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John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

In the 2008 film "Fireproof," Sherwood Pictures—the Albany, Ga., church-based studio that also made the 2006 sports drama "Facing the Giants"—celebrated scripturally guided marital fidelity.

With its latest production, "Courageous" (TriStar), they turn their attention to the important social influence wielded, either for good or ill, by fathers.

They do so via a drama tracing the personal and professional life of devoutly Christian police officer Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick). After the tragic death of his young daughter, Adam is left pondering the quality of parenting he offered her during her all-too-brief life, and regretting missed opportunities to demonstrate his love for her.

Determined to be more than just a "good enough" father to his remaining child, teen son Dylan (Rusty Martin Jr.), Adam draws up a Bible-based resolution by which to dedicate himself to the highest standards of paternal conduct.

He then convinces four friends—three of them, Nathan (Ken Bevel), Shane (Kevin Downes) and David (Ben Davies), colleagues from the force, the last, Javier (Robert Amaya), a Hispanic construction worker he recently hired—to join him in a public recitation of the resolution. But a variety of circumstances, including a couple of illustrative moral quandaries, quickly put each dad's resolve to the test.

Though sometimes heavy-handed, Kendrick, who also directed and co-wrote (with his brother, Stephen Kendrick), crafts an uplifting message movie about the dire consequences of paternal neglect and the Christian principles of sound parenting.

Occasional lapses into preachiness—the final scene centers on an extended speech from a pulpit, no less—are offset by lively action scenes pitting Adam and his fellow patrolmen against a local gang.

Catholic viewers may be saddened to observe that Javier and his family have apparently abandoned the religious heritage of Catholicism in favor of worship in the evangelical mold.

But the ideals on offer, if sometimes seemingly pursued to an extreme—as in the case of Nathan's refusal to let his daughter date until she turns 17, after which he will need to approve each of her beaux—will nonetheless resonate with, and perhaps inspire, audiences from a wide range of Judeo-Christian backgrounds.

The film contains some gun violence and mature themes, including drug trafficking. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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