A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Last Ounce of Courage is a drama about what's been referred to as the "War on Christmas." It suggests that Christians are no longer able to celebrate Christmas in a religious way because political forces are bullying them. The movie encourages people to fight back. Content is mild: There are some brief flashbacks to war footage, a little flirting and kissing, and some background smoking (plus an unsympathetic character who smokes a cigar). Viewers already in tune with the movie's message are likely to appreciate its sentiments, but those who aren't may find it angry and heavy-handed.
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What's the story?
Fourteen years after his son Thomas died in the Middle Eastern war, distraught father Bob (Marshall R. Teague) gathers for Thanksgiving with his wife, Dottie (Jennifer O'Neill); his teen grandson, Christian (Hunter Gomez); and his widowed daughter-in-law, Kari (Nikki Novak). Watching an old family Christmas video, Christian wonders why Christmas celebrations are no longer so joyous. Bob realizes that, since his son died in the name of freedom, he owes it to Thomas' memory to do something about Christmas. He starts putting up decorations all over town, but opposing political forces soon intervene, threatening Bob to get him to take them down.
Is it any good?
For starters, LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE looks and sounds terrible. Shot on bleak video with a kind of hollow soundtrack, not even the Christmas decorations look festive. The actors struggle with their dialogue, resulting in flat, awkward performances. The filmmakers are clearly more concerned with their message than they are in developing a strong story or characters, and the movie comes across as angry and heavy handed.
Moreover, the message itself is mixed. Bob champions freedom of religion and each person celebrating the holidays in his or her own personal way, but in the end, he seems intolerant of any other faith or way of life except his own. (The most interesting element of the movie is a school play, which tells the Nativity story in an outer space setting, something Last Ounce of Courage clearly disapproves of.) Families that already agree with the filmmakers' ideals may enjoy it, but for others, it's more likely to be exasperating than persuasive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what different audiences might get out of Last Ounce of Courage. If you're religious, do movies like this one help reaffirm your beliefs or introduce new ones? If you're not religious, what can you learn from them?
What are the various ways that different groups celebrate the holiday season? What are your own family's holiday traditions?
- In theaters: September 14, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2012
- Cast: Fred Williamson, Jennifer O'Neill, Marshall R. Teague
- Directors: Darrel Campbell, Kevin McAfee
- Studio: Rocky Mountain Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, some war images and brief smoking
For kids who love holiday fare
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