"Livin' It" Packs in Powerful Sports Stunts and Testimonies
- Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
- 2004 8 Aug
Release Date: June 1, 2004
Rating: Not rated
Director: Stephen Baldwin
Dude! Is this what’s going on with skateboarders and BMX bikers? Too cool. Who could have guessed that God is using this sport as an arena for such great things?
In this well-paced documentary, actor/director Stephen Baldwin (“Born on the Fourth of July,” “8 Seconds”) gives us a portrait of 11 athletes – all skaters and BMX bikers – doing their stuff on the streets and skate parks of Portland, Or. The stunts are what we’ve come to expect from super-talented kids – flips and wheelies and thingamajiggies atop railings, stairs and walls that would make anyone dizzy. Pretty impressive stuff – even the wipeouts.
Although the film doesn’t have much narration, its ongoing stunts are intercut with brief shots of Baldwin and the boys eating, joking or mugging for the camera. Baldwin laments, for example, “Anthony Carrey is a gangsta for Jesus, 70s style with a mutton chop and a Freak Daddy, Starsky & Hutch leather jacket look! Whassup with that?” The soundtrack is a series of very trendy, contemporary Christian singers – mostly rappers – including an anthem song written just for the film.
A freestyle sports film targeted directly at teens, “Livin’ It” is an inspired piece of work that is perfect for the growing number of skateboard and biking fans. The best part is its Christian message, which stays out of your face but is there, if anyone wants to see it. The main film gives increasing hints as it progresses, such as a brief scene with kids praying together and a shot of a hat that says, “Jesus Rules.” Later, one of the athletes reads from 1 Cor. 1:27-31, but without mentioning that it is from the Bible. We also hear snippets of testimonies from the boys, and the film ends with a brief encouragement for kids to “learn more,” which they can do in additional sections of the DVD.
The real heart of this project lies in the bonus features, which include everything from outtakes and trailers to a straightforward evangelistic message by skate pastor Paul Anderson, who also teaches on “the next step” for kids who have just accepted Christ (pray, tell people and find a church). An additional, inspirational documentary called “Where It All Began” is also featured in this section of the DVD.
“Where It All Began” shares how Baldwin got the idea for “Livin’ It” at the 2003 Beachfest event in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. With some 300,000 people who came to hear a dozen top Christian bands and a message by evangelist Luis Palau (whose ministry handles distribution of the film), Beachfest, Baldwin said, was exactly the sort of thing he’d been looking for since coming to Christ right after 9-11 – something “edgy with great music.” A wide variety of speakers, including head football coach of the University of Miami and the owner of the Miami Dolphins, also shared their faith as they spoke about Beachfest and why they had sponsored it.
Most interesting, however, are the testimonies included in the bonus features of “Livin’ It.” Called “Interviews with Athletes,” they reveal how the boys got their start – not only in biking, but with Jesus Christ. One teen shared how his pot-smoking landed him in a ditch before he finally reached out to God. Another shared the story of backsliding. But the best testimony of all is Baldwin’s, which moved me to tears. Who would have thought that a simple housekeeper could plant seeds that would lead a Hollywood actor and his family to Christ?
As an entertainment journalist, I regularly interview film talent and directors, and I confess that I often feel discouraged. Unlike so many, Baldwin has taken a different road, however. He’s allowed God to set him apart, and if he continues to follow Jesus Christ with the same godly zeal and passion that he displays in “Livin’ It,” I have no doubt that he will lead thousands to salvation.
Steve, you do the family proud, brother. We’re with you all the way. And your own ministry? You betcha. Stay the course, and bring it on!
- Drugs/Alcohol Content: One skater refers to “smoking weed before I got saved” but then describes ending up in a ditch, where he finally reached out to God.
- Language/Profanity: None
- Sexual Content/Nudity: None.
- Violence: A couple of falls from skateboards and bikes.