PG-13 for some thematic elements.
Aug. 30, 2011
Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell, Ryan Merriman
Rocky Mountain Pictures
In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.
The 5th Quarter
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com - Based on a true story, The 5th Quarter is an emotional tale of one family’s journey through unimaginable grief.
When a tragic car accident claims the life of 15-year-old Luke Abbate (played by Stefan Guy), his family struggles with how to cope. Luke’s brother, Jon (portrayed by Ryan Merriman), is a football player at Wake Forest University and considers ending his sports career. Instead, he returns home and works with a personal trainer to ramp up his performance on the field, just as his brother would have wanted. His newfound dedication not only affects his abilities, but encourages his team, the Demon Deacons, as well.
Jon gains approval from his coach to trade his jersey for number five, the one his brother wore. In the 4th quarter of each game, he signals the number five with an outstretched hand to his family in the stands. Soon the entire team embraces the signal and “the 5th quarter” is born.
For what it is intended to be—a true-life drama about enduring difficult circumstances– the film accomplishes its purposes. It also adeptly raises awareness of the consequences of reckless driving as well as the benefits of organ donation, an issue the Abbate family struggles with after Luke’s death. It even portrays Christianity in a positive light with characters pausing to read Scripture and pray. One character questions why God would let such a bad thing happen to a good person, a question filmmakers never directly address.
The movie is also mostly family-friendly. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, there are a few instances of profanity along with characters consuming alcohol. There is also one brief medical scene that some viewers may find disturbing. But overall, the film has no offensive content.
However, it is not without its problems. Promotional materials about the movie would lead one to believe it is a film centered on football, much like Facing the Giants or The Blind Side. Those films combined the heart of the story with gripping athletics. Football fans will be disappointed by the lack of action on the field in The 5th Quarter. Most of the football scenes are simply a montage of several games that seem thrown in as an afterthought. It’s difficult to root for Wake Forest to capture wins when the game footage comes off more like sports highlights on the evening news than an overview of an entire game.
Filmmakers also rely heavily on music to tell the story. The songs used throughout the film are overpowering and intrude in the emotional scenes rather than simply setting the tone. It gives the film a made-for-TV feel suited more for The Hallmark Channel than for a theatrical release. (The 5th Quarter did have a limited theatrical release before its release on DVD by Fox Home Entertainment.)
What should be the film’s most powerful element – the story of a family nearly torn apart by grief and then brought back together – seems to get lost. Aidan Quinn and Andie MacDowell star as Luke’s parents, Steven and Maryanne Abbate. Though it is obvious that their marriage is suffering as they try to deal with their loss, it is not obvious what eventually gets them through it. Was it their faith? Was it uniting around an exciting football season? Or did time simply heal the wounds? Viewers are left to decide on their own.
The film would have been much more powerful had it clearly shown God as the ultimate source of comfort and healing.
However, even with its flaws it is still a better choice for families than many of the mainstream movies currently in theaters. It could serve as a great discussion-starter with your kids, especially those just learning to drive. Just don’t forget the tissues; it’s a tear-jerker!
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