Sorry everyone, it has been about a month since I last wrote a review. Life has gotten in the way. However, just like Hillary Clinton after suffering pneumonia, I am back with a vengeance! Yippee-Ki-Yay mother truckers.
With the current political fervor sweeping the nation, it is only fitting that I watch a movie that has as much of a grasp on reality that Trump does on policy…so welcome to God’s Not Dead 2: School Administration Boogaloo.
Is there a rule that Christian movies must be completely awful? That would be the only way to explain the decisions made when making these movies. Maybe your run of the mill evangelical christian just has bad taste in cinema, and can’t understand the messages of a movie unless it is hammered over their head by a cross. However, this film is better than the first God’s Not Dead. How? The actors are better, there is less domestic abuse, and it seemed like they at least tried a bit.
Anyway, this film stars Melissa Joan Hart as our protagonist Grace Wesley. She is a devout Christian who happens to be a history teacher at a public school. There is Jesse Metcalfe, the inexperienced and rather informal lawyer that is going to defend her. He also happens to be a non-believer. There is Ray Wise from Twin Peaks who is an ACLU lawyer that is fighting to punish Grace for mentioning Jesus in history class, Pat Boone who plays Grace’s grandfather (I think), who is a preachy asshole, Ernie Hudson playing the judge, and more. There are also some returning characters from the first film, most notably the pastor, who is now on the jury, and the Chinese kid, Martin.
The film is about the persecution that Christians face from our legal system, while also trying to make the case for God’s existence. One of Grace’s students Brooke recently lost her brother, and she was struggling to move on. She learned about Jesus by talking to her teacher, Grace, outside of class, and found out that her brother believed in God. Her household is strictly non-religious it seems, as it is her parents that seem to be the most offended at the teacher. Specifically the class is discussing Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi in the context of nonviolent protests. Brooke asks about Jesus talking about nonviolence, and Grace responds by quoting the bible.
One of the students messages their parents about the teacher preaching in class, and shit goes downhill for Grace in a hurry. The principal, union rep, and the other teachers seem to be against her. She is advised by her lawyer, Tom, to just apologize and never mention Jesus in class again. That would be easy, but she is willing to be courageous and face public scrutiny for her faith. So we go to trial, and the ACLU is sending their A-Team to take down the Christians.
On the other side we see the point of view of the pastor from the first movie. He is summoned for jury duty, and makes the erroneous claim that you are more likely to be struck by lightning than make it through the selection process for the jury. His old friend who is a pastor too his back and will be studying for his doctorate. Meanwhile the Martin from the first movie has 140+ questions to ask the pastor. Martin gets disowned by his family for pursuing Christianity. He decides to dedicate his life to the Lord and become a pastor, and return to China to spread the word. God’s Not Dead 3? (PLEASE GOD NO)
So then we have the trial. Its a bit weird, though I am not an expert on the format of a trial. The ACLU guy states that Brooke is a minor and therefore has no rights as far as the court is concerned, which isn’t even remotely true. Over the course of the movie there are several arguments presented to argue for Grace. Now, keep in mind that the intended audience of the movie are people who are already believers. They argue that Jesus was a historical person and therefore referencing Jesus in class is acceptable, that makes sense. They argue that she was just asking a question by a student and that she didn’t ever go out of her way to preach, which is true and makes sense. All I want to know is, is this something that would actually go this far today? Or have they created their own world where they are constantly persecuted? I go with the latter and put this movie into the genre of Persecution Porn.
Back to Brooke! She decides to be a witness, despite how upset it made her parents. Tom, the defense attorney, is hesitant because he hasn’t talked to Brooke yet about her side of the story. Brooke, being unprepared, gets talked into admitting that if Grace hadn’t mentioned God that she wouldn’t be a Christian (she became a Christian earlier), and because of that Grace was preaching in the classroom. How very sly Mr. ACLU! Everything looks lost for Grace, she is about to be metaphorically crucified for her religion. To make things worse, the pastor falls ill and is unable to continue being a juror. Believing that he would be on her side (and he was) they feared their replacement wouldn’t be so kind to religion, she had dyed hair.
Meanwhile the local government is forcing every pastor to submit their sermons for the last 6 months. Why? I don’t know. Has this ever happened? I don’t know. It was really dumb, but reinforced the persecution porn theme of the movie.
Anyway, all looks lost and then Brooke organizes a group of people to sing christian songs outside of Grace’s house. Her grandfather sings along and is happy. He doesn’t die in the movie, I thought he would.
Well, here we are, the final day of the trial. No, not the Kafka book… Tom the lawyer comes into the court room late, however he has a new suit and shoes on which makes him look more professional. He takes a different approach, calls Grace to the stand, and tries to sort of bully her. The point he was trying to drive home is that if she is found guilty then the repercussions would be dire as it would clearly be being persecuted for faith. Meanwhile outside the courtroom there is a growing protest, and we are treated with some great signage.
The jury comes back, of course she is not guilty, and everyone celebrates. The ACLU people scowl a bit, the main ACLU guy admires Tom’s new shoes, and they leave. Afterwards we are treated to a performance by the Newsboys, an Australian Christian pop rock band, featuring their song “Guilty” which has the lyrics “God’s Not Dead, He’s Surely Alive!”. This lyric is also a chant that they do at times in the movie. They were also in the first movie.
Well, that’s the movie. It is persecution porn for a Christian audience. The film itself, outside of the plot or the writing, is actually better than the first. The characters are slightly more realistic than the first movie as well. Unfortunately, overall, it is only twice as good as God’s Not Dead, but I will add +1 point for the sign (shown below). I won’t be texting my friends, however.
I award this film 7/100 points, and may God have mercy on its soul.
At the end of the film they take the time to show you a list of court cases that are somewhat related to religious freedom, most (if not all) defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Believe it or not, the Freedom the Alliance is Defending protects bigotry.
The film promotes something called The Human Right, which is the right to know Jesus. As with the last film, it encourages everyone who watches to do social media things. This time tweeting “Silence is the enemy of truth! I will make Jesus known.
#thehumanright” Really, just go to twitter and search it. People watch this movie every day.
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