Tuesday, September 22, 2015

War Room--a Writers Look at a Box Office Hit

As with many box office hits, it appears viewers either love or hate the movie War Room. You've probably read the reviews. Maybe you've even seen the movie, and chances are, you either left shouting it's praises or grumbling, wondering how it has done so well. 

I have some thoughts on this, and what our response, as Christians, should be to the movie and others like it. 

I'm not a movie goer, but so many of my friends, including many in the writing industry, recommended I go, so I did. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to like it--I'd read some harsh articles about the movie. But my husband absolutely loves going to the theater, and I was curious, plus I like supporting the Christian arts. So, we went. 

And I cried. A few times. Although there were also times when I could've easily walked away. 

Before I get too far, I feel it's important to note who
photo by Chrisko 1960 taken from pixabay.com
the target audience was for War Room. I've read numerous articles bashing the movie for having an overt, heavy-handed Christian theme. Well, yeah. This movie was made for Christians--largely married Christians. More specifically, married Christians who are struggling in their marriage. And that's perfectly OK. Better than OK, really. It was highly effective. Christians make up a large segment of the population, and many of them are looking for clean, inspiring films that will draw them closer to Christ. 

In that aspect, War Room was a huge success. In other words, the writers and producers of War Room knew their audience, and their audience was not the general public, which means, it shouldn't surprise us when secular reviewers hated the film. 

This movie also touched on some universal felt needs. For women, it targeted our need to feel cherished; for men, it targeted their need to feel respected. For everyone, it demonstrated hope in the middle of chaos and destruction and highlighted the truth that God can indeed turn all things, even crumbling marriages, to good if we'd but turn to Him, rely on Him, and surrender to His leading. 

The movie also revealed a powerful truth clearly presented in Scripture:

James 5:13-16 (NLT)

"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." 

In this aspect, the movie was incredibly effective. I left the theater determined to be more consistent with my prayer life and also to actively pursue a mentorship relationship with another woman in my church. 

So, basically, regardless of how I felt about the plot or execution of the movie, it initiated life change. For many. I don't know how many people have seen the movie, but I do know it made millions.  

So now to the critics (or should I say, the evangelical critics)... You'll notice I didn't share what I didn't like about the movie, and there's a reason for that. "Who are you to condemn someone else's servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord's help, they will stand and receive his approval" (Romans 14:4 NLT). 

That's not to say I don't believe in critical feedback. I'm a critique partner junkie and author who gets excited whenever those pages of big picture changes come in from my editor. I'm also an editor who loves working with authors to help them make their work better.  

But God didn't assign me the job of coming alongside the War Room writers and producers. (I'm not even a screen writer! Surprise, right?) I'm confident He gave someone else that role. And my criticizing the film won't help it do any better or further whatever God is doing through the movie.  Nor will my criticizing the film encourage aspiring writers to pursue a career in the film industry. Likely, it would have the opposite effect.

Last Sunday, our pastor gave an analogy that applies here. One day while at the gym, someone approached him and told him he was exercising wrong and that if he really wanted to see results, he'd try another piece of equipment. This "helpful" advice utterly defeated him, and he went home, giving up his efforts entirely. (You can listen to the entire sermon HERE. You can read an article I wrote that touches on this subject HERE.)

I've found people excel most through praise and encouragement, and if we want to see more talent in the film industry, we need to quit bashing the efforts of those who truly poured their heart and best into a production and instead uplift them. And support them with our money, because we can't expect a million dollar film from a low-budget production.

And on an ending note, isn't it exciting to see Christian films in our theaters? I remember when we lived in Louisiana and the movie John hit the theaters. Everyone was so excited a Christian movie had broken in to the box offices! Then came Veggie Tales, then the Passion of the Christ.

God is doing a great work; He's reaching millions of people with His message, and that's awesome.

Pretty miraculous, really, when you think about it.

What about you? Have you seen War Room? If so what were your thoughts? What'd you walk away with? Before you go, I've got news! Intertwined is now available in ebook form and will release in print form on October. HERE) You can preorder the novel HERE.) You can read a free, 3-chapter HERE You can get your e-copy HERE!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVED War Room! I mean - the actors weren't "fabulous", and the dialogue at times seemed stilted, but the message and that older woman praying for a young woman to mentor, and her prayers! I loved her prayers. At the end when she prayed, I had to get out of my seat. I raised my hands --and my face-- to Heaven and stood there praising God for the longest. The lady had quit praying, but by then, I was before the throne. Half the movie goers had filed out and the credit were over when I came back to earth :) What moved me most was His Word and His purpose being accomplished in a Cinemark! I had 'church' there in His presence! :)