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Movie Review

WWJD: What Would Jesus Do?

MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

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Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Christian Family Drama
1 hr. 28 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 12, 2010 (festival)
May 22, 2010 (limited)
DVD: October 12, 2010
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Featuring: John Schneider (The Drifter), Michael Sabulsky (Jesus), Michael Appelbaum (Man), Mark Arnold (Alex York), more »
Director: Thomas Makowski
Producer: Nasser Group, North, NGN Productions (Canada), Nasser Entertainment Group, more »
Distributor: Phase 4 Films

“What would happen if we walked in his steps?”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “A powerful and thought-provoking story about four individuals—a singer, a newspaper editor, a wealthy philanthropist and a Minister who lost his faith—all vowing to walk in ‘the steps of Jesus.’ Every day and every decision becomes a turning point in their lives as they must ask themselves: ‘What Would Jesus Do?’

It is 2005 in Raymond California, a thriving town that is a cross section of suburban America. Reverend HENRY MAXWELL, Raymond’s local pastor, prepares to take his family on a fishing trip upstate. As they drive to the campgrounds, a tragic car accident takes place, killing Henry’s pregnant wife and young son.

The story moves to present day where we find the town of Raymond has hit on hard times. The once prosperous town is now a shadow of it’s former self. Enter ALEX YORK, an ambitious politician who wants to bring a casino to town to turn the fortunes of Raymond around. He will stop at nothing and has set his sites on the perfect place to build his casino, the grounds of Henry Maxwell’s church. York approaches the wealthy real estate tycoons in town to finance his casino.

Things change when a DRIFTER comes to town. Impassioned by the Drifter’s pleas for the poor and downtrodden, Henry and five influential parishioners set out to make a difference. Each has resolved to conduct his life according to the precepts of Christ, applying His behavior to their own lives. Will Henry and the others, simply by their own sacrifice and example, help change the minds of other townsfolk? Can they get everyone to band together andfight off the temptation of money and the easy path?

WWJD is a feature film based on one of the best selling novels of all time, In His Steps—What would Jesus Do? by Charles Sheldon. The book currently sells an average of 100,000 copies per year and is available in 26 languages around the world. It is so popular that it has never gone out of print. Over 40 Million copies have been sold, making it the second best-selling Christian book of all time, behind only the Bible itself.”

There are not many films that have I sat through and said to myself, “What a powerful film, I cannot believe what I just saw!” Very few films have been produced in which this kind of feeling occurs. As I sat, viewing this film from the comfort of my room, I realized, “What happens when the weight of the world starts falling on us?” When it happens, we need to ask ourselves one question, “What Would Jesus Do?”

This has been one of the most inspirational and most wonderful films I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. Every aspect of this movie is perfect. I am especially impressed with the fine performances of John Schneider (the drifter), Kimberley Hidalgo (Lauren, whom you also may recognize from the latest film ‘To Save A Life’), Jim Gleason (Pastor Maxwell), and Maxine Bahns (Virginia Paige). The only thing that I wasn’t impressed with was the music. At times, I felt that the music didn’t always fit the scene that was occurring, but even that did not take away from the overall appreciation I have for this film.

Objectionable Material?

There is no sex in this film, and I didn’t expect there would be. The language is very minimal, and the only word(s) that caught my attention is when Alex York (a crafty politician) calls a group of Christians, “Jesus Freaks”. The violence is also mild. At the beginning of the film, there is a car accident involving Pastor Maxwell’s wife and son (later, the pastor is seen in a hospital with injuries on head—very mild). There are, also, a couple scenes where two main characters are thrown against a fence, but this is brief and mild.

Spirtual Lessons

Life is difficult. I know when I say that you’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah!” But that’s not where I’m going. Jesus told us that being a Christian would come at a price. He stated that though our lives would be better by having Him, it did not mean that our troubles would disappear. Unfortunately, some believe that when we become Christians, our troubles will disappear and that we will never have to worry about anything. But that’s not true. In the film, we see this. We see four individuals, the world fighting against them, and, in this particular case, the church. Jesus states in John 15:20

“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (NIV).

However, though we suffer much, our suffering is not in vain. For we have Jesus Christ who will strengthen us in our trials and will carry our burdens for us. Jesus Christ died on the cross for us and carried our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. He will carry our burdens for us. The Psalmist David said…

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles” —Psalm 34:17 (NIV).

And in the words of my favorite apostle, Paul:

“Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” —2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV).

Summary and Recommendations

In short, I highly recommend this film. From a cinematic perspective, this film is incredible. There were moments I laughed. There were even moments I almost cried. This is one of the very few films that parents will not have to worry about having their children watch. Remember that when it feels like the world is against us and there’s nowhere left to turn, look to the cross and ask yourself, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. The overall moral fiber is excellent, and really makes you think about the actions you take in your daily life. Any movie that helps remind you to walk a truer Christian existence is a blessing, and this one does just that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Marie, age 30 (USA)
Neutral—Excellent morality, poor story telling. Actors are good, but something went wrong along the way, it just doesn’t work-I rate it B quality, fell asleep at the end. I wish it had been better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Deborah, age 40 (USA)
Neutral—First of all, the film has an excellent message; what if we all did what Jesus would do? How would our lives change? Could we be the difference we want to see in the world (paraphrasing Gandhi)? A homeless drifter, shunned by the townfolk, lets them know that if they truly wanted to make an impact, they should look no further than Christ Himself. The citizens are already facing a daunting task; keeping the church from being razed after it was foreclosed upon. Still, they manage to keep the faith in times of crisis.

Unfortunately, the film is not very well done. The background music is more appropriate for an action flick (the gospel music played by the musician in the film is actually quite good), the screenwriting is cliqued, and the acting is less than average, however, I liked John Schneider’s performance as the unnamed drifter. I liked the idea for the film, but the way it was carried out was not very good. It’s basically a watered-down version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” except that it isn’t centered around Christmas.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Shannon H., age 29 (USA)