WAR ROOM; Powerful Preaching–to the Choir *** (less if not a “believer”)

Here’s another well-written and excellently produced faith-based film from the Kendrick Brothers production company (Fireproof, Courageous, et al) that’s made by evangelical Christians specifically for the evangelical Christian audience.  But, as with other genre films like R-rated horror or hard sic-fi, those who aren’t fans will probably find little to like here, and perhaps even something offensive.

And most people in the faith-based audience; evangelical church-goers who avoid mainstream movies because of their overt amorality, violence, and depictions of social issues that are largely offensive to them, are just fine with that.  So is Sony Pictures Entertainment, whose Affirm Films finances projects for the Kendricks, and usually makes a tidy sum because the Kendricks’ Faithstep Films only needs a couple million to produce their movies ($3 M in this case), which then return eye-popping profits as millions of the evangelical faithful flock to multiplexes to see one of “their” films (War Room took in $64 M at the box office for a staggering 2133% return on investment–a $150 M Marvel superhero film would have to gross over $3.2 BILLION at the box office to equal such a profit margin).  And so everybody’s happy–at least if you’re an evangelical Christian, an evangelical Christian filmmaker, or an exec at Sony.

If there is a problem here, it’s that “evangelical” Christians, by definition, are supposed to be out in the world bringing the unchurched to salvation, yet “their” movies would be as incomprehensible and blah-seise to “non-Christians” as a lecture on quantum physics would be to a crowd at a Comic-con.  War Room is no exception, with all its lead and supporting characters being evangelical Christians who, for the most part, at least attempt to walk the walk, and definitely talk the talk, which unfortunately is a lingo that leaves most “unchurched” scratching their heads.  Though well-written and wonderfully acted by an entirely no-name cast, the story is all about believers and their struggles to live out those beliefs, which will thrill the evangelicals, but largely confuse those that they’re supposedly evangelizing.

And, to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that.  There are genre movies and “cult” films for just about every stripe of movie-goer, and why shouldn’t evangelical Christians have theirs, too?

But at times I do wonder why these people, who profess to have a mission to “evangelize” a world they see as lost and in desperate need of their Savior, are so comfortable spending–and making–millions producing movies that not only are solely for their own enjoyment, but largely turn away the very people they profess they want to reach, in the one venue where their message could reach literally millions–if anyone besides evangelical Christians could actually figure out what’s going on.  Is it possible that one day, faith-based, “evangelical” filmmakers might make movies that would actually “evangelize?”