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The Potential Inside: Not Your Father’s Christian Film

In the age of gratuitous Hollywood sex and violence it’s not surprising that people are starved for family-friendly entertainment. This is not just a matter of opinion.  Movieguide, the world’s premier pro-family movie magazine, has established over and again with its annual Report to the Entertainment Industry that wholesome entertainment sells… big time.

The report has determined, through painstaking research and statistical analysis, that movies with “high Christian, moral, biblical, theological, spiritual, production, aesthetic, and entertainment principles, values, and standards do much better than those movies consistently violating those principles, values, and standards.”

So why is it that we see so few pro-family and Christian-themed movies coming out of mainstream Hollywood? Needless to say, the profound lack of such cinema at the box office has left a vacuum that can and should be filled.   

Still, let’s admit it. Over the years Christian movies, for the most part, have been pretty bad. It’s not for a lack of good intentions, substance or commitment to the project. Instead, the undeniable “B” quality most Christian films can’t seem to get past is usually due to limited resources, a small budget and all-around inexperience from cast to crew.

That’s why when I was invited to attend a pre-screening of the pro-family, Red Cloud Productions film The Potential Inside — to be released on DVD released on DVD April 19, 2011 — I lugged along a bit of baggage. Honestly, my expectations were rather low. Suffice it to say — and I’m thrilled to report — that after watching the film, those low expectations were not only exceeded, they were summarily dashed.

The movie’s Web site (www.thepotentialinside.com) summarizes the film as a “riveting action packed drama that takes you inside the never before seen world of Elite Bicycle Racing. Filled with spectacular race scenes through some of the most treacherous courses on the East Coast of the United States THE POTENTIAL INSIDE (emphasis original) is a powerfully moving and compelling drama that examines the heart and soul of a true champion.” 

The synopsis continues: “Reeling with grief in the wake of a tragic automobile accident, retired veteran cyclist, Chris Carmik, is given an opportunity he doesn’t want, to train a rookie cycling prodigy. Preoccupied with battling his own inner demons, Chris reluctantly acclimates the prodigy, named Jake, to the fast paced world of Bicycle Racing.

“Using cutting edge technology and scientific training methods, Chris transforms Jake into a top contending cyclist; however, he struggles to teach Jake the most important lesson prominent in all champions — finding THE POTENTIAL INSIDE.”

Several things about the film quickly caught my attention. First, the production value: The movie’s soundtrack and many heart-pumping action sequences were simply state of the art. The quality of cinematography rivaled that of any high-dollar Hollywood production I’ve seen. This was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise.

Next, the acting: It was good — really good. I found myself immediately identifying with the film’s very believable characters. Whereas Christian films I’d seen in the past seemed to force dialogue and follow predictable formulas of character development, The Potential Inside featured very real people experiencing very real emotions and circumstances.  

Finally, the story: I was immediately sucked-in. It’s rich with adrenaline-laced sports action for the fellows, coupled with a deeply inspiring and moving base-plot for the entire viewing audience. (Warning: bring your tissue. You too, guys. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.)

The Potential Inside has the stuff. It’s what Americans have been clamoring for: Wholesome, pro-family entertainment combined with the high-tech, quality production value we’ve come to expect from A-list motion pictures.

Most importantly, though, it has the real stuff — the stuff today’s postmodern box office sorely lacks: Transcendent truth; the love of Christ; and a roadmap down the narrow path to eternal redemption and salvation.      

We have a new generation of Christian filmmakers in Red Cloud Productions. And they’ve launched the next generation of Christian films with The Potential Inside. See it. You’ll be glad you did.


Matt Barber is Director of Cultural Affairs with both Liberty Counsel and Liberty Alliance Action. He also co-hosts the nationally syndicated “Liberty Live” talk radio program on AFR Talk.
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  • You write: “This is not just a matter of opinion. Movieguide, the world’s premier pro-family movie magazine, has established over and again with its annual Report to the Entertainment Industry that wholesome entertainment sells… big time.”

    Movieguide is very much an opinion publication, given to the premise that if there’s immoral conflict in the movie (explicitly portrayed or not) it must be bad for families. Unfortunatly what publisher and chief editor, Ted Baehr, and his volunteer reviewers have trouble defining are the terms “wholesome” and “entertainment.” Their rating system which is based heavily on subjective factors (as well as counting the swear words, acts of violence, and implied sex inside or outside of marriage), favors movies for the 5-8 year old set. They have frequently given negative ratings to some of the most redeeming films to be produced, and which have scored big at the box office because such movies can communicate truth about the human condition and the way to redemption. I’ll predict that MovieGuide will give WARRIOR a significant negative rating in spite of it’s deeply redemptive, Christian meaning. MovieGuide is also blind to Catholic Truth where is diverges from their opinion of what Christianity should or should not be.

    As you point out, inbetween the lines, what some Christian movie reviewers are likely to rate as “wholesome” would never pass as “entertainment.” And the box office agrees.

    More than one “Christian” actor, as a matter of “conscience” will not portray characters that are immoral. Sorry, but without immoral conflict in any story (and please include the Bible) there is NO story. There is NO moral lesson to be learned. Because without immoral conflict (yes, even explicitly portrayed) there is nothing to learn or teach from the consequences of such behavior.

    Movies are simulations that have the potential to draw audience members into a movie and “identify” with the characters, helping them to make the moral decisions that drive the drama forward. When “Christian” filmmakers remove the mechanics of that “identity” they also remove the adrenalin rush that imbues the cause and effect into a person’s memory.

    I wrote an important essay on this subject, which was published by Catholic Lane’s editor Mary Kochan when she was at another website. It may be instructive, still: The Good of Conflict and Immorality in Movies (http://moralpremise.blogspot.com/2011/06/good-of-conflict-and-immorality-in.html).