Steve Taylor is no stranger to controversy. His music in the ’80s was unabashedly pointed at issues of hypocrisy and general laziness within Christian communities and its leaders (and it’s important to realize that he recognized himself as part of that community). He was willing to hold up a mirror for those who would listen to see their behavior and how it frequently ran contrary to the faith they professed. In 2006 he released this movie, serving as writer, director, and one of the producers, that tackles the issues of racial and economic segregation as it plays out within a church.
When I first heard of this movie I was intrigued because Steve Taylor was deeply involved, so I had a pretty good idea it would have some real substance. When I found out that Michael W. Smith was playing one of the leads, I was nervous that it would turn out to be just another “Christian” movie with good intentions, but poor production. It felt like stunt casting to me.
Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Smith did a good job. He’s not going to win any awards as an actor (yet, anyway… it’s his first role), but there are only one or two spots that I thought he wasn’t quite up to the challenge. The rest of the movie he was fine, and he was surrounded, generally, by some pretty good talent.
Here is how the site describes the story:
Same faith. Same city. Different worlds.
The Second Chance is a film about two men – one from a white church in the well-to-do suburbs and one from a black church in the inner-city projects. Although founded by the same man, each church manifests its mission in a very different way. This film authentically tells the story of how a rebellious son and a street-smart pastor struggle to bridge the gap between their respective churches and cultures. More importantly, at its core, The Second Chance is about being willing to step outside your comfort zone and serve where you are called.
That’s a good synopsis of the plot, but what it doesn’t get across strongly enough is the word “authentically”. It’s really a film about bridging cultural gaps and reconciliation; it just so happens that the church is the background in which that is played out. To me, the best part about this movie was that it did approach its characters as real people. These are people who are also Christians, not some stereotyped preachers whose every scene depicts pious devotion to God with pithy little disconnected life lessons. (The inner city preacher, for example, struggles to keep himself from cursing.) This is not a preachy movie. Everyone is motivated by doing what they believe is right, even though they don’t see eye to eye with others.
In the end, while I recognize that there are flaws in the production (even the director says the first 20 minutes are slow), the movie worked for me. It made me consider my life and actions right along with the main characters – am I too comfortable? Should I be challenging myself more in supporting others in need? How might I be more open to that?
With two musicians prominently involved in the film, I expected some good music. There wasn’t as much of it as I would have liked, honestly, but there was some good stuff:
Movin’ on Up – Third Day
All in the Serve – Michael W. Smith (Steve Taylor was co-writer)
Hang On – Michael W. Smith
There is no doubt that The Second Chance is meant to make you think. They even created a study guide to help facilitate discussions on the issues of motives, compassion, and obedience brought up in the film. More “message” films should do that… I certainly could have used one for Crash.
[tags]Steve Taylor, Christianity in Movies, Michael W. Smith, cultural divides, racial issues[/tags]