REVIEW: Courageous

I just watched the movie Courageous, about some men who decide they will make a special commitment to be better men and good fathers.

The context is Georgia and the milieu is decidedly Baptist, though one of the main characters is Catholic.  If you allow the movie those starting points you can readily transfer nearly every bit of this into a Catholic context as well.

It strikes me that this would be exactly the sort of movie that sophisticated critics or critic-wannabees would sneer at but which, once the sneering was concluded, they would want to watch again.  Liberal males will envy the men in it and liberal women will secretly wish they knew one of these guys instead of the “SNAGs”* with which they surround themselves.

The acting in Courageous is a bit uneven, as there are quite a few non-actor volunteers involved.

There are some good moments involving loss and grief and moral challenges, ethical dilemmas.

I would like in particular to recommend this movie to seminarians and priests.  We too need a message like this every bit as much as fathers of families.

As a matter of fact, at the point after the four friends collectively make their commitment to manhood and fatherhood, the preacher they have with them makes a little speech which could be one of the best admonitions you could ever hear from a bishop to the men he will ordain:

“I also have a warning for each of you.  Now that you know what you are to do, and have committed to do it before God and these witnesses, you are doubly accountable.  Let me also assure you, that you may have confidence in this resolution and your resolve now, because as you stand here there’s no challenge, no controversy, and no conflict.  But I can assure you that challenges will arise, conflicts will arise, and controversy will arise. It is at that moment that, in order to live our this resolution, you will need courage… courage… courage.”

This is what we need from our fathers in the family and in the Faith.

Holy Church has spiritual fathers.  By Holy Orders they are both priest and victim, the one who offers sacrifice and the one who is sacrificed.  Holy Church teaches that the family home is the “domestic church”, and so there must be within the home that figure who also embodies one who sacrifices and is sacrificed.  That person is the father.  And every manner fatherhood has been and will be attacked by the father of lies so as to drag society down so that lost souls may be harvested for eternal separation from the Eternal Father.

The song at the end of the film sums up the principle point:


The trailer is HERE.

We’ve got to get men back into society and we start by getting them back into families.

As I said above, there are uneven spots in the movie and some moments veer sharply and nearly irretrievably into the corny.  But once you give yourself over to the premise of the movie, you will probably want to own it and give it as gifts.

It’s sincere, and it nails the the issues squarely.  Give it a try.

UK DVD HERE.   I think this will “translate” well because it deals with something that is simply human.  This might be needed even more in the UK than in the USA.

*“sensitive new age guys”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. oldcanon2257 says:

    Father Z,

    Since you’re reviewing movies, an upcoming movie that looks promising is “For Greater Glory”/”Cristiada”, the movie about persecution against the Church in Mexico in the 1920’s and the Cristeros War. It is even more relevant and should resonate with us now given the fact that freedom of religion is under attack in the United States (according to recent quotes from Francis Cardinal George, forced secularization is just around the corner.)

    I saw the various trailers of “Cristiada”, and it appears that those of us who are fans of the Roman fiddleback chasuble will be in for a treat and get to see plenty of those in that movie. From the look of it, the sacred vestments in the movie are beautiful. There are plenty of mantilla as well.

    I would have posted the links (to the trailers) here, but since it’s not directly related to the subject of this post, I refrained from doing so. People could see the trailers on YouTube by searching for the keywords “for greater glory trailer”.

    Viva Cristo Rey!
    Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
    Saint Christopher Magallanes, pray for us.
    All saints of the Cristeros War, pray for us.
    Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us.

    [I suspect they will send me a review copy, which I will gladly watch and review.]

  2. Bea says:

    Can’t wait to see it.
    I’ve already bought it, but haven’t had time to see it.
    Good idea to give to priests and seminarians too.
    We have a youth group that’s quite active. It’ll be just the thing for father to show them, it seems to me. Good for mothers to see too, so they can bring up courageous boys.

  3. NoraLee9 says:

    I took my daughter out to see Casting Crowns out at Newark Auditorium (whatever that place is out there in Jersey) a couple of years ago. They were amazing in concert. The lead singer was some kind of youth minister before forming this band. Anyway, the show was great and it got Catherine to understand that there was more to music than Lady Whats-her-face and the Jonas Brothers.

