GLORY ROAD (A-2, PG): In the mid-1960s, Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) was hired by Texas
Western College to coach the Division I men’s basketball team. The school (renamed the
University of Texas at El Paso in 1967) had no African-American players until Haskins and
his assistant, Moe (Evan Jones), recruited seven young men who had played in inner-city
The team faced tremendous obstacles in the racially charged era when almost all college
basketball teams were white. They were spat upon and received death threats. Haskins had
to mold his men into a team and make them get passing grades to keep their scholarships.
The Texas Western Miners made it to the NCAA finals in 1966, with 27 wins and one loss.
The team was up against the Kentucky Wildcats, also at 27-1, coached by the famous Adolph
Rupp (Jon Voight).
The night before the game, perhaps smarting from being disrespected by the legendary Rupp
at a press conference and influenced by the civil-rights movement, Haskins made the now
historic decision to put only African Americans in the starting lineup. They played the
entire game and won.
Glory Road is not your typical feel-good sports movie. It looks back to a real
moment in our country’s history, says producer Jerry Bruckheimer, when
“sports did more for civil rights than any march.” Within three weeks of the historic win
by the Miners, every college and university in the United States with a basketball team
began recruiting African-American players.
Some fans of Adolph Rupp feared the film would portray him as a racist, which isn’t true.
If anything, Rupp was just not impressed by Haskins, who previously coached a girls’ high
school basketball team. Both Rupp and Haskins wanted to win.
Glory Road is gritty, like the West Texas terrain surrounding El Paso and the civil
unrest of the 1960s. According to the screenwriters, the film is 80-percent factual and
100-percent true. Be sure to stay for the credits to find out what happened to the team;
you already know what happened to college and professional basketball. Inspiring film
with humor, courage, determination and kindness.
NANNY McPHEE (A-2, PG): Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) is a frustrated British widower
whose seven mischievous children get rid of every nanny he hires. Led by the eldest, Simon
(Thomas Sangster), the children torment the cook, Mrs. Blatherwick (Imelda Staunton), but
tolerate the scullery maid, Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald), who loves them.
After Cedric learns from the agency that there are no more nannies, a ragtag woman with
warts on her face and a prominent buck tooth appears as if by magic. She is Nanny McPhee
Nanny McPhee is no Mary Poppins: She doesn’t sing and dance, or wave away all the work.
The new nanny announces that she has five rules for the children to learn. (Pay attention
to these rules.) She informs them that when they need her but don’t want her, she will
be there; but when they want her but don’t need her, she will be gone.
In addition to the ongoing nanny problem, Cedric has to find a new wife soon or risk losing
the financial support of his late wife’s Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury).
This fairy tale is based on the Nurse Matilda children’s books by Christianna Brand. The
screenplay is by Emma Thompson, who has won Academy Awards for acting (Howard’s End)
and writing (Sense and Sensibility).
This film shows strong women who nurture children. But the story goes beyond the old-fashioned
be-good-or-else style to teach other lessons that will serve the children, as well as their
father. Fun though predictable film for children and adults who like to indulge their
imaginations once in a while.
END OF THE SPEAR (A-3, PG-13): In the 1950s five Protestant families go to Ecuador
to be missionaries. One of the men, Nate Saint (Chad Allen, of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman),
flies the plane that delivers supplies to the other missionary families. His son, Steve
(Chase Ellison), worries about him.
One indigenous tribe called the Waodani is on the brink of destruction because they kill
off one another when they have a disagreement; six out of 10 die from homicide. When the
Shell Corporation tries to drill for oil on their land, the Waodani attack. Then the government
threatens to wipe out the Wao people.
Nate and some of the other men try to convince the Wao to stop the killing in order to
save their own lives. Although the encounter goes well at first, these missionaries are
speared by some of the Waodani people.
The remarkable thing about this story is the response of the wives of the men who were
killed. Eventually, all of the wives stay among the Waodani for some period of time, giving
and living forgiveness. The women, with the help of Dayumae (Christina Souza), who fled
the tribe as a young girl, tell the story of Jesus in a way the people can understand.
End of the Spear is based on a true story, but it telescopes events that took place
over several years. It tries to speak from the perspective of the Wao, even though it focuses
on Steve Saint. This feature film should be seen along with the powerful 2005 documentary Beyond
the Gates of Splendor, which gives voice to the women who forgave the Waodani: This
is where the miracle of this whole tale lies.
Even though it doesn’t try to, End of the Spear evangelizes the audience. Be sure
to stay through the credits for an update. If you are engaged in evangelization, be
sure to see this beautifully filmed movie because it offers so much to talk about: development
of peoples, religious freedom, evangelizing in other cultures, reconciliation, globalization
THE BOOK OF DANIEL (NBC): Aidan Quinn played Father Daniel Webster, an Episcopalian
pastor, in what was supposed to be a comedy series. Daniel was hooked on Vicodin, his wife
imbibed, one son was gay, the other slept around and his daughter was busted for selling
pot. In addition, Daniel’s father (James Rebhorn), a bishop, was having an adulterous affair
with another bishop (Ellen Burstyn).
This series lasted only a few weeks. It featured dysfunctional people we never cared
about because they were boring. In fact, Daniel’s Jesus was so mild that he didn’t make
a difference to any of the characters or to us. There was no dramatic conflict. Drama only
works when there are contrasting characters who struggle over their values, wants and needs;
comedy works when it surprises us.
In this postmodern era, there is no distinction between the person and his or her behavior. The
Book of Daniel was a thoroughly postmodern TV show. The producers fabricated a Jesus,
a religion and a pastor who accepted people, their lifestyles and their sins without
demanding anything from them, such as change, repentance, restitution—all of which result
Jesus loves dysfunctional, flawed people; he loves sinners and saints. But he challenges
all of us who follow him to try to live by his teaching and example, to change and be transformed
into his image and likeness with the help of his grace.
In The Book of Daniel, everything was O.K.; universal acceptance was the only issue.
To keep ringing the same bell every week was a death knell that meant the show was going