Critics Sneer at ‘American Underdog,’ Faith-Based Audiences

Modern movie critics are not attracted to faith-based films. The filmmakers responsible are partially to blame.

Although the genre was relatively young in Hollywood it began with enthusiasm, energy, and very little creativity. That often meant meandering performances, uber-low budgets and stories that spoke to the faithful…while driving everyone else away.

That’s starting to change.

It’s solid Christian food like Risen, The Chosen, You Can Only ImagineGet it now American UnderdogThis mature genre shows the evolution.

This is how you can get your movie critics to agree.

Their faith-friendly meals are still being consumed as though nothing has changed. They reveal a lot about themselves by doing this.



American Underdog suggests some critics are open minded, though, to the category’s growth. The Warner biopic has a solid 75 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, for example.

The A.V. Club, eager to mock content that doesn’t recite the far-Left hymnal, gives begrudging credit to American Underdog.

Some outlets still insist that faith-based movies are not worthy of being screened in a cinemaplex.

The aggressively liberal Indiewire film website is savaged American Underdog, the true story of Kurt Warner’s remarkable rise from grocery store clerk to Super Bowl MVP. The review begins here, and almost every sentence is filled with disdain.

This is the incredible story of a man large and tall who loved football. [emphasis added] and — thanks to his enduring faith in Jesus Christ — never gave up on his dream of playing it for enormous sums of money, Andrew and Jon Erwin’s “American Underdog” doesn’t quite sell the “against the odds” angle promised by its title.

Do you think this review is fair?

No. Even worse.

Along the way we get a gratuitous slam against Rep. Lauren Boebert and an ugly attack on actor Adam Baldwin for the sin of being conservative (the review dubs him an “ass hat”). HiT does not hesitate to criticize actors for their political opinions.



This critic loathes the genre regardless of its quality or lack thereof.

Like so many of the faith-based biopics that have helped turn the genre into a flyover-state phenomenon, “American Underdog” is sustained by a vaguely fetishistic enthusiasm for its subject’s hardships (in this case: poverty, tornadoes, and a wife whose devotion to Jesus Christ is only surpassed by her devotion to bad wigs)

The site then savages the filmmakers behind the project – Christians brothers Jon and Andy Erwin.

Telling stories that emphasize general hardships over religious persecution and keep the God talk at a low whisper until the third act, the Erwins tend to eschew the Newsmax crowd in favor of Trojan horsing their way onto the godless screens of America’s multiplexes, and “American Underdog” is the duo’s most agnostic bid for mainstream success thus far.

Just imagine a similar attack on Muslim or Jewish filmmakers… and yet that review is kind compared to what the Austin Chronicle uncorked. It’s worth noting that while the Erwins are Christians attracted to stories interlocking with faith, their newest film is far from a sermon.

The film barely mentions Christianity.

That’s it! Austin ChronicleCritic, who apparently saw a completely different film American Underdog. The film’s hero embraces “a near-unwavering faith in God each step of the way,” says the review.

The review ends by attacking the sport of football as well as suggesting Warner’s career arc is far from biopic worthy (even after admitting it’s “the stuff of legend”) and that the Hall of Famer held “dubious aspirations.”

American Underdog is frighteningly obsessed with the synthetic thrills and religion of professional sports, which many think has lost touch of its fundamental values. American may be underdog, but it is not the only one.

Reviews of movies are subjective in nature. Movie critics can express whatever opinions they like about any film. You’d think, though, that a measure of fairness would be the objective along with guiding readers to the best films possible.

Are the reviews mentioned in this article meeting either of these criteria?

It is a credit to the faith-based film genre for moving beyond its crude origins. While many critics recognize the development, a small number of them insist that it is not worthy of being considered a film genre.

[Cross-posted from Hollywood In Toto]

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