Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) and her rookie lawyer (Jesse Metcalf) make a case for Christian persecution in God’s Not Dead 2.

Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) and her rookie lawyer (Jesse Metcalf) make a case for Christian persecution in God’s Not Dead 2.

Reel Reviews: Story lets down the film

God's Not Dead 2 is an earnest film that with B-grade actors and a weak storyline

  • Apr. 8, 2016 9:00 a.m.

In a small American town, a well-liked high school teacher, Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart), gets into trouble with the school’s administration when she answers a student’s questions about Jesus Christ by quoting scripture. Threatening to be fired, the matter becomes a court case that quickly garners national news coverage. Before too long an entire movement grows out of the conversation of Christian persecution.

We say, “This is a strange fiction.”

HOWE: So Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Melissa Joan Hart) has traded in her witch coven with her aunts and instead dedicated her life to Jesus, in God’s Not Dead 2. I wasn’t expecting anything miraculous from the film. As with most movies like this, the acting is rather under par, with either B grade actors or below, yet for some reason this wasn’t.

TAYLOR: Well, although this film wafts its intentions through the air, stinking up the place, there are some recognizable faces and capable actors in God’s Not Dead 2. You also have celebrities in the film just because they’re celebrities and proud Christians. You may not recognize all of these names — Ernie Hudson, Fred Thompson, Ray Wise, Robin Givens, Pat Boone — but you are sure to feel their earnestness. Everything about God’s Not Dead 2 says “after-school special.” It’s squeaky clean, cut and dried, black and white, sweet as an apple pie cooling on the window sill, yet simultaneously acerbic. It is a starched and bland courtroom melodrama borne from hurt feelings. If other organized groups who falsely felt persecuted, decided to make a movie illustrating that falsehood, how would anyone be blamed, critic or otherwise, for not appreciating how this film alienates the sensible. There has a been a rash of stupid movies lately — has everyone stopped trying?

HOWE: It was the story itself that let it down; don’t get me wrong, religious movies when made right are fantastic — take The Passion of the Christ for example, perhaps one of the best movies ever. This on the other hand is just a weak and lazy story made for the Christian community. Please don’t get me started on The Newsboys.

TAYLOR: It becomes boring because in its conception and execution, things have to go to extremes to create a proper storytelling dynamic. So we have a political argument about subjective concerns where on one side Hart’s Grace is practically glowing, while Ray Wise’s Peter Kane (the “bad” guy, an ACLU attorney) is heavy handed, a sneering atheist evil-doer. It’s overbearing, but somehow this film is number- four at the box office. Watch the trailer, you probably will not go. A Christian’s time is no less valuable than that of anyone else, let us not waste it on silly films.

— Taylor gives God’s not Dead 2 one cube of sugar out of five.

— Howe gives it one and one half cups of coffee out of five.

Reel Reviews with Brian Taylor and Peter Howe appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.