"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Cure to Hate and Injustice"
What You Need To Know:
(BBB, CCC, V, M) Very strong Biblical and Christian worldview extolling faith, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the Gospel’s power to transform lives, multiple scenes in churches with preaching, a baptism, prayers at football games and mentions of Jesus being the “one way” to God; no foul language, young teenager vomits; some small threats of violence, football violence with light injuries, footage of a riot aftermath with burning vehicles, real footage of racial injustice, a brick is thrown through a window maliciously; light kissing; no nudity; no alcohol; no drug use; racism throughout, but always shown as evil.
WOODLAWN is a faith-based football drama centered around Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama integrating whites and African-Americans in the early 1970’s. Football Coach Tandy Gerelds is forced to include African-American young men on his football team, which causes an uproar among the community, resulting in many white families leaving. Tandy is committed to the schools and stays, one of those young men, Tony Nathan, is very fast and shows promise as a wide-receiver and running back. However, because of his skin color, he still faces discrimination, especially by the other players.
Coach Tandy also receives pressure not to put the African-American players in the game. When Hank (Sean Astin), a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes convinces Coach Tandy to let him speak to the football team, a revival begins at the public school and nearly every football player and the assistant coach gives their life over to Christ. The team is transformed by love and finds unity. This evidence moves Coach Tandy so much, that he too surrenders to Christ and converts. As the team begins to play like an actual team, they begin to win, and Tony is eyed by Alabama University’s legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant (Jon Voight).
WOODLAWN is a wonderful homage to the Erwin brother’s father and his being used by God to spark a revival in Birmingham. It has some tremendous scenes reminiscent of other great movies. It looks like a big budget Hollywood movie and has a message that is both relevant and needed. The acting is solid, especially that of Nic Bishop who plays Coach Tandy and Caleb Castille as Tony. That said, the movie does suffer from having too many plots in the second half and the goal isn’t effectively set up. It’s too much of a TV biopic and less of a traditional movie. Some scenes could have been trimmed. Other-wise, the Erwin brothers are to be commended for some fantastic scenes, great camera-work and good direction. This is their best attempt at filmmaking to date.
The movie is full of strong Christian moments, and has potential to reach many people with the Gospel. The issue of racial reconciliation, forgiveness and overcoming hate with love are incredibly important for this nation. The desire for a revival is palpable in WOODLAWN. Most impressive is how genuine the faith is portrayed. The movie is nearly void of cheesy lines delivered by inexperienced actors, something that has plagued Christian movies for many years. Jon and Andy Erwin have definitely brought together a good cast that holds the movie and delivers the weight of the message with ease and urgency. Many people will have their hearts moved. Ultimately, while WOODLAWN has some flaws in its structure, holding it back, it’s inspiring entertainment for the whole family. Thankfully, WOODLAWN has no offensive material.
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