All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


The War Room

The Kendrick brothers made a movie.  I don't know much about these brothers other than they were approached specifically to make a "Christian" movie for major distribution.  "The War Room" was the result of their efforts.

I've read some reviews about the movie and they seem to fall into two camps.  The church goer camp is willing to praise the effort simply because its a "Christian" effort.  That's all well and good.  After all you can't complain about the horrible state of American entertainment and not be willing to go out and support your own side when they make an effort to produce something family friendly.  The Hollywood establishment is not as kind.  Surprisingly (or maybe not) they seem to be more upset about the message than the moviemaking itself.

I'm decidedly of two minds about "The War Room".

If you evaluate the movie as a form of narrative sermon (as most Christian reviewers seem to) it is excellent.  A sermon should have a message, a memorable narrative, and an agenda for the hearer to take action on.  "The War Room" excels as a narrative sermon.

The Kendrick boys decided that a 2 x 4 was inadequate for their needs and opted for a 8 inch wrought iron post.  Then they went in swinging, hard.  Christians (writer of this blog in particular) need a good old fashioned "come to Jesus" message, delivered right upside the ole noggin. "The War Room" does just that. 

If you are a Christian, go see the movie.  Chances are, you need to hear the message.  You should financially support those trying to do the right thing in Hollywood.  Think of the ticket price as less than what you normally put in the collection plate.  Plus you can get popcorn and cokes.  We don't have that at my church.  Then again I don't go to one of those hip new culturally relevant churches, so maybe you have that every week.

As a movie I have a different take on "The War Room".

The Hollywood cheerleader types seemed focused on not liking the message of the movie.  This seems odd (unless you take into consideration their rampant anti-Christian prejudices).  "The War Room" is utterly lacking in technical cinematic merit.

The camera work wasn't very good.  The first part of the movie had a scene with a lot of "jumping" of the camera.  This might have been a reel operators error in our theater, but I doubt it.  Seriously guys you should have caught this in editing and reshot the scene.  I know the budget was tight, but then again it was in the first 5 min of the movie, not a good way to open the show. 

Throughout the movie  the camera work was weak.  I know overhead cranes cost money but a couple of well done aerial overview zoom ins (like when the company came to reposes his car) and some more low/high tilt work, would go along way to improve your story telling.  Dialog isn't the only thing communicating a message in a film.

For example, one way the camera could have been employed to improve the story would have been to use long distance overhead shots to communicate space during the initial periods in the closet.  Then zooming down and in to a convey an intimate environment as Elizabeth gets more serious about her faith and her praying.

When it comes to the story and plot there needed to be some improvements.  If Tony might go to jail for illegally selling drugs, perhaps it would make sense to establish that he was selling drugs illegally BEFORE you introduce that as a crises point in the story line.  Just a scene or two, maybe at the gym, with him peddling a couple of packets to "friends" to "help" them out would work.

Apparently neither one of the Kendrick boys have ever been married.  I base this statement on the one dimensional nature of Tony and Elizabeth's marriage.  I'll sum it up as "husband bad, wife good".  Common guys.  Who do you think wanted the extra fancy house?  Do you believe Tony forced that on his real-estate agent wife?  Tony drives the big black SUV and Elizabeth has the environmentally friendly hybrid.  You could have used a flashback scene to communicate how Elizabeth's desire for the good life was part of Tony's motivation to get ahead at all costs.

Marriage and marriage problems don't happen in a vacuum.  Both people contribute to the success and failure of their relationships.  It's not all one sided.

In an effort to introduce Tony's near infidelity you almost (probably by accident) made a great point.  I said almost.  When Elizabeth tells MS Clara, "if Tony isn't getting it from me, he must be getting it somewhere", you could have rendered great service to Christian marriage everywhere, but you failed miserably. MS Clara could have said any number of things to rebuke or instruct Elizabeth on this topic.  Indicating that a women who is being sexually unfaithful to her husband by withholding sex, might in some small way be responsible for some of the stress in her marriage, wasn't on your agenda.  Again, "husband bad, wife good" even when wife bad, we don't care, "husband bad, wife good".

On a related note, had Elizabeth greeted Tony when he returned from his business trip with a wink and the suggestion that Danielle was spending the night at the family's only white friends house so they could enjoy some "alone time", would have made Tony look like a bigger jerk.  It also would have make the reconciliation scene more powerful.  You don't have to show it, a cut away and roll over (more of that fancy camera stuff) would have told the story without being inappropriate.

There are a number of other nit picks I have about the film, like the church scene, and the cameos.  Guys if you are going to employ Hitchcock like appearances in your own films, fine.  Do it in line with your acting abilities.  Stick with roles like toll both operator, or unnamed guy on park bench.

If it sounds like I'm being too hard or critical about this film, I'm not.  I like the film.  You should go see it.  This is the third time the Kendrick boys have made a full length Christian themed movie and it's worth your time and money to go see.  What I would like to see in the future is them putting as much effort into the art of movie making as into advancing the message in their movie making.

