Screen Gems review: "God's Not Dead 2"

Courtesy: Pure Flix Productions

April 1, 2016
"God's Not Dead 2"
Rated PG for some thematic elements
Studio: Pure Flix Productions

Just like its predecessor, "God's Not Dead 2" asks questions about faith and its place in the modern world.

The story revolves around history teacher Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan-Hart). Her answer to a classroom question about Jesus lands her in big trouble. Big enough trouble that a lawsuit is filed. Grace must defend herself and her faith. Meanwhile, local pastor Reverend Dave (David A.R. White) has been subpoened by the local government. They want to look over his sermons and see just what he's preaching about. The battle lines are drawn as a vocal and secular majority takes dead aim at Christianity and those who profess to be Christians.

"God's Not Dead 2" will probably please its core audience of fundamentalist and evangelicals, but its too heavy-handed to qualify as a commercial success. The fault doesn't lie with Hart. She gives Grace a believable personality. The teacher isn't portrayed as a hero. Instead, she's an ordinary woman trying to do her job, but remain faithful to herself. It's a restrained, original performance which helps to balance some of the film's more unbelievable and fantastic moments.

The production boasts an interesting cast. Hart and White are joined by elderly pop and Christian singer Pat Boone, who plays Grace's grandpa. Jesse Metcalfe and Ray Wise are lawyers handling the case, former Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson presides over the case as the judge and Sadie Robertson from the "Duck Dynasty" clan makes an appearance as one of Grace's students.

The movie's portrayal of Christianity under attack just doesn't ring true, at least not for this country. It's a paranoid and twisted version of reality. While core supporters will leave the theater satisfied by seeing their greatest fears revealed onscreen with the requisite happy ending. However, if you're not a person of faith, it probably comes off as too simple-minded and wordy.

On my rating scale, "God's Not Dead 2" earns ONE DIAMOND.

FOUR DIAMONDS=A fantastic movie! A must see!
THREE DIAMONDS=A good movie with minor flaws.
TWO DIAMONDS=An average movie with some entertaining scenes or performances.
ONE DIAMOND=A very poor movie with few entertaining scenes or performances.
LUMP OF COAL=Skip it, it's just plain awful.

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