Dads are important. And there are right and wrong ways to be one. That message was communicated loud and clear over the weekend by two sets of filmmakers, one in Hollywood, Calif., the other in Albany, Ga. And yet their projects couldn’t be more different.
The hot new disaster flick, 2012, depicts the end of the world in eye-poppingly cataclysmic fashion, aided by a huge budget and gaudy special effects. It also alludes to the devastation wreaked on families when dads aren’t present in the home, become disengaged, or model poor character. The protagonist, played by John Cusack, is estranged from his wife and two young children. But by the end of the film, he heroically reconnects with them, regaining their respect while rescuing them from more than just Armageddon.
He’s not the only onscreen patriarch in need of redemption here. Minor characters, aware that the end is near, try to make peace with their kids long-distance or find themselves making supreme sacrifices. What 2012 fails to explore, however, is why those flawed fathers fell from grace in the first place, or what practical steps a man can take to avoid or repair damaged relationships at home.
That’s where Sherwood Pictures comes in.
Shortly after screening 2012, I hopped a flight to southwest Georgia, where the folks at Sherwood Baptist Church unveiled plans for their next theatrical release, which will probably be produced and distributed for about what 2012 spent on catering. You know Sherwood Pictures. That’s the ministry behind sleeper hits such as Fireproof and Facing the Giants. During a Sunday evening service devoted largely to prayer and worship, director Alex Kendrick (pictured third from the left, along with brother Stephen Kendrick, Jim McBride and Sherwood’s senior pastor Michael Catt) and his creative team introduced the concept for Courageous.
“The movie is about fatherhood,” Kendrick says. “Four fathers in law enforcement go through a terrible tragedy. They begin looking at their commitment to ’protect and serve’ as it relates to their role as fathers, challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers.” Then they start a Bible study and everyone lives happily ever after, right? Not so fast. Just as only some seed found fertile soil in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:1-15), these officers face challenges, and not all will experience lasting change.
Could Courageous do for fatherhood what Fireproof has done for marriages? I sure hope so. So does executive pastor/producer Jim McBride, best known to audiences as fiery football coach Bobby Lee Duke in Facing the Giants. McBride said, “The statistics on fatherless children are devastating. And because the family is the building block of society, one important place to rebuild families is through fathers who stay and lead and love.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped. Courageous begins shooting in the spring of 2010, and is due in theaters sometime in 2011. Which is a good thing. Because if the world really does end in 2012, at least dads who’ve seen Courageous will have had plenty of time to get their houses in order.
What do you think about the unique movie ministry of Sherwood Pictures? If you’re looking forward to Courageous or if you’ve been touched by their previous films, tell us about it!