GREATER premiers in theaters Friday, August 26, 2016
Recently I was asked to review the movie GREATER which will arrive in theaters Friday, August 26, 2016. This is a true story about determination and victory despite overwhelming odds for failure. It is about a young man with incredible faith who persevered to become what might be the greatest walk-on college football player of all time.
Even at a young age growing up in rural Arkansas Brandon Burlsworth had only one dream: to play football with the Arkansas Razorbacks. He was a chubby kid with little talent. He endured teasing and unkind words from his teammates and even the other kids at school. His father (Michael Parks) was a drunk and so Brandon was essentially raised by this mother (Leslie Easterbrook) and brother Marty (Neal McDonough), who was many years his senior and often mistaken as his father. Brandon came to know the Lord at an early age.
As time progresses and you see Brandon grow up on screen into the burly football player (Christopher Severio) you can’t help but notice his unbelievably strong walk with the Lord. His mother shares his strong faith and regularly encourages him to study the Bible and maintain a close walk with the Lord. His mother helped him to believe that he could do anything as long as he worked hard for it. Though his brother Marty was married with children of his own, he spent time with Marty and often accompanied him at sporting events.
His football coach was an encourager. He told Brandon that if he was serious about playing football that he needed to be the first one at practice and the last one to leave. Brandon took it to heart and faithfully did all that the coach recommended. Even so, Brandon was not seen as a great ball player and could not earn the scholarship that was needed to attend the University of Arkansas to play with the Razorbacks. Instead he showed up as a “walk on” and proved that he could not only play football, but he could be one of the best players on the field. In fact, he became so good at football in college that he was eventually drafted by the NFL to play for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Good – Family Friendly
This is a good, clean film that I would recommend for the family — especially young boys who want to play football. It shows how faith in God can help to encourage and overcome even the most difficult of life circumstances. It shows how Brandon’s testimony leads others to follow Christ. It reminds you of how important it is as a parent or sibling to also have a good testimony and to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It also shows how courage and determination can change the system and allow even a “walk on” to be awarded with the scholarship that he and his family desperately need for him to finish college.
Christopher Severio (Brandon) and Neal McDonough (Marty) were very well cast for these parts. They were believable, which helped to draw you into the story.
The Not So Good – Things to Beware
Understandably this was a film about a boy who was raised in the deep south, however I did find it very difficult at times to understand some of the character’s speech. For example, Michael Parks (Brandon’s father) had such a heavy drawl that I missed much of the dialog. There were times when name calling and ridicule happened, I even heard “fat ass” at one time. But that is the only bad language that I can recall. The movie is longer than 2 hours, it probably could have been just as good in 90 minutes.
The man on the bench and in fact the whole “bench” scene with Marty and the man probably could have been entirely cut out of the movie. Though it should be noted that it seemed like the man was there to “tempt” Marty into losing faith.
I like to make note of my favorite lines in movies. Here is what I jotted down:
“Just because we don’t see the point doesn’t mean there isn’t one” ~ Brandon
“Bad things happen to good people, evil people thrive” ~ Marty
“You have to trust that something Greater sees things from a higher perspective, where everything makes sense” ~ Momma
This is a good family-friendly movie and you should go see it. You will rejoice and you will weep. I think this is a great movie to talk about with your children. So many life lessons here.