'God Bless the Broken Road' (2018) Movie Review
God Bless the Opening Disclaimer
Before I begin, I would like to say that I don’t criticize films for being Christian based. This may be an odd thing to open a movie review with, but I recently got into somewhat of a debate with a family member who accused me of apparently being harsher on films that register under the Christian faith. To a certain extent that is true in the sense that I expect that any movie claiming itself to be Christian will contain good morals and not try to manipulate opinions by using hate/fear mongering in their content. There have been a lot of movies within the last few years, particularly ones produced by Pure Flix Productions, that have masqueraded as being Christian when their true goals I found to be much more sinister. I have called out movies such as God’s Not Dead 1 and 2 for matters such as that; as well as others like War Room, Let There Be Light, Mom’s Night Out, and Old Fashioned to name a few. Movies like those aren’t trying to spread good morals, they’re dangerous and hateful propaganda that hold terrible lessons. I have never once disliked or unfairly critiqued these movies because they called themselves “Christian”, if anything I hate some of these movies because they sully what true Christianity means and that’s something I refuse to let pass. Now, have all Christian affiliated movies been bad because of the reasons I just mentioned or even bad at all? No, not even close. There are plenty of Christian movies that are great, good, just fine or even bad for lesser reasons. Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ and Silence are some of the best films I have ever seen, period. Jesus Christ Superstar is also great with its paralleling of the Christ story and modern celebrity. Earlier this year I Can Only Imagine came out and that was a relatively decent flick, nothing great by any means but the point I’m trying to make here is that I won’t ever judge a movie negatively just because it labels itself as Christian, I critique it on its own merits. Those merits being within the writing, direction, cinematography, acting, editing, etc. Nothing more, nothing less.
So if you disagree with me on a movie or you believe that I have judged one too harshly and unfairly then by all means, let’s have a discussion so that we may understand each other’s point of view on the subject at hand. As for the family member that accused me of not treating Christian films fairly, I’d like to say to you… Nanna nanna boo boo. Maybe you should go watch Old Fashioned and see how much you like it!
With that being said, onto the review!
God Bless the Getting On With It
I’m not going to lie, I watched this movie a few hours ago and when I was started to write the synopsis for this page I was drawing a blank for the longest time. I had just seen this movie less than four hours ago and I really struggled remembering what in the world this was really about. Maybe because the plot feels extremely forgettable that I had issues recalling it. God Bless the Broken Road is about a recently widowed mother, Amber Hill, who lives in a small town is now in the middle of a crisis of faith as she becomes overwhelmed in her financial situation, so she must fight to keep her home. In that time a newcomer to town starts kindling a romance with Amber. Can Amber save her home while in her attempts to be a good mother and trying to move on in love after her husband’s tragic end? And I don’t care, this movie was lame.
God Bless the Broken Road doesn’t necessarily contain any bad morals per say, but everyone in this movie is an idiot, not that well acted, and has some of the most cringe worthy dialog I’ve heard this year. I really did not like this movie in the slightest, I will say that on a technical aspect it is surprisingly adequate; which is saying a lot since the movie was directed by the man who also directed the first two God’s Not Dead films and was produced by Pure Flix, but for whatever reason was dropped by them a couple of years ago. Not entirely sure as to why Pure Flix closed their involvement with the film, but it’s been stuck in limbo since 2016 until Lionsgate randomly seems to have thrown it out to the public now. Odd.
God Bless this B.S.
I’d like to touch on Amber Hill, the lead character of this movie. For the most part I understood this character’s motivations; when she was broken the news about her husband being killed in Afghanistan I understood why she stopped going to church. Although maybe it wasn’t such a great idea for whatever reason instead of telling her this bad news at home the soldiers proceeded to follow her into a church in the middle of singing practice to tell her there, how professional. Anyways, I understood it. I understood why Amber stopped singing. I understood why she was at odds with her mother in law. I even understood her reasons for what resulted in the third act breakup cliché. What I do not understand is how she is clearly in such a financial bind that her current job of waitressing just doesn’t cut it, why she doesn’t take the several opportunities presented to her by everyone in this town. Amber’s mother in law, as unbearable as she was, still offered her a chance to franchise her business that could easily prevented losing the house as well as letting Amber get to spend more time with her daughter instead of waitressing seven days a week and selling her engagement ring in a pawn shop only to still not be able to afford paying off the mortgage. This isn’t the only offer she was given either since there were multiple people willing to help such as people from her town, guys in the army, her celebrity race car driver boyfriend, but nope. She does nothing with any of those possibilities. You’re probably thinking, “Well I’m sure it all turns out alright in the end and she gets to keep her home”. You are sorely mistaken my friend because *SPOILER ALERT* she loses the house and is forced to live in this four room shack with her daughter because Amber dug herself so deep into debt that she has no other options. Amber Hill, I know you’re a fictional character, but you’re an idiot.
