So last week I finally got to see this movie because there was a lot of buzz surrounding it. It was presented to me as a movie that is a must-see because it is a Christian movie that isn’t bad.
Because nearly 95% of all Christian movies I see are so bad. But this one wasn’t. It wasn’t super amazing, but I actually viewed this as a pretty decent film.
But this was a rare treat because unlike all the other Christian movies I have seen, this had a believable story (well, it was based on real events), the acting was competent, and the basic structure of lighting, sound, etc all seemed pretty good.
It’s challenging because there have been so many Christian movies I have seen that completely miss the mark. Movies like “God’s Not Dead” and whatever Kirk Cameron puts out display the total lack of connection to reality that so many Christians have. They don’t know who their audience is and the message is equally harmful to Christians and non-Christians. Even “The Passion of the Christ” suffer from their own personal agenda that it loses its intended message as a whole.
What makes “I Can Only Imagine” a much different film because even though it markets itself as a Christian movie, it isn’t so convoluted in its own self. The movie features domestic violence, which is rarely ever eluded (or even shown) in Christian movies. The movie dares to reach a point where the story is relatable to the audience — regardless of whether of not the audience is Christian. And the acting, especially the singing, is really good.
The movie still has its faults as the message can be lost in how you confront an abusive father years later after you move on. Is it safe to just embrace and forgive just because of a disease? What about counseling or even having the father apologize? These things never happened and that is problematic, as there was no proper channel for forgiveness. You can talk about it being divine and God-driven, but I can imagine that someone without a Christian background would need a little more to understand how you can just forgive someone like that.
Still, it’s not a bad movie. There were a lot of things mentioned in the movie that I didn’t know about even though I am Christian. I can’t name a song by MercyMe and the title track “I Can Only Imagine” I have only heard a couple times before, but it wasn’t a big deal ever in my life as the movie suggests. I didn’t even know that song and the band were connected until this movie came out. Also, the hubris is pretty big since the movie is solely about Bart Millard and the rest of the band are not important at all in the storytelling.
It’s not an awful Christian movie. That is progress. It’s not super great either, but I’ll take this small step. Hopefully the next batch of Christian movies are going to get better. Because as a Christian, we deserve better too.