Cast: Alex Kendrick, Shari Rigby, Priscilla Shirer, Cameron Arnett
Director: Alex Kendrick
Well, it’s time for our monthly random religious movie that has no budget but makes a ton of money. In the case of Overcomer it’s in a strange spot because it is completely generic to the point where it can be enjoyed or ignored by everyone regardless of their religious affiliation. Sure the storyline is simplistic and we’ve seen the religious elements done in almost every similar religious movie, but when you put in the sports element, Overcomer gets past its issues and provides a very average 115 minute movie-going experience.
The film follows John Harrison (Kendrick), the basketball coach at Brookshire Christian School. When a local manufacturing plant closes causing many families to move away, John is forced to coach a cross-country program with only one athlete; Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson), an orphan with asthma being raised by her grandmother. Through this difficult time in everyone’s lives, John reflects on his situation and his relationship with God and how those two are related. The main issue with Overcomer is maybe the opposite issue from every other religious movie in that this movie has way too many things going on to ever develop a real thesis to work off of. Whether this the collapsing economy of their town, the marital problems between John and his wife Amy (Rigby), Hannah and her issues at home, John and his reluctance to coach cross-country, or the failing health of Thomas Hill (Arnett), this movie has too much going on for a 115 minute movie and you feel the length of it towards the end. When you add the religious tone to all of these issues, you get another storyline that takes up a significant period of time in this movie. While this is a problem for Overcomer, this is the best type of problem it can have as most competing movies are either shallow or insulting to the non-religious audience, and that’s never really the case here. Sure it panders like the other movies, but it doesn’t go to the lengths of other more faith-based movies. The redemption arc that most of these characters have enhances the story by creating real people who are neither good nor evil, but flawed like the rest of us. The acting is right where it needs to be, not particularly spectacular but never bad enough to distract us, and the sports element expands its potential audience to those outside the spectrum of typical faith-based viewers. It’s certainly not Rudy, but at the same time it never tries to be this spectacular sports movie. If the plot was just a little more focused on a couple of the stories instead of the multiple angles the plot took on, then realistically Overcomer could have been a legitimately good movie. That being said, Overcomer may be one of the best religious movies I’ve seen since I started writing here, and considering my general attitude towards most of these movies, that’s saying something. Some of these issues come with the generally low production value, so I can’t blame all of the issues on what we ended up seeing, but the end result of Overcomer is something completely average and for the most part enjoyable.
Overall, after I saw the first trailer for Overcomer, I had no idea what the movie was about. With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised that the end result was something enjoyable regardless of the obviously religious tone of the movie. Maybe I’m just a sucker for sports movies, but Overcomer hurdles over the stigma usually associated with these types of movies and establishes itself as an independent and moving film.
Overall Score: 5/10