Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So the axiom seems to still hold true.  Make a movie with football as your central subject and it will not suck.  To my knowledge, and of course most of this is personal opinion, the only crappy football movie that has ever been made was Adam Sandlers’ remake of ‘The Longest Yard’.  And I’m not hating on Adam either ‘cause I loved ‘The Waterboy’.  This leads us to Sony Pictures heavily faith based football flick ‘Facing the Giants’, which, while breaking no new ground with a sports themed movie in anyway, shape, or form, still manages to be a rousingly entertaining film.

Alex Kendrick, who also directed and co-wrote the script, stars as beleaguered head football coach of little Shilo Christian Academy, Grant Taylor.  Grants’ story is a country music song gone wrong since in six years as coach, his team has yet to post a winning season, his best players are transferring every year to bigger schools, the team loses it’s third straight game to the districts weakest team and the schools boosters want him out on his keyster (Note that since this is a Christian based film, I will withhold on my sometimes profanity laced tirades, thus the use of keyster instead of ass. – no need to tell me what a sensitive man I am).    But that’s just his professional life.  Personally Grants’ car works only half the time, his house reeks of some unknown, unseen odor, he’s losing his hair, he can’t impregnate his wife who DESPERATELY wants a child, and because of all of these things, his faith is shaky at best.

After Grant accidentally eaves in on secret meeting between the parent boosters and a trusted assistant coach, he’s just about broken.  As any good Christian should do when

faced with troubles and strife, Grant grabs the Good Book, falls to his knees and prays.  After his session with The Lord, Grant has a new lease on what he should be teaching his team and in an emotional team meeting informs his team that they will no longer be concerned with winning football games, but will now focus on honoring The Lord.  In a nutshell meaning you will play out to the best of the abilities that God has given you.  If the team wins they praise The Lord, and if the team loses, they praise The Lord.  Well wouldn’t you know it, things start to turn around for the Shiloh Eagles as they play like champs in an effort to make to the state finals against bigger, faster, stronger defending state champion Giants.  I wonder what will happen….

Okay, ‘Facing the Giants’ is syrupy, sappy and predictable.  Its faith based message is about as subtle as using sledgehammer to tap in a two inch nail.  The acting was performed by mostly amateur volunteers from the church which help fund this film, and though earnest, leaves a little to be desired.  But dadgummit (that’s southern Christian profanity right there) the movie has so much energy, and such great intentions and has so much sincerity that it just makes you fell good.  ‘Facing the Giants’ literally lifts you up and carries you on this glorious journey it takes, despite the glaring flaws.  Believe me, fifteen minutes into the movie you may ask yourself ‘Are they serious’, but if you let your guard down, you’re finished.  It has you.  The usual side stories are there, the weak boy who signs on to be a kicker even though he’s not very good,  a trusted assistant forced to make a crucial choice, the star player who the coach has to convince to buy into the program and the wise cracking black dude.  But it all comes together quite nicely.  I watched the movie with my wife and 11 year old son, and they absolutely loved it, and the somewhat amateurishness of the production had no effect in the least of their enjoyment of the film.  However, though the movie was a great piece of entertainment there were some AWFUL football logic flaws that I simply must discuss.  The next paragraph has SPOILERS so please skip in you don’t want the story given away.  As if.

So the Eagles get to the big game against the Giants.  The Giants score a touchdown to make the score 20-14 I believe, and for some reason, the Giants coach decides to go for 2.  NO coach would EVER go for two points in that situation EVER.  I understand somehow, someway we have to get to the weak legged field goal kicker, but football wise, and drama wise, it would have made more sense to have the extra point blocked than go for 2.  The game goes on, and the score is now 29-27.  Three points and the Eagles win, got it?  The Giants are on the 2 yard line with little time to play.  They score a TD and the game is over.  The Eagles stop them 4 consecutive times, with the fourth play causing a fumble and a long return, with 2 seconds left, setting up a 51-yard field goal for the weak legged kicker with the father in the wheel chair.  The problem here, and it is MAJOR, is that the Eagles had NO TIME OUTS.  Therefore, the Giants should have just taken a knee and ran out the clock instead of trying to score four straight times.  But no, they didn’t do that and you can figure out what happens next.

That aside, nobody in my family, who knows jack about football even cared.  And quite honestly, neither did I really.  Now if I had watched ‘Facing the Giants’ when it initially hit theaters, around the same time as ‘Gridiron Gang’, I might not have be so high on it since the ‘Gridiron Gang’ is a far superior football movie, and overall movie in my opinion, but I saw this much later and as such enjoyed it immensely.  Kudos to the cast and crew of ‘Facing the Giants’ for their fine film.  Somebody take a knee!

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