“Faith of Our Fathers,” the latest offering in the growing faith-based film market, gets high points for good intentions but loses most of them for execution. The writers got so wrapped up in the spiritual aspects of the story that the mechanics fall apart.
The story of two strangers united by their efforts to learn more about their fathers speaks strongly about father-son relationships. They learn a lot about their fathers — and themselves — as they make a long road trip to Washington, D.C. to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that faith played a large part in the lives of their fathers and of the wayward sons. There are moments when the film gets preachy but that’s to be expected from offerings in this genre.
Visalia’s Kevin Downes not only co-produced the film but also stars in it. On those two levels, he turns in an accomplished effort. It’s the work he did with Carey Scott, Harold Uhl and David A.R. White on the screenplay that proves the downfall.
The film is filled with characters making illogical decisions, unexplained occurrences and illogical actions that are used to force the plot to move forward. The core idea was strong enough to make this movie work had it been handled with a little more care.
One of the biggest bumps is the time setting. Although there have been plenty of military conflicts over the past half century, the movie is set in the late ‘90s to fit the time frame of the fathers being in the Vietnam War. Except for a shot of the memorial, there is really no good reason to use such a timeline. It just makes the movie feel distant.
The problems start early. To create tension, John (Downes) decides just weeks before his wedding to make a trip across the country to find out about the father he never knew. He’s not cared for 30 years. A few more weeks wouldn’t have made any difference.
But this opens the door for conversations between John and his future bride (Candace Cameron Bure) that make him look self-centered and her shrewish.
John seems to have been written as being relatively intelligent but he agrees to so many idiotic things the character comes across as weak and unbelievable. He’s the kind of guy who would let two strangers take his car and never suspect them of any evil intentions.
His character is suppose to have a big, caring heart because of his devout faith. But even Jesus saw the bad in the money changers.
The worst moments have to do with one of the most important pieces of the movie being in a location that makes no sense. The writers didn’t even attempt to offer an explanation. It ends up being another element to derail the story.
Downes deserves a lot of credit for turning in such a strong performance despite the holey (along with holy) script. His acting is real and warm and shows the kind of complexity that makes characters come to life.
Then there are the bad actors like Si Robertson. The “Duck Dynasty” star is not just bad but he’s allowed to ramble on and on, making each line delivery sinfully bad.
“Faith of Our Fathers” is so heavy on the faith angle there should be a collection plate passed at each performance. There’s nothing wrong with presenting faith-based material. But when it becomes this pronounced, it will be more difficult to lure viewers from outside the choir.
Downes and company should continue making these kind of movies. What needs to be remembered is that good intentions are not penitence for bad writing and acting.
The film opens Wednesday, July 1.
‘Faith of Our Fathers’
- Rated PG-13 for war violence
- Stars: Kevin Downes, David A.R. White, Stephen Baldwin, Candace Cameron Bure
- Directed by Carey Scott
- Running time 96 minutes.