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Movie Review

Road to Redemption

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and mild violent content

Reviewed by: Ken James

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Primary Audience:
All ages
Comedy, Action
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
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Featuring: Pat Hingle, Julie Condra, Leo Rossi, Jay Underwood, Tony Longo
Director: Robert Vernon
Producer: John Shepherd, Jason Behrman
Distributor: World Wide Pictures

Would you drive your dear ’ole granddad from Flagstaff, Arizona to Lake Redemption, Montana for $250,000? that’s the conditions “Grandpa” Nathan Tucker (Pat Hingle, “Batman Forever”, “Shaft”) sets for his sassy estranged granddaughter Amanda Tucker (Julie Condra, “Beautiful”) who, along with her live-in boyfriend Alan Fischer (Jay Underwood, “Uncle Buck”) need to come up with a quarter-of-a-mil after “borrowing” it from Amanda’s mob boss Sully Santoro (Leo Rossi II, “Analyze This”) and losing it at a bad gamble at the racetrack. Oops!

Pat Hingle and Julie Condra in “Road to Redemption”Nathan really is Amanda’s last hope at replacing the lost money. The last time she saw him was about two decades earlier. They didn’t keep in touch. In one humorous scene of mistaken identity Amanda begins kissing up to a kind elderly man at the V.A. hospital whom she believes to be her grandfather. Her sappy sweetness is sickeningly sour to the viewer who knows all too well her true colors. Yet even with this sorry display Nathan generously chooses to give Amanda what she wants, provided she drive him to his favorite fishing hole 800 miles away.

“Road to Redemption” is truly a road movie as incidents and accidents compound a simple trip. Wrong turns, following farm trucks full of feathers, break-downs (even in a new VW bug), becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere… it all happens. And all the while selfish bo Alan and mobster Vincent (Tony Longo) are humorously hot on their trail. No matter what happens on their journey, Nathan, who recently “got religion”, intends from the getgo to use this trip as a way to share his faith in Jesus with his prodigal family member. For this ailing Nathan, it’s not the fishing hole that matters, but the quality time on the road the two share together.

With a good mix of comedy, action, and beautiful scenery, “Road to Redemption” is sure to please most who will see it. A Christian audience will find it fun for the whole family and a good opportunity to open spiritual discussion with not-yet-believing family and friends. The secular world has already labeled “Road” a clearly propagandist evangelical film, and most used to typical Hollywood fare will probably agree. But what can we expect? Certainly this is a quality film with technical achievement. The gospel is presented through portions of radio-broadcast sermons Nathan listens to while on the road (Billy Graham’s “Day of Decision”), as well as the spiritual discussions he shares with Amanda. Her own personal road to redemption is bumpy but a fulfilling trip to watch. Softer audiences will even be moved to tears.

If you missed this light-hearted but potentially life-changing story at the theater, be sure to find the “Road to Redemption” on national network television in early June of 2001. And don’t miss this opportunity to reach out to a dying world.

Viewer Comments
A “Christian” movie whose 2 main characters are living together-not married… Yes, the [Christian] Grandfather did condemn their living situation. It was a good movie, maybe I’m looking for perfection. A little “silly” at times, but again, I enjoyed it.
My Ratings: [3½]
—Lee Rand, age 52

The best Christian movie I have seen. This one, unlike “Left Behind”, met Hollywood standards. There was some violence mixed with humor that may make it inappropriate for small children, but I would recommend it for ages 10 and up. I found it to be very enjoyable and funny and a movie you can take non-Christians to. It had a Christian message but wasn’t rammed down your throat. I was very pleased. Even the local reviewer gave it 2 stars and he hates Christians.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Bill Bagot, age 35

At the beginning of the movie, I thought it was a bit “slapstick”. But as the movie progressed, I found myself pleasantly amused by the comedy script, and completely impressed by the way “Grandpa” lived out his Christianity in a real and loving way. No strong-arm hell fire and brimstone preaching, just everyday life lived out by prayer, patience, love and a genuine concern for the unsaved condition of a loved one. I got the message—money is not the answer, and love conquers all. I will definitely tell everyone I know not to miss seeing this awesome family movie!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Paul Leon, age 44

I saw this movie at a preview for college students, and I hate to say this about a movie with such good intentions, but I sincerely hope this is not the best Christians can come up with. The script never rises above sitcom-level humor—it was put together by a writer from Hollywood, as a producer at the screening told us, so maybe we CAN blame Hollywood for this? Are we supposed to laugh about people getting hurt senselessly? The only character I even cared about slightly was the grandfather, and that was only because I would feel bad degrading a messenger of the Gospel. Otherwise, the movie just didn’t have a point for being made. The Gospel message felt very tacked-on, and, although the cinematography was fairly good, the things that go on in front of the camera are horribly inane. The jokes are all lame attempts at slapstick comedy or rip-offs of already over-used one-liners. I don’t like to laugh just because someone fell down or got smacked in the face, I like intelligent wit. You could say, well, then this isn’t the movie for you, but all of my friends, who all share a broad taste in movies, agreed with me that we would be embarrassed to use this movie as a witnessing tool. I suppose little kids could be entertained by the slapstick comedy, but should we really be teaching them that violence is funny? I am sure that there are Christians out there just itching to make an intelligent movie that doesn’t just leave out the BAD stuff, but that actually contains substance. I urge you not to support this mediocre movie—for clean comedies, start with “The Hudsucker Proxy” or “That Thing You Do”! Or hey, go crazy, and rent Buster Keaton!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 1]
—Mike, age 19

I saw this movie in Austin, Texas on March 3, 2001. This was the best movie I’ve ever seen. Everyone needs to take their friends and families to see this movie. You will walk away refreshed with the spirit of Jesus!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Kelli, age 38
Movie Critics

“…for those who know the Lord, or are open to straightforward spiritual Truth, this film delivers on its promise. Not only by offering a clear road to redemption, but by tendering one of the wittiest, smartest, most-colorful scripts to come out of the Christian community in a long, long time…
—“Plugged In”, Focus on the Family

“…tech results are relatively strong, with attractive use of desert locations and, most notably, Vernon’s fluid freeing-up of the camera…
—Scott Foundas, Variety

“…the feel-good, After-School Special storyline is, to mix religious metaphors, as unremarkable and plain as an Amish dinner ensemble…
—Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

“…an entertaining way to introduce people to the serious message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It deserves the Church’s full support…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide