Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Grace Card (Review)

Editor's Note: The Grace Card opens on February 25, 2011 across the country. 

Everything can change in an instant ... and take a lifetime to unravel.

When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God ... and just about everyone else.

Mac's rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he's partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man.

Mac's home life is as frightening as anything he encounters on the streets of Memphis. Money is tight and emotions run high as he constantly argues with his wife and his surviving son Blake, who is hanging with the wrong crowd and in danger of flunking out of school.

Sam Wright also never expected to be a police officer. He has a calling—to be a minister like his Grandpa George. But leading a small, start-up church doesn't always put enough food on the table for a young family, so Sam doubles as a police officer. With his new promotion to Sergeant, Sam starts questioning if his real calling might actually be police work rather than the pastorate.

Can Mac and Sam somehow join forces to help one another when it's impossible for either of them to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one?

Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God's grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD ... and never underestimate the power of God's love.

What I Thought
Everything starts with grace - especially a movie with a purpose.

The Grace Card is one such movie.

Written and directed by David Evans, a Memphis-based eye doctor, the film contains a variety of themes including grace, forgiveness and reconciliation. 

When the film opens on Feb. 25, Evans expects that more than 20,000 people will have had a chance to "preview" the film in special screenings like the one I attended before Christmas in Rogers, Ark.

The screening gave me (and a theater full of people) a chance to see the first film project produced by Evans, a Bentonville High School grad. It also included a Q&A where Evans and his wife, Esther, shared some of the experiences surrounding the making of The Grace Card.

While the movie is fiction, Evans said the story of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation, resonates with people who have viewed it. Many attending the pre-screenings strongly identified with the story. At one screening, a woman left the film saying she was moved to forgive the person who killed her child 15 years earlier.

Shot in Memphis, with primarily volunteer actors, the film has a gritty, yet authentic feel. Anchoring it with acting talents of Louis Gossett, Jr.(Grandpa George) gave the film an extra "umph."

For a faith-based film, The Grace Card isn't hokey. It is solid, will hold your interest and will make you think.

The Grace Card will definitely open discussions on forgiveness and reconciliation - and the need for grace in all aspects of our lives - especially when we least expect or think we need it.

I will say, based upon the subject matter and some of the story lines, this film is probably best for at least middle school and above. Younger students could probably watch it alongside their parents - but some parental discussion will be needed to help them process what they see.

A Q&A With The Director, David Evans
THE GRACE CARD is directed by David Evans, a story in himself. At 42, Evans, a Memphis optometrist, is a veteran producer of Calvary Church’s large-scale musical passion plays. The following Q&A was provided by the movie publicists.

David, you’re a medical professional, a left-brain career if ever there was one. You’re a 15-year-plus veteran of directing large-scale musical productions. Now you’re a film writer and director—right-brained activities. What’s up with that? 

I definitely feel called to be an eye doctor, but if you ask my wife, my true passion is acting and producing.  First in high school and college, then creating the passion plays.

Most people want to make a difference somehow. I want to make a difference as a Christian. True joy comes with seeing what the passion plays or this move will do to change lives, to show hope, to show people a new door to peace. Or in the case of THE GRACE CARD, to find forgiveness.

Where did THE GRACE CARD story originate?  

As a doctor, you’re also a counselor of sorts. People share stories. I’ve got patients who are on the Memphis police force, and I learned things that informed the story.

They helped me see their world, and I wanted to take that and maybe help people see the world as it really is—a world where grace exists. 

What inspired you to write this particular story?  

I like to do things to grab people by the heart. My father was a minister, and I actually knew a man who was a police officer and a pastor. It occurred to me, “Wouldn’t it be great to show this real life struggle in this real place?  To show faith at work in family life, race issues, work issues?” 

Is Memphis a character in this film? 

It really is. I couldn’t imagine the story set anywhere else, as so many Civil Rights-related incidents have occurred in Memphis. And I’ve always been around that, having grown up in the South. That’s where my heart is. There are so many landmarks, the Pyramid, the river. Even the score has a bluesy feel to it.

Many people associated with THE GRACE CARD say the story drew them to the project. More than one said one look at your script and they knew they wanted to be a part of it. What is it about this story?  

Nothing in this story makes you feel that it’s all just bright colors, a pretty portrait that couldn’t really happen. This is real, gritty, true. It’s a realistic portrayal of everyday life. Everyone—regardless of background, income, social status, beliefs—deals every day with problems. Every day. Everyone. That’s part of the power behind THE GRACE CARD. 

Who will enjoy THE GRACE CARD? What age groups? What ranges of interest? 

That’s just it, everyone will—from pre-teen to adults. I have to say again, it’s a real-life story with action, conflict, and faith in the midst of challenges everyone can relate to. 

Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. plays the role of a wise mentor in THE GRACE CARD. Take us through your emotions when you got your script in an Oscar-winner’s hand and got a “Yes” back from him in days.

I was encouraged by some other faith-based filmmakers who said, “You really need to get a name actor in your movie.” Most roles were filled, but not the mentor role. Lou Gossett came to mind.

Then I looked at his web site and discovered his commitment to using his position to end racism. I thought, “This has be a God thing.” I tracked down his agent in 24 hours and, initially, there was no interest. But I asked him to at least look at the screenplay because I thought it hit at the center of what Lou is trying to do with his life. Two days later the agent called back and said, “I think he’s going to like this.” And I can truly say about Lou’s performance, he nailed it.

Let’s talk about your cast and crew. You’ve got a wonderful team, ranging from Hollywood professionals to local volunteers. 

 I truly believe we have a new level of acting in faith-based films. We reached out to every church in Memphis, whoever wanted to send people in to audition. More than 50 churches sent people in.

We opened up the door to any Christian who wanted to be a part of the project. Plus, we had more than 300 volunteers from Calvary Church who had helped on the passion plays and joined us on THE GRACE CARD.

About The Movie
The Grace Card is the first movie from Memphis-based Graceworks Pictures in conjunction with Calvary Pictures.

Inspired by and modeled after Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry that created Fireproof, this faith-based film brings together Church and Hollywood—Memphis' Calvary Church working alongside veteran screenwriter Howard A. Klausner (Space Cowboys) and award-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr. (Grandpa George).

Graceworks is the vision of Dr. David Evans, an optometrist in Memphis, who directed and serves as the executive producer of THE GRACE CARD. Calvary Pictures is a ministry of Calvary, a Church of the Nazarene led by Pastor Lynn Holmes in Cordova, Tenn.

Note: As someone who works in a church ministry, I was provided a ticket to a "pre-screening" for The Grace Card. This review was not influenced by the ticket - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for your sharing the news about The Grace Card movie that releases to theaters today (2/25/2011)!

    Very quickly, I wanted to let you know about THE GRACE CARD app released on Facebook last weekend! This app provides you and your fans/friends the opportunity to share an exclusive 5-minute clip of the movie with their friends!

    Please feel free to share this information/links on your blog as well:
    "WATCH an exclusive 5-minute clip from the The Grace Card movie's FACEBOOK page before it opens in theaters across the nation next Friday, 2/25/2011!"

    1. DIRECT LINK to app:
    2. Link to Grace Card fan page:


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