Run the Race

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Run the Race Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Touchdown for faith-based fans; underage drinking.
  • PG
  • 2019
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Some of the movie's messages are easy to pick up -- e.g., failure is just a stepping stone, there's power in forgiveness, God has a plan even though we sometimes can't see it. Other lessons require strong familiarity with Bible (e.g., Hebrews 12:1-3, Galatians 2:20). It's meant to serve as example of what happens when you run to, not from, God -- but message may be lost on viewers who aren't devout Christians. Other themes include communication, compassion, perseverance, teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Brothers Zach and David exemplify perseverance, teamwork in difficult times; they use athletic ability, hard work to try to make a better life for themselves. They don't share same views, but that doesn't stop them from communicating or loving each other. But diversity is limited (characters of color are connected to sports), gender representations are stereotypical, and lying/cheating in a key moment is endorsed by all and leads to great reward.

Violence

An intimidating man is threatened with a baseball bat; it's implied that it's justified. Fighting is shown as a trait of masculinity. Athletes brawl on more than one occasion. Main characters' mother has died. Spoiler alert: A key character dies.

Sex

Flirting. A woman who isn't initially receptive to a young man's advances is pursued respectfully; it develops into a chaste romance. Certain remarks seem to value beauty more than other qualities. A teen boy is often shirtless.

Language

Trash talk between athletes on opposing teams. A teen consistently speaks disrespectfully to his estranged father. 

Consumerism

University of Florida is treated with aspirational reverence. Coca-Cola products are featured. A Ford Tempo and Walmart's Great Value cereal are shown to demonstrate poverty. Real products are seen in the background in a grocery store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking is consequence-free: High schoolers drink at a party with kegs, bottles, red Solo cups. A man drinks beer and is referred to as a drunk. A scene takes place at a sports bar; no one is seen actively drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Run the Race is a faith-based high school sports drama with heavy Christian messaging. It follows teen brothers who've endured a lot of hardship (including their mother's death) and are counting on a college athletic scholarship to escape poverty but find their dreams thwarted due to injury. The film is aimed at teens, and -- perhaps to feel authentic -- underage drinking is shown as acceptable and consequence-free. A teen romance is part of the story, but the only passion the two share is discussing God. There are scenes of threats and fighting, and (spoiler alert!) a key character dies. Expect plenty of stereotypes: The movie's black characters all operate in the sports environment, women are caretakers, and male athletes participate in testosterone-driven brawls. Still, from the sports angle, the movie encourages teamwork and perseverance as a way to overcome failure. There are also themes of communication and compassion in the story, which can be taken as a parable, since it plays out biblical lessons. Young sports fans may be excited to see the first film featuring Tim Tebow, who makes a cameo, as does fellow Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George.  

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byearlydawn March 5, 2019

Great Movie!

This is a great faith based movie. Good morals, great story line. My 12 year old grandson and 10 year old granddaughter went with me. They both loved it as much... Continue reading
Adult Written bybeachdigvball February 25, 2019

Great movie for all ages

First - the expert review is wrong for this movie. It is a great movie for kids and our church youth group really enjoyed it. We had a great discussion afterwar... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMarshall cloyd June 20, 2020

Crappy Movie

It's a faith-flick which isn't great for kids, since it doesn't show how illogical it is to believe in God. I run Cross Country/Track so I though... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCooltiger37 July 2, 2019

Otherwise decent faith-based drama marred by bad ending

Upon first seeing CSM's 13+ rating for this PG-rated faith-based flick, I thought it was pretty ridiculous. However, upon actually seeing it as a result of... Continue reading

What's the story?

In RUN THE RACE, promising high school football player Zach (Tanner Stine) and his virtuous brother, David (Evan Hofer), have endured two years of life's worst hardships, including their mother's death, their father's abandonment, a life-changing injury, and financial distress. The brothers work hard, with the goal of improving their lives by earning a college athletic scholarship, but then that door seems to close, too. With both of the brothers sustaining injuries that seem insurmountable, they take different approaches to life -- one running away from God, the other embracing him. 

Is it any good?

For Christian families who prefer to watch faith-based films, this film is a winner. But kids who think Sundays are for sleeping in probably won't like it -- or get it. So maybe it's appropriate that Run the Race is all about those types of opposing views. The story is a biblical exploration of how to deal when life keeps handing you lemons, and then the pitcher that's holding the lemonade shatters. Like the Bible's Job, Zach and David are having a really rough go of things -- it almost seems like life is trolling them. The brothers handle their circumstances differently: One embraces his faith as a coping mechanism, while the other has a chip on his shoulder. But in a film full of stereotypes, these two avoid clichés by avoiding extremes: God-loving David doesn't preach so much as live by example, and God-doubting Zach isn't a rage machine but rather handles his frustrations with acceptance. The boys are surrounded by gentle adults who listen and encourage them. But their conversations are almost entirely about their faith. More casual Christians may be on board until the movie's end; no spoilers, but it may be a deal-breaker for all but the most devout.

The filmmaking quality in Run the Race is on the better side for movies in the faith-based genre. It's not amazing, but it's not distracting. Still, the tropes are annoying: We get two flags, a Bible, a church, and country music in the first 10 minutes alone. And for all the answers the film provides to nagging Christian quandaries, it creates more questions. One in particular: The resolution involves cheating that's endorsed by all the adults and the faithful. Huh?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the adversity that Zach and David endure in Run the Race. How does Zach's attitude change? Why do you think he's able to be a forgiving person after tragedy?

  • How does Louise (or "Nanny") teach Zach compassion for his father? What's the difference between compassion and empathy?

  • How do Zach and David reach their goal using teamwork and perseverance? They don't see eye to eye on how to cope with their difficulties. How do their communication skills allow them to strengthen their brotherly bond rather than break it?

  • Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? Why are stereotypes problematic?

  • How is drinking portrayed? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love faith and football

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