By REY FLORES
“And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know.”
I mention the above lyric in reference to the 1970s popular hit song Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas for a couple of reasons. One, the song is featured in this movie and two, the lyrics really are fitting to this story, and, I think, a humble admission of a repentant atheist.
The Case for Christ is a great bio-pic of Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel. Strobel was previously an award-winning investigative reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune and he was also a staunch atheist to the core.
Strobel was so determined to disprove the existence of God, or at least the divinity of Jesus Christ, that he spent years researching and writing about the topic, eventually leading him to write the book The Case for Christ. Unlike late atheist and author Christopher Hitchens, Strobel did find his way to our Lord and has now been ministering and writing all about Christ and Christianity for decades having published several books since.
Strobel is played by actor Mike Vogel who gives a terrific performance as the young, cocky, and brash writer determined to leave his mark in this world. Equally impressive is actress Erika Christensen as Strobel’s wife, Leslie, who is the catalyst for her husband’s eventual conversion. Christensen, you may recall, gave a powerful performance in Traffic, the 2000 film in which she portrayed the drug-addicted teenage daughter of a federal drug prosecutor, played by Michael Douglas.
There’s also a surprise guest appearance by legendary actress Faye Dunaway, and other great performances by actors L. Scott Caldwell, Frankie Faison, Mike Pniewski, and Kevin Sizemore.
The film starts off with Strobel being lauded for winning an award by his colleagues at the Chicago Tribune. In a celebration later that night with his wife and daughter, a stranger enters into their lives to save their child from choking on a gumball. That moment is the beginning of where the Strobels are today.
Without giving too much away, the storyline goes on to show how Strobel is threatened by his wife’s sudden interest in Jesus and how he becomes determined to prove that Jesus was only a man and that Christianity as a whole is one big farce.
In the meantime, Strobel was still writing investigative stories for the Chicago Tribune which led him to write a story about an alleged cop shooter. Because of Strobel’s initial story, the man ended up getting 15 years in jail. Later, upon discovering he had been played by a crooked cop, Strobel worked to get the arrested man exonerated in the name of justice.
The stranger I mentioned earlier is a nurse who saved the Strobel’s little girl from choking, but for the rest of the story, she serves as a spiritual mentor for Leslie Strobel, who starts attending worship services regularly and eventually is baptized.
There are some humorous scenes. At one point Strobel accuses his wife of cheating on him with Jesus, and at another point his little daughter asks him about Jesus or tells him “we prayed and everything was better” after he missed his wife delivering their second baby.
Like most Pure Flix productions, this is an exclusively Protestant movie, but these films flirt here and there with Catholic representations. This movie features Strobel having a great conversation with a Catholic priest about the New Testament in ancient manuscripts and the Shroud of Turin. Just before that conversation, the camera pans in on a beautiful façade of a Catholic church and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Speaking of cinematography and creating a realistic time period film, I applaud the work of Art Department Coordinator Kelly Mills and Set Decorator Natalie Rhooms. Having most of the story take place in 1970s Chicago, there were several pop culture references near and dear to my heart, as I lived in that city during that decade.
There was the well-placed Kansas song I mentioned earlier, an old commercial with the owl biting into the center of a Tootsie Pop, old Schlitz beer bottles, a box of Freakies breakfast cereal on the kitchen, and the Strobel daughter opening up a present that looked like an old 70s Barbie doll. Other details I enjoyed were the bad 1970s hairstyles, mustaches, fashions, wide ties, classic Camaros, big giant hulking computers, and classic old typewriters ticking away in the crowded and smoky newsrooms.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable movie, clocking in at almost two hours. While it should be age-appropriate for the family, younger kids might prefer something a little more fast-paced.
I truly enjoyed watching this film and I learned all about a terrific couple named the Strobels. Very inspirational and highly recommended. Please support good Christian films in theaters every chance you get.
The Case for Christ opens April 7, 2017 nationwide, but you can visit http://caseforchristmovie.pureflix.com/ to view the trailer and to buy tickets online.
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(Rey Flores reviews books, films and music for The Wanderer. Contact Rey at email@example.com.)