God’s Not Dead and the Cheese Factor

I saw the movie God’s Not Dead this past weekend and really enjoyed the film.  The story centered on a college freshman, Josh Wheaton, played by little-known actor, Shane Harper, who finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by a rigid, atheist Professor played by Kevin Sorbo. The Professor instructs students they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God or face a failing grade.  As a devout Christian Josh finds himself torn between his faith and his future. If Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage the Professor in a debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and very likely, destroy his college career and his future hopes for law school.

Kevin Sorbo, formerly of the television series Hercules fame in the late 1990s did a fair job as the belligerent professor.  The young actor who played Josh did a decent job of acting and was a rather likable, endearing sort of guy. The many sub-plots seemed confusing at times, but eventually all tied in at the end of the film. Unfortunately, I found most of the acting in this movie a bit stiff and a little heavy-handed on what I call “The Cheese Factor.”

Typically most Christian movies come off as being very cheesy and corny to me and this movie had plenty of cheese and corn. I was willing to overlook that aspect though because I strongly support faith-based movies and believe we need more inspirational messages like the one depicted in this film.

Message aside – there’s no denying that Christian movies have a tough time competing with mainstream films at the box office. I’m not sure whether it’s the simple fact that the producers of these films don’t have the big budgets to hire big name actors and directors or whether it’s the way the movies are actually filmed.

While Christian movies in general are improving overall over time, there is a huge difference in the quality of Christian movies produced today and mainstream films. The inspirational messages are great and much needed in our decadent society – but the quality of the Christian films being produced do not have the same box-office draw as a big budget Hollywood produced movie.

The recently released movie, Noah was a big budget movie that spent millions of dollars on marketing and advertising. That advertising drew in unsuspecting movie goers, luring them into thinking they were going to get a film adaptation of a classic Bible tale. The film however, failed to deliver and duped movie goers into spending our hard-earned money on what was in reality a science fiction account loosely based on an Old Testament Bible story.

And yes, while I admit that God’s Not Dead had a great message, it also had its fair share of cheesy acting, corny dialogue and ineffective camera angles.  But I say kudos to the production company and the actors, because even though they may not be as talented, skilled or compensated as well as a major Hollywood production team, these people are living the dream and spreading the gospel through the magic of movies.

Bottom line — there is no discounting the fact that the theater was packed. If the sporadic applause peppered throughout the movie from the audience is any indication of the likability of the film – we as paying Christian movie goers would like more cheese and corn in our mainstream films.  Well – maybe not cheese and corn per se – just quality movies without all the sexual innuendo and four-letter words.

Watching row after row of young people exit the theater at the movie’s conclusion was a sure indicator that young movie goers are hungry for more faith-based movies – to which we should all be saying to Hollywood: less porn – more corn please!

I give this movie an A for effort and for its timely message for hungry young people.