Cast: Tanner Stine, Evan Hofer, Kristoffer Polaha, Kelsey Reinhardt
Director: Chris Dowling
As a graduate of the University of Florida, this movie can be reviewed in two words. Tim Tebow.
Overall Score: 10/…
Ok, ok, ok, I’ll actually give it a full review. As some of you may know based on my previous reviews, I’m not huge on religious movies because they tend to pander to their audience and the acting and writing are typically below average. With Run the Race, these problems are still very present, but the heaviness with which the environment of this movie exists in helps make Run the Race feel a little more realistic and important than films within the faith-based genre.
The film follows Zach (Stine) and Dave (Hofer), two brothers who play football with the goal of one day getting a scholarship to play at the University of Florida and leaving their town behind. After injuries end both of their football seasons, the two brothers must face the reality of their situations, the events leading up to this point, and how their faith plays a role in all of it. For the most part this film has the same struggles that other religious films have. The acting at times is very tough to watch, with Stine in particular having almost zero chemistry with his romantic interest Ginger (Reinhardt). His acting gets better towards the end as his character gains a little more depth, but this is what happens when you cast younger, less experienced actors with a director that doesn’t have a whole lot of movie credits to his name, but there were moments that showed true promise. Any scene with Coach Hailey (Mykelti Williamson) felt genuine and real, so good on him to keep his scenes grounded and honest. Outside of the acting, the film absolutely panders to those with the same religious beliefs as the people behind it. Much of this movie revolves the struggles of these two brothers, but it makes it seem like religion is really the only solution for them to get out of their situation. It follows nearly the exact same formula as every other faith-based movie where the main characters struggle, have their moment of clarity, and get the ending they desire. The one thing that separates this film from the rest in the genre is that this movie feels much darker than the others. The tragedies that keep happening to these kids just never seem to end and right when you think something will go right, something worse happens. It’s just an endless string of pain and suffering for these two boys, but that helps drive the message across and make it feel realistic within the world that this movie creates. Outside of the dark themes, this film may be one of the lone religious movies that presents a real argument as for why someone is confused about their faith. After seeing everything that Zach went through, it’s completely understandable that he would turn away from his faith and the film showed that this is a very reasonable response to tragedy and for the most part the characters seemed respectful of his struggles. This is one of the redeeming factors of the movie, as even though it absolutely panders to its religious audience, it also managed to show respect to those who don’t have the same mindset. This is a rarity in this genre and a pleasant surprise that makes this film much better than what I am used to.
Overall, regardless if parts of this movie just seem like an advertisement for my alma mater, Run the Race is a perfectly fine movie and a good addition to the faith-based genre. Any opportunity to take a step in the right direction for faith-based movies is a huge plus, and as sports movie, it feels just like a B-level version of something like Friday Night Lights, which in the context of the movie is fine. For the most part, this movie accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is really all we can ask for.
Overall Score: 5/10