“The Grace Card” is part of what appears to be a growing trend of ministry movies, films made by churches and released into theaters in a novel attempt to spread the word to mainstream audiences.
Almost by definition, though, the people who stand to benefit the most from the films’ positive messages are the first ones likely to turn up their nose at them.
That’s true even if the movie in question is well made. It’s especially true when, as with “The Grace Card,” the movie is dragged down by earnest but amateurish performances and an overall “Afterschool Special” vibe. The film was made by Calvary Church in Memphis, Tenn.
“The Grace Card” gets points for its positivity and love-thy-brother message. The story centers on an angry Memphis police officer named Mac who, 17 years later, still is tortured by the death of his toddler son. The pain is threatening to tear apart what’s left of Mac’s family.
Mac is paired with a new patrol partner, a part-time preacher named Sam. Mac is none too pleased with this new arrangement — in addition to being generally angry, he’s also a racist sort. So he would probably have precious little patience for Sam even without all the patrol-car preaching. But this new relationship turns out to be a blessing in disguise when another family tragedy strikes.
“The Grace Card” is a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. In addition to prominently featuring a Bible quote on its website, it offers a wealth of resources for ministries and Bible classes interested in using the film as a teaching tool. That also means, however, that it’s easy to see where the film is going long before it gets to its maudlin and preachy third act.
If Calvary Church measures its film’s success by reaching, and perhaps changing, at least one person, then maybe it will be a success. If it measures success on the entertainment value of its film, however, that’s another story altogether.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Scott writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)
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