I haven't seen Courageous. I'm pretty skeptical about it, because everyone raved about Fireproof the same way everyone is raving about Courageous, but I found that movie frustratingly cliche and trite. I could see how people could benefit from it, but it only irritated me. When I told someone that this was how I felt about seeing Courageous, they were clearly annoyed and I felt bad for being such a cynic.
It could be that Courageous is better made and I would actually enjoy it. It could be that I'm just too picky and I need to get over myself, because is it really any worse than a Lifetime movie? People continue to make and watch and enjoy those! If other people can benefit from the movie, I should probably just shut up and understand that my own preferences aren't most peoples'.
On the other hand, I feel like this run of church movies continues a problem we've had for a couple generations in American Christianity. We look at mainstream American culture and try to create our own version of it that is safely Christianized. We did it with schools, summer camps, music, books, tv stations, even political platforms. Some people are motivated by creating a safe place away from the scary secular world (can you just hear the fearful warnings against how a "secular" school will ruin your faith? ). Some people are motivated by trying to create place and medium that will expose people to Christianity. I do believe that's the motivation behind today's rash of church movies, but like most of these endeavors, I think it fails.
Who actually goes to see these movies? Christians. They don't draw in a secular audience that is exposed to Christianity and transformed. We high five each other and act like we've done a great thing by creating a movie that is in public theaters, matching the big movies. In reality, though, we've just spent a bunch of money to create a mediocre or bad movie that a bunch of Christians go see and feel warm fuzzy about our success in penetrating mainstream film.
To what end? If we encourage marriages through Fireproof, great. If we encourage men to take more responsibility through Courageous, great. It just bothers me that it seems to play into our tendency to create a Christian version of everything.
On the other hand, I would go see Blue Like Jazz. What is the difference?