The much Hollywood hated Mel Gibson made "The Passion".  Even those who hate the message of the film cannot argue with the quality of the work or the artistic value of the finished product.  The message was strong, the medium in which it was communicated was equally compelling.  That is my expectation of all so called Christian film making.  If you are producing a narrative sermon, that's fine, I guess.  If you are making movies with a message do it right.

Make good movies, at profit if you can, at a loss if you must; but make good movies.


  1. husband bad, wife good=every kendrick bros movie to date.

    1. I haven't seen them all so I can't say.


      What if they had MS Clara tear Elizabeth a new one for withholding sex from her husband? They could have done it in a very female friendly way with soft hearted dialog.

      I think that they would have gained an incredible amount of creditability with male and female audience members. Same thing with showing her as at least partially responsible for the family focus on material things at the expense of relationship. I'm married and have house shopped with a wife. I also have written a lot of mortgages as a banker. I know who makes the purchasing decision when it comes to buying a house. I know what real-estate agents are like too. You gotta know that a women with that nice of a house isn't above pushing her man to make it happen.

  2. Susan7:29 PM

    You probably picked the same nits that I would have if I was reviewing the movie.
    I don't like Hubby bad, Wife good scenarios. Having been married now for almost 39 years come next March, I can attest that it takes TWO to tango. It also takes two to want to fix it too.

    I also don't like the first 15 minutes usually, because they treat Christians like they are some kind of crazy aunt/uncle in the attic. Kind of like a "we have decided to think its cute and we tolerate it". Once you get past that, like in God is Not Dead, the movie delivers some boffo messages.

    Have you seen God is not Dead yet? Seriously, that movie is so well done once you get past that first 10 minutes or so.

    Kevin Sorbo is really doing God's work in these movies. I was surprised how much I liked Dean Cain's role in this movie too. If you haven't seen it yet, it is on Netflix streaming and would be well worth the viewing for a church gathering.

    The scene where Cain talks to his dementia suffering mom will send chills up and down your spine it is so realistic.

    1. Yes I saw it. There were some parts that were very well done. There were some other parts that were fairly weak. Overall it was a good film.

      I agree their movies tend to start off a little lame but improve as you get into them. Which is too bad because every part of a movie should make you want to watch the next part as you get drawn into the story.

  3. I realize my post is more of a reaction than a review. That said, there are lots of places out there where you can get a good synopsis of the movie.

    My main gripe is that for hundreds of years the best, art music and science was produced by Christians, largely for Christians. The quality of the painting on the Sistine Chapel was artistically excellent. The music written by Bach, Handel etc certainly didn't suffer any because it was Christian in theme, intent or audience.

    You might not like paintings or classical music, but you can't argue that the quality was poor because it was done by Christians. The best scientific and most ground breaking minds were largely Christian. No serious student of science attacks Bacon, Ockham, Copernicus, Newton's etc work because of their faith. Because they all did good work.

    I want to see artistically good work when I see a film. I'm not into "art house" stuff. I'm talking about good stories, well told using film as an artistic media.

    I'm willing to make allowances for the fact that many Christians might not get as much industry experience and that a lack of experience may play a role in the initial quality of the work. BUT the quality of the film making should improve as they do more projects. This is the Kendrick's third feature film and I can't say the quality of the work product is making much progress.

    The quality of the marketing and add on products is phenomenal. They have ready made bible study class materials that tie into the movie already out and available. That part was clearly thought out ahead of time. Too bad they didn't put as much effort into telling the story.


    He has similar breakdowns of Courageous, and Moms night out.

    1. You're 100% on target with what you said in that first comment. Part of me knows this stuff goes on but another part tries to avoid engaging the subject. We've gone so far that even the so called church is pushing Satan's narrative.

  5. What's worse, I think: When I watched the movies I noticed some of these things in passing. But they didn't stick in my mind. I would have bought it if hadn't been pointed out to me afterward. These movies were bragged up in my church.

    The lesson of Fireproof: Men must submit to their wives, and a good way to make it happen is threaten divorce. Rationalize it because of his sin, ignore hers.

    The lesson of Courageous: No matter how good a father he is, he isn't good enough. He should listen to his wife, she knows better. He is totally responsible for the outcome, but has no real authority to make it happen. But if he will just sacrifice a little more....

    The lesson of Moms night out: Father's are incompetent boobs. Moms are super badass important. Bad boy bikers are really interesting. Somehow this is funny.

    Or, simpler, Husband=bad, Wife=good.

  6. The church is so culturally compromised that we don't even recognize that "Christian entertainment" is advancing the same narrative as the world, just at a different pace and with less dazzle.

  7. Eh, yet another Christian Ghetto piece. Made by Christians for Christians. At least it's doing well at the box office.

    You want to see a culture-changing movie, watch Knocked Up (caution, it earned it's rating the hard way, on it's back)