NEW YORK (CNS) — A story with a Christian message is a rare and compelling gem for Catholic viewers in today’s Hollywood culture. At the same time, a film that leads first with a positive message, and merely tacks the story on as an afterthought, is one set to leave even the most devoted Christians cold.
Unfortunately, this is a problem with “Last Ounce of Courage” (Veritas Entertainment) — a picture about religious freedom and standing up for what one believes against the tyranny of the vocal minority.
When war veteran and small-town mayor Bob Revere (Marshall R. Teague) witnesses a war on Christmas taking place across America, he is inspired by the memory of his deceased son — who died in combat 14 years earlier — and the challenge of his broody grandson Christian (Hunter Gomez) to stand up and continue the fight for freedom for which his son so valiantly died.
Therefore, on Bob’s orders, Christ is put back in Christmas, the lights go up and carols are sung once again. Yet as the mayor seeks to encourage his fellow citizens to reclaim the feast of the Lord’s Incarnation, he must face off against the sinister Warren Hammerschmidt (Fred Williamson) — a lawyer from the fictitious American Civil Liberties Organization — who sees Bob’s crusade as an infringement on the separation between church and state.
All while this is going on, the younger members of the community, led by Christian, are faced with a generic school winter celebration and comically try to hijack the situation and inject Jesus back into the proceedings.
Unfortunately, directors Kevin McAfee and Darrel Campbell’s picture lays the emotion on thick to make their point. The film no doubt has some very poignant moments accompanying its laudable and refreshing message, especially those between Bob and his wife Dottie (Jennifer O’Neill). Yet, when even the light-hearted pageant story line ends in a tear-jerker finale, it is a sign that something is amiss.
While making salient points about the continuing threats to religious freedom that are real and present, the plot comes across as highly conspiratorial and forced in order to fit the message being promoted. So, in one early scene, Christian is dragged in front of his school principal, and his family called in, when he is discovered to have a Bible on his person. Really?
Amid the lashings of exuberant flag-waving and political points about civil rights movements gone awry sits a picture that both moves and promotes a solid pro-faith message. Unfortunately, the accompanying tidal wave of weak story and sentimentality threatens at all times to overwhelm Christian audiences rather than inspire them.
The film contains a few instances of combat violence and occasional distressing scenes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103