Kendrick's work improves with every film, and he deserves his seat at the head of the faith-based film table. His latest entry is well written, well made, and well acted. Overcomer does exactly what most would expect from a Christian film: It focuses on curbing any hypocrisies in churchgoing families and demonstrates how to convert lost souls to followers of Jesus. But that doesn't mean the story unspools the way you think. It's got some surprises, including the bold move of having the well-meaning main characters do something that we all know they shouldn't. (It's almost like a horror movie: You want to shout at the screen "What are you doing? Turn around! Get out of there!")
Kendrick is no longer a newbie using church funds and members to scrape together a no-budget flick to spread God's word. Overcomer is a big studio film. But Kendrick still took on every significant role: writer, director, producer, editor, lead actor, and more. And what he didn't do went to other Kendricks (the credits are a humorous testament to either volunteerism or nepotism), so he alone gets the praise for all the things the movie does right. But he must also take responsibility for where it goes wrong. On that front, it's disappointing that the film plays up racial stereotypes: the teen thief, absentee dad, and drug-addicted mom are all Black, while the family that comes in to save the day is White and has no dysfunction. These uncomfortable representations could have been avoided if Kendrick had switched the races of the families -- but to do that, "White American male" Kendrick (as he identifies himself in the movie) would have had to cast someone besides himself as the lead. Kendrick has grown as an actor, and he does a fine job, but not in a way that owns the role -- plenty of other actors could have delivered a performance as good or better. The movie is about identity, and to that end, perpetuating negative clichés about minorities is harmful. So, the film's big question should go back to the filmmaker: Who are you -- and is vanity getting in the way of your purpose?