The mother in law drove me insane with how overbearing and controlling she was over Amber, every scene they shared together it was always the mother in law overstepping her boundaries to tell Amber how to raise her child. Aside from the stupid decisions Amber was making financially, she was being a fine parent and didn’t warrant the mother in law sticking her nose that far up her butt. It felt as though the movie was under the impression that I was supposed to being siding with the mother in law and I so wasn’t, with the exception of the franchising opportunity, I couldn’t stand the mother in law. The mother in law admittedly did have one decent moment in the third act when Amber’s daughter runs away from home briefly, the mother in law has a good line involving a small group of people being lazy when they’re supposed to be searching for her granddaughter. I enjoyed that split second of entertainment.
I wanted to chunk Amber’s daughter out of a freaking window. I hate this type of child acting, I really do. That type where the kid is played overly cute, pronouncing words in that ‘oh so precious’ way that made me want to gag. I can’t stand that lazy attempt at being cutesy, it’s obnoxious and I hated it here. Especially since the humor of this movie feels like some of the worst sitcom jokes ever and a large portion of it comes out of that little demon spawn’s mouth. For example, Amber has accepted going on a date with race car driver dude. I don’t remember his name and I don’t care, it’s race car driver dude. Cut to later that night when Amber’s friends come by to check on her before her date, the front door opens with Amber’s hair a mess with curlers wrapped up in it and her makeup smudged all over. Pan down to Amber’s daughter saying, “We’re gonna need a little help”. A WINK! Or later on when it’s supposed to be oh so dramatic that Amber’s daughter has run away from home. Cut to a police officer seemingly pulling over a vehicle with him saying “License and registration ma’am”. Pan down to the little girl sitting in a go-cart as she spouts the line, “Was I going a little fast, officer?” Ha. Ha. Ha. Screw you. I don’t know who to blame on this girl’s performance; whether it was her or the director, I don’t know and I don’t care I wanted to smack her so badly.
God Bless the Cheese
This movie’s attempt to be dramatic fails so miserably it really threw me off guard when it happened. During the movie there is this paralyzed man in a wheelchair trying to set up a discussion to have with Amber as it turns out that he was a part of her husband’s platoon in the attack that caused his death. Finally the two of them talk in the last act to show a flashback of the husband’s very bloodless war death, afterwards the paralyzed man tries with all of his might as the music swells over the scene while he starts to stand so he may solute her. It was hilariously cheesy. The movie thought that this was probably its big moment that would make the whole theater cheer, if people cheered at this it’s because they have sex with the American flag. Joking. I’m not saying that it’s bad to be patriotic, the scene was just too silly to be taken seriously.
There are several scenes that try so hard at being dramatic or sweet, it tries too hard and faceplants every time. Amber and race car driver guy are on a date at this restaurant as they’re playing Scrabble, the word ‘less’ is on the Scrabble board and race car driver guy says, “Sometimes less… is more.” Can you guess what race car driver guy does with the word ‘less’? Come on. It’s not too difficult to figure out. Terribly cheesy movie revolving around religion, what could he turn ‘less’ into? ‘Bless’, of course! You got me, movie. You got me. Another true “heart wrencher” of a scene is when race car driver guy gets into this major car crash during a race, I mean several flips and the exterior is completely gone. The scene amping up the drama as Amber and her daughter are in hysterics, everyone shocked at this terrifying accident, smoke everywhere. Smoke completely filling the screen as everything becomes very quiet when all the sudden we finally see that race car driver guy is A-okay without a single scratch on him and entirely unharmed in any way as the music bombastically enters back into the movie. I forgot to mention the Karate Kid subplot that goes on with an old mechanic and race car driver guy that’s also lackluster, but I’ll just cut to the chase and say it’s laughable. There’s just a lot of stuff like that scattered throughout and it’s always forced.
God Bless That I’m Done With This Schtick
This was a chore to get through, at the very least I can say is that it doesn’t seem to have any bad messages in it. Although the fact that Amber and her daughter lost their home, went through all this crap and now have to live in this broken down shack seems to be implied that the only reason it happened is because Amber refused to go to church; now that she’s going back to church everything is good again, even though her situation hasn’t actually improved and she’s in a far worse place than she was at the beginning of the film. I find that to be somewhat questionable, but I’m going to let it go because who cares? I don’t. Amber was an idiot that could have avoided all of this if she accepted simply one person’s offer to help, but she preferred to make things worse for herself. The rest of the characters were also irritating in their own right. The dialog was uninspired and the comedy made me hate children. The drama never felt natural nor engrossing. The acting was mostly below average, aside from Lindsay Pulsipher as Amber and Kim Delaney as her mother in law were fine in their performances. If someone were to like this movie I don’t believe that I would fault them too harshly for it since it is harmless enough, but in terms of film making and writing, God Bless the Broken Road falls wildly short. I personally don’t recommend it at all.
© 2018 John Plocar