MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘Overcomer’ stumbles rather than triumphs


Overcomer” is a faith-based movie about perseverance, prayer, and unfortunately unlikely coincidences that would put just about any believer’s patience to the test.

The movie is not totally unwatchable. I made it all the way through, but you certainly have to put your brain on autopilot to get there. The screenplay is like a year’s worth of leftovers thrown together without much forethought or care.

That is disappointing considering the Kendrick Brothers, the writing-, directing-, production-, and acting-team behind solid movies like “The Prayer Room,” “Facing the Giants” “Fireproof,” and “Courageous,” ushered this half-baked movie into theaters.

The plot is simple and has very little spice. When a town economic tragedy put the kibosh on a Christian school’s basketball team, the head coach John Harrison (writer-director Alex Kendrick) is asked to coach the one-member cross-country squad. That lone runner is Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thompson), who suffers from asthma and a shop-lifting problem.
Hannah lives with her grandmother and believes her father is dead; however, during a trip to the hospital to visit a friend, Harrison meets a man suffering from severe diabetes, who just happens to be… Well, I’ll stop with the synopsis there. It doesn’t take a road map to see where the story is headed.

The movie rambles on from there. It attempts to tug at the heartstrings, and for some it might pluck them just fine, but for me the cookie-cutter plot meanders down a well-trodden trail and just sucks all the soul out of the performances.

Sadly the movie reinforces the stereotype of faith-based films with its all-to-coincidental plot and bland execution. This is the type of movie that sullies the reputation of faith-based movies as being edifying entertainment.

Maybe that’s why this film was burned off in the dog days of summer rather than released around Easter, the sweet pot for most faith-based movies.

(PG) 2 hr.
Grade: D

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Classic Corner – The Westerner

Walter Brennan in The Westerner (1940)

All month Turner Classic Movies has devoted each day’s slate of films to an actor of note with its Summer Under the Stars theme. Most days have featured a headliner like Shirley McClain, Fred Astaire, Mary Astor or Dustin Hoffman, but Tuesday, character actor Walter Brennan takes center stage.

Brennan rarely headlined a movie, but like the right amount of salt in a recipe, he brought out the flavor in every picture he made. Brennan is one of only three actors to win three Academy Awards (1936, 1938, and 1940). The other two actors are Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson, in case you were wondering. Among actresses, Katherine Hepburn won four Academy Awards with Ingrid Bergman and Meryl Streep following with three apiece.

There’s not a bad movie among the 17 Brennan pictures on TCM’s slate for Tuesday, but perhaps his best role among them is in director William Wyler’s” Westerner” from 1940, which airs at 7 p.m. The full list of films can be found on

Gary Cooper gets top billing as drifter Cole Harden, but Brennan has a true co-starring role as Judge Roy Bean, “the only law west of the Pecos.”

Bean is a curt and cantankerous justice of the peace, who keeps the peace for ranchers while collecting bogus fines and illegally seizing the property for his own benefit of anyone who looks at him crosswise. If person balks at his judgment, he then faces what Bean calls a “suspended sentence” — at the end of the hangman’s noose.

Cooper’s Harden is accused of being a horse thief and is about to face the Judge’s noose when he realizes that Bean has a thing for traveling English actress/singer Lily Langtry. Harden spins a tale of knowing her intimately, and promises Bean that he’ll give him a lock of her hair to prove it. Only that lock of hair is in El Paso.

While waiting on delivery of the lock, the actual horse thief is found and killed. In the mean time, Harden and Bean develop an odd friendship that will no doubt end badly.

In no uncertain terms, Cooper is the star of the film, and he’s crafty, clever, and charismatic as the White Hat Harden, but Brennan’s turn as Bean is what raises the level of the movie from being just another Western to a certified classic.