What can I say about War Room? Or better yet, what can I say about it without offending one's religion? I know these movies do have an audience that will praise these films up like they're the greats things ever made! I'm not here to tell you what you can and can't like, but rather just to give my opinions, how I felt about the movie, and explain what works and what doesn't for me in a film so as to give people more information that might help them decide for themselves whether this is the movie for them or not. And if you think I dislike this film because you think I might not be religious... well, to be honest I'm Roman Catholic, I believe in God, the Devil, and Jesus Christ, and while I'm not extremely religious, I do believe. I just find most religious movies too sappy for my taste in films. I guess that is my disclaimer before I review this film...
I do not feel this movie is all bad. I did have some enjoyment watching the film (hence why it's not under one star), even though some of that enjoyment came from feeling it was so bad that it was hilarious. The film is a small one about a family in a crisis. The parents' marriage is falling apart and they find more time arguing than paying attention to their own daughter. I'm all for a good family drama that feels real as much as I love big blockbusters or big fantasy or science fiction movies coming out. I like all kinds of genres and will always give a movie a try, even the ones I feel like I will not like. I appreciate what they tried to do and I love that they tried to tackle a very relevant topic. Trust me, I know there is a lot of divorces out there and couples on the brink of them A story about a couple getting through their differences, working together, and finding a way to patch things up is a worthy story to tell. The problem is, many other non-religious films have done this far better than War Room. Don't get me wrong, there are some pretty powerful moments... or at least there's one powerful moment that is handled well and dramatically good, but most of the drama falls below average to downright laughable.
Acting is decent too, but mainly from husband who can often times be pretty bland. The wife can do great dramatically to, but most of the time, her facial expressions are distracting and look like they'd fit better in a comedy. She often times has this surprised double-take-like expression. The only one that is truly entertaining the whole way through is the old woman teaching our main character how to "pray the right way", but I feel she'd only be great if this were truly a spoof of a religious film rather than a serious one. It plays the stereotypical old, black, church lady. Do you know the kind? She's a very over-the-top stereotypical one that would feel right at home in an Adam Sandler film!
One extremely great thing about the film is that War Room never really treats non-believes like they're the spawn of the devil and it's not a religious film trying to convert a non-believing family into Christians. The fact that the family is already deeply religious makes the whole film far easier to swallow. It is one of the few religious movies I've seen that isn't trying to convert the characters or the audience into believing a certain religion. I think that is key to making this an acceptable film and and less condescending than others. That is something to be truly admired in War Room; I just wish I could have liked the film.
The message is a double edge sword. On one hand, it asks you to have more faith in God and that's a commendable lesson for the faithful, no matter what religion you abide by. However, the film asks too much for the characters and if they were in much drastic situations, this would have been terrible advice. The lesson is to use prayer as a weapon and pray solely to God for help, not to fight your own battles. In this film's case, it works because the couple is simply arguing (though one is planning on an affair). So, when one stops arguing and just takes it, it confuses the other until he finds all the prayers of pleading to God to help her husband that he understands. The scene where he breaks down and asks her for forgiveness is truly the only great scene, in my opinion. But imagine if the husband were abusive physically, to the point of life threatening for the wife? One of the most extreme situations, but would simply praying for God to help be the best of advice? The best advice would be to get outside help from the Police, marriage counsel, or something! Otherwise, things would not get better and she'd most likely be dead by the end of the film. That's what I mean about the lesson being a double edge sword. To a certain degree, it is admirable, but in more extreme situations, this life lesson is more harmful.
Forgiveness is also a great lesson learned in War Room, but it's done to a degree that it just makes all the character's gullible. There is one instance that the husband does something very illegal: Stealing from his work! But because this is a religious movie and it needs to have a happy ending, all is forgiven without pressing any charges. So, I guess it's alright to steal if you're really, really sorry from the bottom of your heart and give back some of what you stolen to show that you've redeemed yourself. The characters don't seem to act like real people, for the most part. Hell, there is one moment where the wife and the old lady get mugged! But instead of giving up her money, do you want to know what the old woman says to the man with a knife (he might have had a gun, I don't quite remember)? She starts spouting out that he should be ashamed of himself and in the name of Lord Jesus, he should stop what he's doing... or something along those lines (I had my mouth open and just stared at the TV, asking myself, "What did she just say?") In real life, she probably would have got stabbed, but instead it cuts right to them talking to the police. We don't even know if the mugger really took their money or what the mugger's response to the woman.
There are times when this film really does feel like a spoof. There are just some scenes where I can't possibly think it's anywhere else, such as a scene where the old woman is doing a jig of sorts and praising Jesus and God in the most dramatic of ways, and a scene where the wife curses the invisible devil in her house, out into the street, and then comes back out onto the street to curse at him some more. It's also one of those films where the scenes meant to be inspirational and serious are just so hilarious, but the scenes meant to be funny are awkward and plain terrible. Grant it, some of the humor is funny, but in a bad, I-can't-believe-they're-really-doing-this sort of way.
The montages are to die for. They are so horrendously bad, I nearly rolled on the floor. There are three of them in the film. War Room also has like three endings. It feels like two of three movies strung together!
In the end, I feel War Room has some good moments and moments that are so entertainingly bad. If this were meant to be a spoof of a religious film, than there could be something there to really enjoy, but because so many people that or serious about religious films that hail this as the best movie of the year, I have a feeling it's not meant to be a spoof.