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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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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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 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?
- In theaters: March 22, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: May 21, 2019
- Cast: Tanner Stine, Mykelti Williamson, Frances Fisher
- Director: Chris Dowling
- Studio: Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, High School
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic content and some teen partying
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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