2017-04-20 / Entertainment

‘The Shack’ is not your typical faith-based drama

I have friends who have an automatic bias against “Christian” movies. These are the films written and directed and produced, to a large extent, to save all of our souls and to enlighten, uplift and re-assure, specifically, the Born-Again Christians everywhere that they are on the true path of righteousness and they can feel secure in their belief that they will live forever in heaven with God.

Admittedly, often these movies (films like “God’s Not Dead,” “Miracles from Heaven,” “Risen,” the “Left Behind” series) are heavy handed, overly sentimental and lacking in some of the most basic expected skills for dialogue writing and acting.

Over the last few years, I have seen some pretty objectively terrible faith-based movies. The filmmakers frequently can get the money to make these movies because they sadly, cynically believe they have a built-in audience. They are, unfortunately, probably quite right in this belief. Busloads of people in the Bible Belt, from Baptist and nondenominational Christian churches, make field trips to see the latest installment in the “God’s Not Dead” series (which, by the way, I personally, particularly enjoy) or whatever their pastor knows will be “safe” and Godly” for their flock.

And here we have “The Shack,” a movie that most mainstream critics found distasteful and trite and insultingly simplistic. And I completely see their point. However, I must say, I fully bought into it. I cried three times and found its stupid cheesiness unintentionally very funny and oddly charming. God is a black older woman? Cool. And he/she/it really likes Neil Young? That’s ridiculous. And hysterical. But somehow beautiful.

“The Shack” is about a man named Mack, played by “Avatar’s” Sam Worthington, coping with the very ugly murder of his young daughter, which causes him to pretty much leave his former churchgoing ways behind. He becomes bitter and lost, which is understandable. How could a loving God let this horror happen to him and his family? They are good, loving people.

And then, Mr. Mack goes to the shack and he meets God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit as three people he can see and touch and talk to. Our man Mack finds his way back. Back to the Lord and back to his church.

And that’s about it. This is yet another case where you probably know before this movie starts if you are gonna love it or hate it. I personally, actually, liked it quite a bit (and by the way, Octavia Spencer is very good as God – right up there with Morgan Freeman in “Bruce Almighty”).

“The Shack” is now playing in theatres everywhere.

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