I know. I know. Christian entertainment is sometimes a joke to Christians, not because they’re not living true Christian lives, but because it sometimes seems that Christians who make movies for and about Christians don’t seem to know how to make movies, or don’t know how to match the power of the Gospel with a film story without cheapening the Gospel.
Kendrick Brothers and Sherwood Pictures seems to always stand out for having the least amount of cheese. That and make it to theaters. When I watched War Room, I had the expectation of some cheesy monologues and contrived situations delivered under obvious military metaphors.
“There always seems to be something to fight for,” says Clara, the pseudo-narrator, whose husband died of a heart-attack while helping the army strategize victory. And that’s the point of spiritual war: It plays by different rules. In regular war, you don’t expect a heart attack to kill a soldier. You expect bullets to. Even his death doesn’t seem according to plan. And for Clara, that could have been cause to give up on God and lose the greater battle.
We’re fighting the wrong fight in this film: Fighting over how to spend the money in a marriage instead of fighting to show their daughter how she matters; fighting to make sales for the house instead of make time for the home.
As Clara says, few of us know who we’re really fighting against, or how to fight against it. Victories don’t come by accident.
But the film doesn’t seem like an accident. A man tries to rob two main characters, and one of them scares him away with Jesus. Yes, the “Jesus card” has been known to scare off such offenders, but in the film it almost seems like the magic wise woman.
What makes it hard to follow the story is that it almost seems at times like a Bible study made into a script and at other times like a commercial for a spiritual mentoring movement—which isn’t to say that the film is bad. It is decent. But the overtness of the preaching can make us forget that we’re wrapped up in a story with characters. But perhaps sometimes an audience needs something overt. The message is clear:
Pray to God. Have a strategy. Satan wants to destroy your family. This is war.
And what I like about the film is that the battle isn’t with secular society, bad guys, or even temptation, but with Satan, and the battleground being our own soul. It’s deeply personal. It became deeply personal for me.
I mean I even stood up and cheered for Elizabeth Jordan when she prayed for Satan to be cast out of her home, ending with, “And I’m tired of you stealing my joy!” We should applaud that!
The film does urge us to take on a number of projects in order to strengthen our faith, chief among them being to have a “war room” where we can pray to God, a makeshift shrine where we can shut out the world and give it to the Lord, a strategy room where we can cover all the ways we can fight the Devil.
When we get through the cheesy preachiness, you can’t hate the film. For all its flaws, it’s very wholesome. This one is so professionally done it almost seemed like a Tyler Perry movie.
Here’s my theory: Films like this are partially made for Christians who normally don’t watch Hollywood films. They want to watch movies, and want them to be wholesome, but also don’t care a lot about trick camera shots, CGI, and star power. They want a good, wholesome story, and don’t ask for much else. It’s almost humble. We should be okay with that. And a little cheese is okay too.