Let’s face it. The Christian film genre has not always had the closest table at the Golden Globes. As Christians looking for edification or Gospel tools at the theater, we have forgiven cheesy scripts, sub-par acting, and paid our fair share of money to support our tribe. Thankfully, as of late, Christian filmmakers have invested more time and resources into their projects.
“Home Run” is the latest evidence of great strides in Christian filmmaking. The story centers around Cory Brand, a major league baseball star and out-of-control bad boy. His alcoholism has led to stunts on and off the field putting his career in jeopardy. One such stunt gets him suspended and through a series of related events, Cory finds himself facing life in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, with ghosts from his past. Cory is forced to attend Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program, as he faces his past, present, and future as a man struggling with alcohol addiction.
The film wholeheartedly accomplishes its main goal as a Celebrate Recovery vehicle. The program is shown in a very real and honest manner. The movie does an excellent job of exposing hurts, habits and hang-ups in many of the characters, showing that we all have struggles in life that need God’s restoration. The film also exposes the rippling effects of unchecked sin. There is great hope that Celebrate Recovery groups across the nation will see a fresh harvest of people wanting to bring their hidden and dark struggles to light.
While the direct goal is accomplished, the movie itself accomplishes a leap forward in Christian film. Lead actor Scott Elrod and actress Dorian Brown give standout performances as the story’s central characters. There are a few hokey moments in the film, but overall I enjoyed the story as well as the way it was told.
If there is a weakness to the film, it is one that falls with many movies in the Christian genre. While the movie does focus on God’s power to transform us in our addictions and struggles, there is little about the Gospel or Christ Himself. Jesus is implied in the film, but there is no real mention of Creator God, our depraved nature, justification by grace through faith, and growth in Christ through the Spirit. While Christians assume these things, and they may be offered thematically, they are not directly afforded to us in the movie.
This may be too high an expectation for what the filmmakers were hoping to accomplish. However, we do need to remember that one does not need the gospel to quit drinking, be a more committed father, let go of pornography, or win the football state championship. While many of those things can come through the transformation of the gospel in Christ, those things are not the gospel or Christ.
This is where the church comes in. Movies don’t save people. Jesus saves people. Home Run is a great way to begin a conversation about Jesus. I highly recommend it. There are many individuals who may not walk through church doors, but will gladly sit in a theater with a box of Junior Mints and a five dollar Mr. Pibb. The job of the church is to take that tool and use it for the gospel. In making a quality movie with a God-honoring message, the makers of Home Run have put an excellent arrow in the church’s quiver.
* A note regarding the movie’s PG-13 rating: I would have no qualms about taking a child as young as ten to the movie. While there are some intense moments, great care is taken to ensure it is honest without being gratuitous.