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Films and TV
Alex Kendrick is a former associate pastor from Georgia (the US state), who has become a leading light of Christian filmmaking, including through his company Sherwood Pictures based in Albany, GA. He often works with his brother Stephen Kendrick.
His films tend to be received respectfully by American Christian media, and to be ignored or ridiculed by everybody else.
For avoidance of doubt, he is no relation of Oscar-nominated actor Anna Kendrick.
Films as director
Right-wing publication The Federalist summed up the brothers' ten-year film career thus: "All they actually did was introduce a new generation of Christian filmmakers to a low standard of storytelling." They noted common features of his films, such as a tendency for interminable preaching and generally telling not showing; "simplistic character archetypes"; failing to challenge their audience; and an obsession with avoiding smut or family-unfriendly material that leads to Fireproof being a film about porn addiction that never mentions pornography.
As writer-director he has made the following:
About a dodgy used car salesman who finds God one day while channel-hopping and decides to be nicer; he pays back all the customers he ripped off, and in turn they defend him when he is called a crook on TV. It starred an up-and-coming young actor by the name of Alex Kendrick. Sherwood Pictures' first production, it was made for a minimal budget, less than $20,000, with the aid of many church volunteers. There are no professional critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes as of 2019. The leading audience review on Rotten Tomatoes begins with what is presumably the most important thing about the movie: "The picture quality is a little low with a frame rate much like what you see in documentaries".
Facing the Giants (2006)
An (American) football drama where prayer is shown to be the way to footballing triumph. Kendrick plays the coach of a terrible high school football team who can't even get his wife in the family way until he embraces Jesus, becomes studly, and leads the team to triumph. God's policy on chronic traumatic encephalopathy is unclear.
It currently has a 13% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though 85% of the public (who bothered to post reviews) like it. Common Sense Media called it "overly religious" which is a bit like the Pope saying you're too Catholic; while generally positive they also criticised its "macho Christianity", which equates bravery and even sperm motility with the ability to accept Jesus as your savior. Deseret News also criticised its lack of subtlety, comparing it unfavorably to other 2006 inspirational football movies Invincible (bartender becomes Philly Eagles hero) and Gridiron Gang (The Rock coaches a youth detention center team).
A marital drama about a firefighter and his relationship with the erstwhile burning bush that is Our Lord.
About four policemen with a crisis of faith, focusing on Kendrick's cop who decides to be a better (i.e. more conservative) father to his kids. The New York Times found it "overplotted and understructured": there are reasonably good moments of "light gunplay" and comedy, but they don't integrate well with the main plot, and it's all no more than competent but way too long.
War Room (2015)
Another family drama, but featuring black people. Its message is that if you're a wife and your husband is being a jerk, it's your fault for not praying enough or in exactly the right way. Jordan Hoffman for The Guardian found it badly-lit and boring, although the editing was ok. According to Variety, it's even more religion-focused than his earlier films, with less attempt to integrate the faith stuff with an actual plot, although Variety did compare a scene of divinely-ordained diarrhea to Cary Grant-Doris Day comedy That Touch of Mink.
Even some Conservatives disliked it, with The Federalist caling it "cheesy".
Overcomer, his 6th film as director, opened in August 2019. Again, it's a sports movie, with Alex Kendrick's favorite actor, a certain Alex Kendrick, playing a high school basketball coach who transitions to coaching cross-country running (with only one runner in the school's program, the black, female, and asthmatic Hannah, played by Aryn Wright-Thomson) while his school battles with economic decline, falling rolls, and the closure of a big local employer. However, Kendrick's character teams up with a blind former cross-country runner (Thomas, played by Cameron Arnett) to coach the only cross-country runner in the program, and improbably Thomas turns out to be the asthmatic athlete's father, but that's OK because if you have vision of the Lord you don't need working eyes.
After 10 critic reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gave it 40%. Variety slammed it for "in-your-face evangelizing" and weak screenwriting, noting that the third act "features three consecutive scenes of characters asking God for guidance", and criticised the white-savior overtones of the plot (a white hero saving black people by teaching them religion). Both Nick Schager in Variety and Mark Dujsik for RogerEbert.com noted that the film starts relatively strongly before sliding into the overly churchy; Dujsik concluded his review: "Apparently, 'Overcomer' isn't for an audience that cares about being told a story. It's aimed at an audience that doesn't mind too much if a story occasionally interrupts a homily." It grossed over $17m in its first 2 weeks of release, so Kendrick probably isn't too upset.
Other film work
He also co-wrote Like Arrows, a family drama directed by Kevin Peeples. Peeples is a regular collaborator of Kendrick, as well as maker of such films as the Troy McClure-esque Birth Control: How Did We Get Here? (2013).
Alex has a tendency to act in the films he writes or directs, but has also had a few roles in other films. He played a pastor in the comedy Moms' Night Out (alongside Patricia Heaton and Sean Astin). He often seems to play men of the cloth in other people's films, which may be a result of typecasting or other filmmakers' opinions of where his acting talents lie.
He was added as narrator of a framing device in the re-cut version of Bill Muir's film The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone, which was re-edited by a bunch of Christian investors. Again, playing someone who tells a story with a strong Christian message probably didn't stretch his acting skills much.
With his brother Stephen, he wrote a non-fiction self-help book The Love Dare, related to Fireproof. Published in 2008, it has allegedly sold 3.5 million copies and spent over 130 weeks on the New York Times Paperback Advice & Misc. bestsellers list. The brothers followed it with Love Dare Day by Day (2009) and The Love Dare For Parents which is about "how can you win the heart of your child."
He has also co-written novelisations of most of his films.
- Alex Kendrick, IMDb
- ‘War Room’ Is Just As Cheesy As All Kendrick Brothers Films, The Federalist, 4 Sep 2015
- See the Wikipedia article on Flywheel (film).
- Fly Wheel, Rotten Tomatoes, accessed 8 Mar 2019
- Facing the Giants, Austin Chronicle, Nov 17, 2006
- Facing the Giants, Rotten Tomatoes, accessed 8 Mar 2019
- Facing the Giants, Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media, accessed 8 Mar 2019
- 'Facing Giants' way too preachy, Deseret News, 15 Dec 2006
- Courageous, New York Times, 3 Oct 2011.
- War Room review: shut up and pray he quits, Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian, 28 Aug 2015
- War Room, Variety, 2015
- TRAILER RELEASED FOR NEW KENDRICK BROTHERS’ FILM ‘OVERCOMER’, Facts and Trends, 1 Nov 2018
- Overcomer Review, Nick Schager, Variety, Aug 22, 2019
- Overcomer, Rotten Tomatoes, accessed Sep 2, 2019
- Overcomer Movie Review 2019, Mark Dujsik, RogerEbert.com, August 23, 2019
- Summer 2019 Box Office Ends Flat, Led By ‘Angel Has Fallen’ and ‘Good Boys’, Indiewire, Sep 1, 2019
- Alex Kendrick talks about his acting role in the faith-based comedy “Moms’ Night Out” and how a “Prayer Grid” helps him choose his projects, BeliefNet July 2013
- See the Wikipedia article on The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone.
- See the Wikipedia article on The Love Dare.
- Hit Filmmaker Alex Kendrick, Kelli Gillespie, Risen Magazine