A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes of forgiveness and humility. Heavy Christian messaging includes overcoming obstacles by finding strength and identity through God. Evangelical messaging includes that once someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then they get a clean slate. Other themes include compassion, humility.
Positive Role Models
Diversity in casting. A Black female principal is portrayed as a positive, strong, involved leader. However, most other Black characters cling to uncomfortable clichés, such as a father who abandons his baby, and characters involved in illegal activities like stealing, drugs. Story edges into "White savior" territory. A married couple demonstrates excellent conflict resolution/communication skills.
Violence & Scariness
A man vents frustration by smashing a brick on the ground. Two brief scenes in which characters express disapproval with raised voices.
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Products & Purchases
Close-up of soda fountain in school cafeteria shows Coca-Cola products. GMC truck in background.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character's past as a meth addict is a plot point, both in how it caused pain and disruption in others' lives and in how it led him to God. References to a young mother who died from a drug overdose.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Overcomer is a faith-based sports drama from Christian filmmaker Alex Kendrick, who also stars. The story's central theme is forgiveness, which is demonstrated on many levels -- the greatest of which is God's atonement of man's sins through Jesus' death and resurrection. Other themes include compassion, humility, and communication. The movie's purpose is evangelical, and a student who feels tormented by her parents' poor decisions finds immediate comfort once she's saved. There's no sex, swearing, or violence in this message movie, but it does deal with drug addiction: A character's past with drugs is a plot point, and there are references to a young mother who died from a drug overdose. While the casting is diverse, there are some stereotypes, like a Black family with a teen who steals, meth-addicted parents, and a father who abandons his baby. The White family, meanwhile, is depicted as pretty close to perfect and facilitates turning the Black family's life around. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.