Evan Almighty an Almighty Flop

Well, the word is in – Evan Almighty flopped at the box office, and Hollywood is wondering why Christians didn’t come out to support the movie. Mark Joseph writes the following for Fox News:

In its aftermath, once again the chatter from Hollywood is how, despite another earnest and sincere attempt to make a movie for “those people,” the elusive faith-based audience that came out to see the Passion of The Christ has once again failed to turn out en masse for a movie thought to be tailor-made for them. The problem with such an analysis is that it’s not unlike making a movie featuring blackface and wondering why the African-American audience isn’t interested.

I find it amusing that Hollywood would think that Evan Almighty is a Christian movie in the same vein as The Passion of the Christ. In fact, I find it amusing that they would think it is a Christian film at all. Yes, it has God and the ark in it, but God is re-written as Morgan Freeman, and the original flood is re-written as an attempt to teach people the importance of practicing random acts of kindness. There is no mention of the flood as God’s terrible judgment for sin on a terribly sinful world, no discussion of the ark as a pointer to Christ as the one way of salvation from God’s terrible judgment for sin.

“What?” you say. “Bring Jesus Christ into it? Hollywood couldn’t do that. They would lose business at the box office.” But without Jesus Christ, how can you call it a Christian film? And, as I recall, Jesus figured fairly prominently in The Passion, the movie whose results Hollywood has been trying to replicate.

As a frustrated movie goer, at this point I would be happy just to see some films that reflect Christian morals. I don’t expect Hollywood to teach me about Christ and the Bible. But I would like them to respect my faith and values. Especially when it comes to kids’ movies. There are so many movies that I would have been glad to bring my children to if only the movie producers had left out certain language or questionable scenes. Back to Mark Joseph’s article:

Despite the bomb that was Evan Almighty, millions of devout Americans are still waiting to be invited into a theater to see a film that is entertaining, affirms their values and doesn’t trivialize their deeply held religious beliefs.

To which I can only add a hearty, “Amen!”

How about you? Did you see Evan Almighty? Do you feel Hollywood understands its Christian audience? Have you been frustrated by any movies at the theater lately?

HT: Tim Challies

7 Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    I have not seen Evan Almighty. The commercials on TV were enough for me to know I was not interested.

    Two really good movies with strong Christian values stand out for me. “Chariots of Fire” and “The Hiding Place”. I wish there were more movies like that.

  2. Jeff says:

    Ray,

    My wife and I and our children have been enjoying two series that came out of Hollywood a while back. They can certainly make wholesome TV or Movie’s if they really want too. The Walton’s is one of them and just recently we picked up the series Christy.

  3. Ray Fowler says:

    Margaret and Jeff,

    Those are some great examples of what Hollywood could be producing if it specifically wanted to market to Christians. Other recent examples include The End of the Spear, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Nativity Story. And all of these did quite well for their genre.

    None of them matched The Passion, but The Passion was a unique movie that succeeded in a way very few movies ever will, Christian or not. I think Hollywood is trying to reproduce the dollars that came out of Christians going to see The Passion, but does not really understand the audience they are targeting. So they make movies loosely based on Christian or biblical themes, but then include inappropriate language or questionable scenes that keep the Christian audience away.

    I would dare say that many Christians probably put up with these elements in other movies, but definitely don’t want them in a specifically Christian themed movie.

  4. eclexia says:

    The Disney movie, Ruby Bridges, is my all time favorite. Having read some of her story, I was pleasantly shocked to see Disney keep some explicitly Christian themes in the movie version.

    The movies I like other people tend to find slow-moving and without much plot. This one may be the same. But my kids and I like it anyway!

  5. Christopher Robin says:

    What exactly do you mean that God is “rewritten as Morgan Freeman”? I wonder what it is exactly that is so offensive to you about Morgan Freeman portraying God in a movie. I wonder what you think God looks like and acts like, and how you would have God portrayed in a movie. At any rate, I have a few ideas why you could never see Morgan Freeman as portraying God in a movie.

    Also, did you really expect a light-hearted comedy to delve into the ideas behind the flood as “God’s terrible judgment for sin on a terribly sinful world”? Would it have been ok if they had gotten into that subject matter, and selected their own list of sins that caused this flood? And what sins do you have on that list as justification for killing most of mankind? I have a few ideas of what your list of sins might be too.

    Regarding either of the above issues, you don’t come across as terribly Christ-like…

  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I don’t have any problems with Morgan Freeman. I have been a big fan of him ever since Electric Company! My favorite role of his was the Shawshank Redemption, followed by Unforgiven. He was also excellent in Robin Hood, and I had no problem with him playing the president in Deep Impact.

    In this post I was addressing the issue of Hollywood making or marketing movies to a Christian audience, and yet somehow missing the mark. I would have had the same problem with God being re-written as anyone – whether Morgan Freeman, George Burns or Billy Graham.

    In answer to your second question, no, I would not expect a light-hearted comedy to delve into the deeper matters surrounding the flood. I know some Christians who went to the film and enjoyed it. I love comedies, and I love to laugh, but for me it would be difficult to enjoy a comedy built around the theme of the ark. I have the same problem with jokes about hell, because it just doesn’t seem a funny topic to me. There are plenty of other subjects that are ripe for comedy.

    The Bible doesn’t make a specific list of sins that caused the flood. We just read in Genesis 6:5-6 – “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”

    I am guessing that you and I may not agree about the sinful nature of man and whether God has the right to judge such sin. Suffice it to say that whatever sins caused the flood, that same sin dwells in me also. I believe the heart of sin is rebellion against God, and I am as guilty and deserving of judgment as anyone.

    But just as God made a way of escape from the flood through the ark, I believe he has also made a way of escape from sin and judgment through the giving of his Son, Jesus. The heart of the Christian message is God’s love and forgiveness through Christ, and I am sorry if that did not come through in my post.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting, and I hope I have answered some of the questions you raised.

  7. POGIONE says:

    I recently watched it and thought it was ok. I would give it 3 stars out of 5.

    I would not label it as a Christian movie. More like a casual religious movie or a casual semi-biblical movie.

    If they tried to market it the way Passion was marketed, then they were totally confused. Passion is as serious a Christian movie as one can get. This is a lighthearted comedy with some religious/biblical themes.

    It was entertaining for me, but if someone was trying to market it to me as Christian movie, I’d laugh at them. It most certainly is not a Christian movie, since Christ is not there and there is no mention of Him.

    I understand what they were trying to do, they were trying to put a modern spin on one of the world’s oldest stories. The concept was a little flawed in that, this should have been a family or kids movie, but all that political crap and the main character being a congressman just flew over little kid’s heads. Kids don’t care about politics. Maybe the main character should have been someone the kids can understand…a firefighter, cop, doctor whatever…anything but a congressman! And lose the political angle too.

    Overall an entertaining movie but with some flaws and marketed to the wrong audience.

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