  4. southern orders says:

    What is really amazing is who produces this film and other box office hits and on a very small budget. It is a Southern Baptist Church in Albany (pronounced All – Benny) Georgia. I was stationed at the only Catholic Church there from 1980 to 85, St. Teresa of Avila. Already then, Sherwood Baptist Church was becoming a mega church building fabulous facilities for their members,but also using drama in their worship and doing it very professionally.
    This has evolved into a movie making ministry that is now having international effects. These movies are made on a shoe string budget but has brought in millions. These movies clearly have a very powerful Christian theme that transcends Southern Baptist sensibilities. This is what has pleased me the most, because many of these movies are quite “catholic” in their message. Sherwood Baptist Church in the early 80’s in Albany was not that ecumenical especially towards Catholics but this church has certainly accomplished many good works with this film making ministry today and has a much broader ecumenical appeal to say the least. Could a Catholic parish do the same? And if not, why not?

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Southern Orders — There’s no reason a Catholic parish couldn’t use drama as a ministry. Back in the 1600’s and 1700’s, the Jesuits wrote a lot of plays and operas, often acted by schoolkids or friends of the order. They included all sorts of plots and settings, from sacred to secular, and from ancient to contemporary. There were a lot of drama works based on the various Japanese martyrs, for example, about five minutes after it happened. (Because the Jesuit mail system throughout the world meant that a lot of Jesuits heard about what happened to their brothers.)

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and the folks at St. Philip Neri’s Oratory. That’s where the word “oratorio” came from; they invented the format.

  7. Liz says:

    We own three of these movies. Yeah, sometimes the acting makes you cringe and certainly there are times in the movies where you just want to kneel down and say a litany to Our Lady or something in thanksgiving in the fullness of the Faith. Thanks be to God we are Catholic.

    Still, they are making decent movies that are entertaining and my kids can watch them. (Well, the little ones have not seen Fireproof since it deals with pornography. I doubt they would know that since it’s so well done, but just in case.)

    My husband and I saw October Baby last weekend. It’s really well-done and not so “preachy” althought they definitely aren’t afraid to mention God. It seems a lot more professional and one of the actors is from Courageous. I’d like to see it again.

  8. deo_volente says:

    We watched this movie with a bunch of guys from church. When one of the husband and wife couples is talking about what these men are agreeing to, his wife says something to the effect that this is an important occasion that should be justly noted with proper respect. I said aloud, “Yes, you need LITURGY.”

    Not implying that such a thing should be done in the context of Catholic liturgy, but that as humans we are naturally drawn to and recognize the need for structure and formality in important thing. As a previous commenter stated, “Thanks be to God we are Catholic.”

  9. EXCHIEF says: see this link for a discussion of this movie on my wife’s blog

  10. Toan says:

    “The only way we’ll ever stand is on our knees with lifted hands.”

    Typical Casting Crowns. They’ve got a gift for making poetic, challenging lyrics. I love it.

    I will most definitely watch the movie — thank you for the review.

  11. Bea says:

    Just finished reading the book.
    It should have a “Nihil Obstat” , unlike some modern “Catholic ” books.
    I found it very witty, besides the moral message.
    I’ll have to check the movie out soon.

  12. VincentUK says:

    I’m not sure that one of the main characters is Catholic. He and his family are Hispanic, but I didn’t see any evidence that they were Catholic. They have a plain cross (without corpus), not a crucifix, on the wall. They say no specifically Catholic prayers.

    I saw the film at the cinema, and enjoyed it so much I watched it again on DVD. The acting is patchy, but overall it’s good.

    I wasn’t too bothered that they made a Hispanic character (who ‘should be Catholic’) Protestant; it’s their prerogative in making the film. If Catholics ever make this kind of film, then it’ll be our right to have Catholic characters.

  13. inara says:

    The Hispanic character was our kids’ favorite ~ they still imitate him terrifying the “bad guy” in the back of the police car with his Spanish fast food order, LOL! (and, yes, they also noticed there was no Jesus on his cross)

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