Zach Truett is a high school quarterback with a big smile and a strong arm.
He’s also a confident young man who believes his football talent is his ticket out of the small town, Bessemer, that is home to so many bad memories.
His mother died in that small town. His father, an alcoholic, abandoned them there.
Zach and his brother, Dave, live alone under the watchful eye of a surrogate mother. Each day is a fight for survival.
“I’m gonna get that scholarship. I’m gonna get us out of here,” Zach tells his brother.
But when Zach gets injured, his plans for a brighter future take a turn, and he is faced with questions about God and life that he’s been ignoring.
The faith-based film Run the Race (PG) opens this weekend, telling the story of two brothers—one a skeptic (Zach), the other a Christian (Dave)—who must depend on one another, instead of their parents, during life’s trials.
The film was executive produced by Tim and Robby Tebow and stars Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump) as Coach Hailey; Frances Fisher (Unforgiven) as their surrogate mother, Louise; Tanner Stine (NCIS) as Zach; and Evan Hofer (Kickin It) as Dave.
Run the Race is a sports-themed movie—All-Pro Dad and the National Coalition of Ministries to Men are partners—but the story is for a broader audience. It has a love angle. (Zach’s girlfriend, Ginger, is a Christian). It has a faith angle. It has a tragedy angle. Above all, it’s uplifting.
It also has a different feel to it. It’s believable. Let’s put it this way: I watch dozens of Christian movies each year. This is one of the best I’ve seen.
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)
Minimal. We see high school boys throw punches in a fight. We see a character have a seizure.
Other Positive Elements
Coach Hailey is the type of coach you’d want leading your own children. He cares for Zach. He even says a few pointed words to Zach’s father, urging him to become the dad Zach needs.
Ginger’s family, particularly her father, handle Zach’s skepticism about faith with grace. It’s a model for all Christians.
Other Stuff You Might Want To Know
Characters drink. One or two scenes take place in a bar. The interaction between Zach and his father might trouble young viewers. “You’re some guy that walked out on us when mom died,” Zach tells him. Zach refuses to acknowledge him as family.
A character dies.
Run the Race is packed with life and biblical lessons. Among them: Support and encourage one another (Zach and Dave); invest in someone’s life (Dave, Coach Hailey); and display grace and mercy to unbelievers (Ginger and her family). The film’s themes of overcoming tragedy, loving your brother, and forgiving and reconciling also resonate.
Scripture tells us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and to display humility, gentleness and patience in our interactions with others (Ephesians 4:2). But we’re often too busy to get involved. Other times, we’re more interested in winning an argument than winning our friends and relatives to Christ.
Run the Race shows how an investment in someone’s life can end — with that person coming to faith. It takes patience and humility. Sometimes, it even takes teamwork.
The script and the ending.
Acting is another bright spot. I didn’t find a weak link among the cast.
The football action is impressive, too. It looks real.
The actors don’t always look like high school-aged kids.
- Why didn’t Zach accept his father as a family member? What changed his mind?
- Should Ginger have dated Zach?
- How did Zach and Dave react differently to life’s trials? Why did they react differently?
- What did Dave and Ginger do to encourage and walk alongside Zach?
- Is there a “Zach” in your life who needs encouraging — and who needs to hear about Christ?
Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Run the Race is rated PG for thematic content and some teen partying.