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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that King's Faith is a faith-based drama. Brendan, the teenaged protagonist, was convicted for selling drugs and is trying to turn his life around, having found faith in a Christian God during his time in prison. The difficulty of leaving crime behind is illustrated as old associates come around to threaten Brendan's foster parents and new friends. Brendan is beaten up and a friend is pushed off the road. Both are seen later with bruises. Guns are waved and a dead body is shown in flashback. A high school girl reveals that she's had an abortion, which may have implications about her commitment to God.
What's the story?
In KING'S FAITH, Brendan (Crawford Wilson) never knew his father, and his mother died of a drug overdose. Perhaps it's not surprising that he ended up doing time in juvenile detention for selling drugs. When he gets out, having found religious faith in prison, he wants to turn himself around. Math teacher Mike Stubbs (James McDaniel) and his wife, Vanessa (Lynn Whitfield), become his last-chance foster parents. Many factors are working against Brendan's full integration into law-abiding life. Detective Dwyer, the local cop, doubts that Brendan can go straight, but even more ominous is the constant and menacing presence of Brendan's old gang, and its evil leader, Eli, still looking for buried drugs and money Brendan can direct them to. At the same time, a classmate named Natalie (Kayla Compton) flirts with Brendan but he stays clear, thinking she is still with another guy named Zach. She assures Brendan that they've broken up and eventually confides that she's conflicted and down because she had an abortion that she never told either Zach or her mother about. As Eli and his crew hurt Brendan's innocent friends and beat Brendan up, Brendan makes some questionable decisions about how to get Eli and company out of his life. A fight ensues. A gun is pointed. No one dies and Brendan manages to both do the right thing and stay out of trouble. The movie is dated 2013, but these teens seem to live outside the world of mobile phone obsession and social media.
Is it any good?
Good performances by appealing actors make this a likable movie about teen redemption. Faith in God is touted as the number one cure to what ails the troubled kids here. Faith-based movies that dwell on magic and miracles may put off faith-neutral viewers, but King's Faith offers a subtler integration of faith into the lives of its characters, whether believers or non-believers. For example, honesty to friends and family is also advised as a method of recovery from trauma, and a girl who had had an abortion begins to heal after she lets her mother and ex-boyfriend in on her secret. Crawford Wilson as Brendan gives a believable and contained performance as a young man who is aging out of the foster care system with no one to turn to but the kind and caring foster parents who take him in after losing their own son, a police officer killed during a traffic stop.
Solid performances overcome intrinsic weaknesses in the story's conception. To maintain a kind of false plot tension, the script never sends Brendan to the police when his old gang starts threatening him. Certainly after Eli and friends beat Brendan up, the logical thing to do would be to call the police. He could also have told the police where the drugs were hidden, eliminating the gang's motivation for stalking Brendan. Such logical, real-life solutions would certainly make sense, but they wouldn't help manufacture drama, which is at its heart what this movie is about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that everyone makes mistakes and that when people are remorseful it's important to show forgiveness. Do you think that crimes are mistakes that shouldn't be forgiven? Why or why not? Did King's Faith make you want to be more forgiving?
When people try to make up for past mistakes, should you believe that they really want to change?
Many ex-cons have trouble finding jobs and making their way into law-abiding lives when they get out of prison. Should our society welcome them back with open arms or ask them to prove that they are trustworthy first?
- In theaters: April 26, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: November 4, 2014
- Cast: Crawford Wilson, James McDaniel, Lynn Whitfield
- Director: Nicholas DiBella
- Studio: Provident Films
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Self-control
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for violence, some drug content and thematic elements
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