As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Brian loves sports-related movies. So, needless to say, over the years we’ve seen a ton of them, and added quite a few to our family’s movie collection. Our favorites are definitely the ones that are based on real life events (think: Rudy or Hoosiers).
Brian’s mom passed away last week, and the very next day I received an offer to view an exclusive sneak peek at Woodlawn (which is opening in theaters this Friday, October 16th). I thought it would be a great way to sit down together and relax for a while, and get our minds off the present. Woodlawn transported us back to the early 70’s (when we were both just little!) and told a tale that is well-worth sharing . . .
A gifted high school football player must learn to boldly embrace his talent and his faith as he battles racial tensions on and off the field in WOODLAWN, a moving and inspirational new film based on the true story of how love and unity overcame hate and division in early 1970s Birmingham, Ala.
Tony Nathan (newcomer Caleb Castille) lands in a powder keg of anger and violence when he joins fellow African-American students at Woodlawn High School after its government-mandated desegregation in 1973. The Woodlawn Colonels football team is a microcosm of the problems at the school and in the city, which erupts in cross burnings and riots, and Coach Tandy Geralds (Nic Bishop) is at a loss to solve these unprecedented challenges with his disciplinarian ways.
It’s only when Hank (Sean Astin), an outsider who has been radically affected by the message of hope and love he experienced at a Christian revival meeting, convinces Coach Geralds to let him speak to the team that something truly remarkable begins to happen. More than 40 players, nearly the entire team, black and white, give their lives over to the “better way” Hank tells them is possible through following Jesus, and the change is so profound in them it affects their coach, their school and their community in ways no one could have imagined.
The Colonels make a run at the state playoffs led by Nathan, who becomes a Birmingham sports superstar and attracts the attention of legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant (Jon Voight). It’s the miracle, Hank says, of what happens when God shows up.
WOODLAWN stars Sean Astin (RUDY, THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY, MOM’S NIGHT OUT), Nic Bishop (COVERT AFFAIRS, BODY OF PROOF), CALEB CASTILLE (in his feature film debut), C. Thomas Howell (THE OUTSIDERS, RED DAWN), Sherri Shepherd (THE VIEW, PRECIOUS) and Academy-Award winner JON VOIGHT (COMING HOME, ALI, NATIONAL TREASURE). It is directed by The Erwin Brothers (OCTOBER BABY, MOM’S NIGHT OUT) from a script by Jon Erwin and Quinton Peeples and is produced by Kevin Downes (MOM’S NIGHT OUT, FAITH OF OUR FATHERS). Roma Downey and Mark Burnett (THE BIBLE, SON OF GOD) are executive producers.
Heidi Says . . .
This was, beyond a doubt, one of THE BEST football movies that I have ever seen (and trust me when I say I’ve seen a lot!)
In addition to being a story about racism and one community’s journey to overcome it through football, it’s also a story of change (and how difficult that can be), hatred, unity, and (most importantly of all) faith.
I love this little snippet from the production notes:
“People who love football will look at this movie and say, ‘Wow, that really happened,’ ” Astin adds. “And they will look at this moment in time and they will not be able to deny that a group of people, inspired by their circumstance and the leadership of some in their community, fell hard into their faith, and it worked for them.”
If Astin’s right and that is the reaction of moviegoers, then Andy Erwin says he and his brother will have done justice to the story they first heard in their beds as little boys.
“If we capture even a little of the magic of the true story,” he says, “it’s going to be a movie that profoundly changes lives.”
Executive Producer Mark Burnett agrees.
“Jon and Andy Erwin have made a special film,” he says, “one that will make you stand and cheer and bring you to your knees in tears.”
To that, I saw a big AMEN!
Trust me when I say you’re going to want to head out and see this movie. Why not make plans for this weekend?
***This post made possible by Grace Hill Media.***