Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review of Review

First, can we talk about that name? Probably the first Greek word I ever learned was "ichthys," (Dad was an ex-Seminarian who had studied to be a Catholic priest, plus he was a former Catholic schoolboy, so he had Greek and Latin to spare and wasn't stingy with his knowledge) and it's a word I like to roll around on my tongue to this day. So using the ichthys as your logo and naming your company Genius. I love it when the names of companies just make sense! This one, obviously, does. stocks numerous Christian movies to suit every different family. From kid flicks to movies meant for teens and adults, they have something for everyone. My family was fortunate enough to receive Woodlawn, the true story of a desegregating high school football team in the Deep South in the early 1970s, to review. Review

I was excited for my children to watch this movie for a couple of reasons. First, we are currently reading Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patillo Beals, the memoir of one of the Little Rock Nine (the nine teenagers who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, AR in 1957). A film about another integration experience thus fit seamlessly into our curriculum. Plus, I'll confess that overtly "this is a Christian movie" movies don't go over all that well with my kids. It's not that they are not good Christians - they are. Tell them that we are going to watch a documentary on the Vatican and they are all over it. It's just that conflating the movie-watching experience with a Christian-teaching experience is irritating to them (and, I'll confess, to me). Let's just pick one. Let's learn about our faith or watch a movie (one that doesn't conflict with our faith naturally!). This movie seemed like a great choice. While it has an overtly Christian message, it's still a great movie -- and it watches like a great movie!

Although it's hard to believe, desegregation was still not completely accomplished in this country, even into the 1970s. As a one-time aspiring political scientist (Ph.D., 2004) who studied with one of the top Deep South political scientist practitioners in the country (Dr. Earl Black), I know better than many how unbelievably entrenched racism was in this part of the country. What is so hard to explain to my children was so easy for them to see in this movie, though. When Woodlawn High School was finally desegregated in 1973 by, among others, African-American football player Tony Nathan, tensions ran extremely high. It was a huge challenge for the football team not only to play with black football players, but to accept that some of them were the equal and better of the white players. That realization challenged the absolute core of deeply held white beliefs of racial supremacy.

It takes the intervention of the Colonel's chaplain sharing his conversion story to turn the team away from their long-held and deeply rooted suspicions of each other to the unity that leads to their true integration as a team. Actually, what happens is so much more dramatic (although played out on such a subtle level) that you really do have to watch it to believe it!

What saves Woodlawn from being another schlocky Christian message movie is two things: first, the setting is high school football in the South. Even if you don't live here (and I do), you must have seen enough about it on TV and in movies to realize what a unifying (almost mystical) thing that is. Second, the cast is mainstream and top-notch (which probably has much to do with production value also being mainstream and top-notch). Sean Astin, Sherri Shepherd, Jon Voight, and C. Thomas Howell all star in this movie. Honestly, it's probably one I would have chosen myself on Netflix. has so many Christian movies from which to choose that if high school football isn't your thing, you're sure to find something that is! 99 other Crew members reviewed Woodlawn and nine other films, so be sure to click the banner below to read all of the reviews!

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