The Christian domestic drama “War Room’ arrives on home video December 22. Produced by Alan and Stephen Kendrick, the filmmakers behind successful faith-based films “Fireproof” and “Courageous.” “War Room” opened at #1 at the box office, grossing nearly $70 million on a $3 million budget. Fans of the Kendrick films will likely enjoy their latest project, but others will pray for it to end.
As is traditional with inspirational films, the bulk of the runtime features sermonizing from the characters, and even scenes featuring actual sermons. The main proselytizer in “War Room’ is an elderly widow named Miss Clara. Soon Miss Clara is urging Elizabeth to set up a “battle plan” of prayer so Elizabeth can avoid the “land mines” that might destroy her family. The insistence on treating the family unit as a war to be fought seems like a strange way to honor the Prince of Peace, but Miss Clara seems sure of her methods.
The film is essentially two hours of stilted conversations on faith. Painfully generic domestic squabbles (“Can we talk about this later?” “No, we’ll talk about it now!”) segue into platitudes which could double as Facebook posts. At one point Miss Clara says “people are always leaving Jesus out, that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in,” a line surely to be met with applause by anyone who might enjoy “War Room.”
The most striking thing about “War Room” is how it clearly blames Elizabeth’s lack of faith for the problems in her marriage. One of Elizabeth’s co-workers says “submission is learning to duck so God can hit your husband,” (which, by the way, is one of the dumbest things ever uttered) and that’s when the Kendricks’ message becomes clear: marriage is essentially an endless battle, but as long as the wife submits and prays in a closet five times a day, maybe, just maybe, the marriage can survive, and don’t even THINK about getting a divorce. It would be interesting to know how this “duck and pray” strategy would play in front of victims of domestic abuse.
Whatever one thinks about the message of “War Room,” the film is simply bad. Frankly, the film’s $3 million budget still seems way too high. The film is also burdened bad acting, bad drama, bad camerawork, bad everything. The pacing is atrocious, with the film’s two-hour runtime feeling approximately six weeks long. Blu-Ray audio/video quality is negligible, although fans of the Kendricks films will find lots of extras that they will enjoy.