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Grace Card, The (DVD Review)

7 Aug, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 8/16/11
Sony Pictures
Box Office $2.4 million
$30.99 DVD
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and thematic elements.
Stars Michael Joiner, Michael Higgenbottom, Louis Gossett Jr.

As an avowed agnostic, watching faith-based movies ranks right up there on the “fun” meter with getting a prostate exam. When watching a movie I want to be entertained, not sermonized.

Yet low-budget movie The Grace Card — a first-time filmmaking effort by director David Evans working with unknown actors (with the exception of Louis Gossett Jr. in a cameo) and supported by members of Calvary Churches in Memphis, Tenn. — produces a compelling, minimally preachy story about human weakness, racism and forgiveness.

Christian comic Michael Joiner plays Mac, a veteran Memphis cop whose rising bigotry and self-loathing stem from the hit-and-run death of his first son by a black drug dealer 17 years earlier.

Unable to control his simmering rage has cost Mac a relationship with his second son — who is about to be kicked out of private high school — and promotions at work, and has resulted in not much more than a perfunctory relationship with his wife.

Things get worse when younger black cop and part-time pastor Sam Wright (excellent newcomer Michael Higgenbottom) is promoted to sergeant over Mac, who then is forced to partner with him in the interim.

Mac, whose contempt for his partner is palpable, tests upbeat and jovial Sam’s belief in forgiveness and understanding of those who do not like you almost immediately.

That message is underscored by aging Gossett Jr. playing Sam’s uncle, a retired minister, and then put to the test when tragedy strikes Mac’s remaining child and imploding family.

While the story and drama never stray beyond that of a typical afterschool TV special, Joiner and Higgenbottom carry the movie with heartfelt emotion — typically found manufactured in reality TV.

To be sure, The Grace Card has plenty of faith-based messages — some that actually hit home.

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