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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Second Chances (2006)  

Review: written 2007

Well intentioned low key Christian drama

In execution this movie tries in turns to be edgy (gang turf issues! Prostitutes needing help!) and hip (Michael W Smith sings!) but the underlying message is actually quite low key, as is the acting.

Michael W Smith plays the son of a highly successful pastor, being groomed to take over a large affluent church, with its large international outreach program. He helps the pastor of their sister church, called Second Chance, which is where his father started - it is in the slums, with outreaches to the poor and needy, the prostitutes and gang victims. He is admonished for giving the pastor of the poor church a chance to speak his mind on live television, and as discipline, is sent to the Second Chance church for a time, to observe and report. Naturally, in doing so, he starts to gain a realization of his distance from real life and genuine outreach, and becomes a better person..

Some of the efforts at getting a message across are a bit clumsy - Michael Smith has his fancy BMW damaged and trades it in for a small cheap car and is happier as a result. However, some of the underlying themes of where church politics can lead are prescient and worth raising. Should affluent churches from wealthy neighbourhoods really invest so heavily in African outreach, when poverty and destitution are creating huge problems on their doorstep?

In answering these questions, the movie comes across a little one sided and heavy handed, but the point is certainly made, if lacking punch in the finale.

A worthy effort and well shot and acted. Michael W Smith won't win any Oscars and still looks happiest when singing rather than acting, but the end result is well worth a view, and good family entertainment. In fact, it occurs to me, that with the interesting milieu of characters, this would have made a better TV series!





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