Release Date: February 6, 2015
Run Time: 112 min.
Director: Malcolm Goodwin
Cast: Cameron Palatas, Dalpre Grayer, Alexandria Deberry, Lawrence Saint-Victor
It’s unfortunate, but Christian movies have something of a reputation. The films are often more sermon than story, and given their niche audience, they usually don’t have the same budget or creative talent as their secular counterparts. Pass the Light, from Vision Vehicle Productions and DigiNext, goes a long way in confirming these stereotypes. With its exaggerated story and valiant but ultimately sub-par acting, the film could easily have gone unnoticed in the sea of family-friendly entertainment. Yet surprisingly, Pass the Light manages to pull itself out of the background by tackling some serious questions with a grace and poise that’s to be admired.
The movie centers around 17 year old Steve Bellafiore (Cameron Palatas), a high school senior and committed Christian who is passionate about his faith. Steve's hometown has recently fallen on hard times; a recession has hit, and many people, including Steve's father, are out of work. So when a fast-talking politician enters the scene promising to return the jobs, he's greeted with overwhelming support. Steve, however, is shocked to hear him using the Gospel to hate and marginalize the people of his community. Refusing to let this message go unchallenged, Steve decides to run for Congress while dedicating his campaign to the principles of grace and charity.
From the beginning, Pass the Light follows a fairly predictable storyline. The audience knows that despite the absurdity of Steve's movement (which actually calls itself "The Force"), it will continue to find support in lovable outcasts until it becomes a world-changing event. For a Christian film this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does rob the message of its passion. Steve himself also comes across as a little too perfect, always finding the right answer after a quick prayer to God. It's nice for movies to give young Christians good role models, but at least try to make them believable.
For all its melodrama though, Pass the Light is actually full of surprises. Where most Christian movies choose to shy away from contentious issues, Pass the Light embraces them with both love and understanding. For example, at one point in the film, Steve's crush admits she is not a virgin. Though the specific details are never given, it does allow the character to talk about how the experience affected her relationship with other Christians. It’s a stirring reminder of how even the best of us are not immune to sin.
Pass the Light even dares to touch on the subject of homosexuality. One of Steve's friends is revealed to be gay, and though Steve clearly does not affirm his sexuality, he does recognize how the Church has mistreated him in the past. It's this willingness to bring tough questions to the table that makes Pass the Light stand out as more than just another family-friendly movie. It provides Christians with valuable talking points, and instead of spoon-feeding the answers to the viewer, encourages them to seek truth and study God's word. Above all, it emphasizes compassion over political victories.
While Pass the Light may never achieve the same level of popularity as movies like God's Not Dead, it is still a film worth watching. With its focus on compassion, perseverance, and choosing actions over words, this inspiring movie will encourage Christians to step beyond their comfort zones.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):
- Language/Profanity: The word “Tramp” is spray-painted on a girl’s locker,
- Drinking/Drugs: None
- Violence: Steve is bullied by a popular athlete who likes to push people around, other kids are shown to be bullied.
- Sex/sexuality: Teens date one another, a girl admits to premarital sex and how it was a mistake, a man admits he is gay and is briefly shown hugging another man.
- Religion/Morals: The majority of the town is Christian, Steve attends a Christian school, people attend church, Steve is shown praying; Steve tells his friend he enjoys going to church; The Force works to help members of their community, a political candidate talks about spiritual warfare.
*This article first published 2/6/2015