Facing the Giants opens this Friday in 441 theaters, and it’s safe to say that the expected crowds won’t be drawn there because of the independent film’s high production values.
Producer/writer/director/star Alex Kendrick and his brother Stephen did very well with a mere $100,000 total budget, which would just about cover a Steven Spielberg crew’s weekly deli bill.
And it’s really a matter of perspective. The Facing the Giants team ate well, as evidenced by the dozens of names listed under “catering” at the end of the film. We’re talking real, down-home Georgia church folks’ food, lovingly made and delivered.
The film, shot in Albany, Georgia, is about a high school football coach and his wife and how they, their team and their town go through a crisis of faith. To say that viewers tend to be moved by this unassuming flick would be like saying that Chariots of Fire is a nice little film about some runners. It packeth a punch.
Giants got a boost earlier this year when the Motion Picture Association of America gave it a PG rating for “thematic elements,” which turned out to be its overtly Christian Gospel message. After much angst, the MPAA altered its stance, saying that the “thematic elements” are not the Jesus stuff but instead involve a discussion of infertility (which is handled delicately). But the uproar gave the film some priceless publicity for a few weeks, and the PG might attract teens who otherwise wouldn’t be caught dead at a G-rated movie.
Those unfamiliar with the work of the Kendrick brothers and Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, should be forewarned that their films start in a very disarming way, with the viewer wondering why they didn’t spring for maybe another camera or two or some higher-priced talent.
Then the plot takes off with its theme of redemptive faith, reaching new levels until the viewer is swept along. Unless you’re utterly heartless, you’ll be hard-pressed not to like this film, despite its artistic cheapitude, which, for the money, gets remarkable results.
Watching the Kendricks succeed on a shoestring brought to mind the advice that Robert Duvall’s cowboy in the recent made-for-TV Western Broken Trail offers to his nephew, who is worrying aloud about how their profits have slipped in order to rescue several Oriental girls and one American gal from a life of sexual slavery:
“Never measure wealth by how much money you have.”