say “Happy Festivus” to Mayor Bob Revere.
He is sick and tired of substituting the word “holiday” for Christmas
and he is going to do something about it.
In the process, he just might heal his family in Darrell Campbell &
Kevin McAfee’s Last Ounce of Courage (trailer here), which opens
years ago, Tom Revere willingly enlisted, with full knowledge he would fight in
a Mid East war. He wanted to serve his
country and follow in his decorated father’s footsteps, even though it meant
temporarily leaving his pregnant wife Kari.
He never returned. Nobody took it
harder than his father Bob. Emotionally
withdrawing from life, the pharmacist-mayor is basically going through the
motions until his daughter-in-law moves back to town with the grandson he
turns out Christian Revere is something of a rebel, doing subversive things
like sneaking Bibles into the public high school. At one point, he challenges his grandfather as
to why his town no longer publically celebrates Christmas. It is a question the Mayor has no good answer
for. Suddenly, the town’s crèche is out
of mothballs and media-lawyer Warren “The Hammer” Hammerschmidt is seriously
bent out of shape.
not exactly perfect, Campbell and McAfee step up the Evangelical filmmaking
game with Courage. The main performances are all professional grade, including
several from genuine “name” actors and there are some well conceived plot points. Shrewdly, screenwriter Campbell casts the teenaged
Revere and his friends as the rebels in their uber-P.C. high school, which is
quite representative of current reality.
The cleverest bit involves their plan to hijack the school’s winter
space alien visitation play and turn it into a Christmas pageant. Though Campbell, McAffe, and company clearly
faced severe budget constraints, the war scenes are rendered in rather dramatic
the best scenes in Courage feature
the younger cast members, including Hunter Gomez as the grandson and Jenna Boyd
as the daughter of his late father’s best friend. Unfortunately, Mayor Bob’s campaign to save
Christmas is pretty clunky stuff. Still,
it is always cool to see Fred “Black Caesar” Williamson, even if he does little
more than villainously chomp his cigar as Hammerschmidt. Action movie veteran and real life veteran
Marshall Teague also does quite respectable work as Mayor Revere. He just has too many over-written speeches
down the stretch.
you have to dig pretty deep into the cast before you find the awkward
performances that have given faith-based productions a bad name. It is also pretty mind blowing to think
Jennifer O’Neill of Summer of ’42 fame
is in such a radically different film, but here she is, portraying Mrs. Revere
with admirable conviction.
However, like previous films produced with the
Evangelical market in mind, Ounce has
a hard time resisting the temptation to preach.
The trick is to embed the message rather than stopping to announce
it. Still, Last Ounce of Courage carries the official Chuck Norris seal of
approval, so you’d probably better go see it.
Better safe than sorry. It opens
nationwide tomorrow (9/14) and opened in select theaters, including the AMC
Empire in New York, this past September 11th.
Labels: Fred Williamson, Marshall Teague, Religion in film