Faith of Our Fathers

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Faith of Our Fathers Movie Poster Image
War drama has combat scenes, heavy-handed message.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Faith can help people get through even the most difficult times, especially if they believe they have a greater purpose in the world that will live on after they die. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

John Paul is determined to find out more about his father, who died in Vietnam before he was born, even if he has to put up with Wayne, whose impossible behavior is a front for his own tortured past. When the two men learn to trust each other, they find a way to work through their grief.

Violence

Several war scenes show men in combat, getting shot and blown up. Other scenes include fist fights, and a man holds up a convenience store at gunpoint. 

Sex

Kissing.

Language

One man repeatedly calls another a "moron," triggering a heated exchange.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Faith of Our Fathers is a faith-based war drama about two men -- both of whom lost their fathers in Vietnam -- who slowly become friends as they learn about their dads' wartime connection. Several combat scenes include machine guns and exploding bombs, and there's also an extended fist fight involving a group of men and a scene in which a man holds up a convenience store at gunpoint. But none of these sequences is especially intense, and there's no swearing, drinking, sex, or smoking.

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What's the story?

Weeks before his wedding, John Paul (Kevin Downes) decides it's time to learn more about the father he never knew, who died in Vietnam. John Paul tracks down Wayne (David A.R. White) -- another man who grew up without knowing his dad -- and flies across the country to meet him. While the two have little in common other than their fathers' histories, they still set off on a road trip to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., hoping to find some closure. But initially they mostly find conflict, as Wayne, a coarse and bitter loner, mocks John Paul's devout faith. In flashbacks to the war, we learn that Wayne's father also ridiculed John Paul's dad's religious views; in both cases, the skeptics eventually realize the power of belief. Stephen Baldwin co-stars as a soldier who survived the war and meets the grown sons of the men he commanded in battle. 

Is it any good?

FAITH OF OUR FATHERS is heavy on the spirituality message and light on production values: The acting is stiff, the plot is formulaic, and the connection between the two leads feels forced. Plot contrivances are manufactured to drive John Paul and Wayne into new situations, and hard-to-swallow coincidences help get them out of trouble. Of course their friendship is going to get off on the wrong foot, and its also no surprise that they eventually become best buddies.

The wartime sequences are secondary, and feel it. The battle scenes lack tension, the sets feel like something from a community theater group, and the characters are barely developed. Baldwin's small role is particularly clunky -- he bridges the gap between the two time periods, emerging from nowhere to meet the sons and deliver a cringeworthy monologue. There's nothing wrong with a character who finds God, but to make it work in a movie, he needs to have a better story about his moment of realization.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Faith of Our Fathers. Does it have more or less impact than what you might see in a blockbuster action movie? Why?

  • How does the movie portray friendship? What do Wayne and John Paul have in common? What is Wayne so difficult at first? And what about their dads -- what brings Eddie and Steven together? Do you think they'd have been friends if they hadn't met during wartime? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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