as another example of what I’m talking about, certainly NOT as an endorsement.
Why cant you people just ignore the fact that dont have good quality acting and is predictable and pay some attention to the story line or just not watch these movies at all and stop insulting them because they are trying to make a point not the win a bunch of awards for best actors or best films. These films werent ment for your personal entertainment, they have a purpose that isn’t about money. Pay attention to these things
Chris, can you explain what the “purpose that isn’t about money” is? If there is a clear purpose, then it’s easier to determine if the film is meeting that purpose. Since it was a movie, and many movies are in fact meant for personal entertainment, I didn’t think it was out-of-line for me to expect to be entertained.
But even if entertainment is not the purpose, don’t I still have a right to expect quality acting and quality writing? If the purpose is MORE than entertainment, then the acting and writing should be even BETTER than what Hollywood offers.
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