PG-13 for sexual references and thematic elements.
Jan. 9, 2009
Morris Chestnut, Cannon Jay, Eddie Cibrian, Kwame Boateng, Maeve Quinlan
Brian Bird (II)
BASED ON THE NOVEL BY:
T. D. Jakes
Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Releasing
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Not Easily Broken
By Belinda Elliott
- Imagine a chick flick told from the male’s point of view. The new film Not Easily Broken actually pulls this off pretty well. The movie, which is based on the novel by Pastor T. D. Jakes, is a romantic drama. Think Tyler Perry’s Madea movies meet the evangelical Christian film Fireproof – sort of.
The story follows the lives of Dave (Morris Chestnut, The Game Plan) and Clarice Johnson (Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), a couple in their second decade of marriage. Dave runs a small construction business, something he began after an injury in college dashed his dreams of playing major league baseball. Clarice is a very successful real estate agent and is enjoying all the trappings of their very comfortable lifestyle. However, in her quest to rise to the top of her career, she begins to ignore her husband’s needs, most notably, his desire to be a father.
While Clarice spends all of her energy chasing success at work, Dave spends his free time mentoring a group of inner city kids and hanging out with his buddies at the gym. The couple’s already deteriorating relationship begins to crumble even more after Clarice is seriously injured in a car wreck and her meddling mother (Jenifer Lewis, Madea’s Family Reunion) moves in to oversee her daughter’s rehabilitation. Because of her own troubled past with men, she is quick to encourage her daughter to turn away from her husband when the relationship becomes strained.
Add to the mix attractive single mom, Julie Sawyer (Maeve Quinlan) who becomes Clarice’s physical therapist (and attracts the attention of a husband looking for someone to appreciate him) and the couple’s marital bonds are put to the ultimate test.
Not Easily Broken flows nicely and moves along at a steady pace with a few humorous scenes along the way (mostly supplied by Kevin Hart (Fool’s Gold) as one of Dave’s close friends, Tree). Hart is a great fit for the role as are all of the cast members.
Henson, most recently known for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, gives another solid performance here. Likewise, Chestnut proves again that he has what it takes to shine as a leading man in Hollywood. T.D. Jakes himself also makes an appearance in a minor role during one scene.
This movie has plenty of good messages for families. The movie’s opening scene depicts Dave and Clarice’s wedding where their pastor warns them that it is often “hard to keep the good even in a good marriage.” Life will try to knock them down, he says, so he instructs them that God is to be the third member of their marriage because as Scripture advises, “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Because the story is told from the male character’s point of view, the film also offers some valuable commentary on the God-given roles of men. Men were created to be heroes, Dave tells us through narration. But as time has progressed, “the world took away man’s reason for being a man,” he says, “and it turned the world upside down.” He also uses his role as a mentor to teens to encourage other fathers to be the best dads they can be. His conversations with his gym buddies also offers women a rare glimpse into how men really feel about their relationships.
These messages are mixed in with other occasional spiritual nuggets of truth, like when Dave compares the church to a hospital where people go to get well. Throughout the entire film, in fact, faith is portrayed very positively. However, despite the film’s Bible-based messages, it is important to note that this is not a “Christian” film. It is rated PG-13 for sexual references and thematic elements, and it includes several instances of profanity.
Undoubtedly, some will criticize the filmmakers’ choice to include profanity in the film. Some would argue though, that the character’s language merely depicts the characters' real-life circumstances and their culture.
Regardless, the film’s point about the importance of faith in our lives and our relationships clearly shines through. It will also most likely reach an audience that would never dare to watch a “Christian” film like Fireproof, and that’s a good thing.
For me, the film’s redeeming message far outweighs any negative elements that it contains. But that’s a decision individual moviegoers will have to make on their own.
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