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Mercy Rule

Family / Drama
2014 / 118 minutes
Rating: 7/10

There’s a lot of baseball in it, but the moral of Mercy Rule is more along the lines of what Congressman  Dick Armey once said:

“If you want the government to get off your back, you’ve got to get your hands out of its pocket.”

The Miller family has been in the scrap metal recycling business for generations. John Miller (Kirk Cameron) works hard during the week, and on Saturdays the whole family heads down to the local ball field, where the young narrator, son Cody, dreams of baseball greatness. Cody wants to be the pitcher, but the coach isn’t just going to hand it to him.

His dad John wants to expand their business, but makes a terrible mistake. The government offers to just hand him a subsidy, and he falls for it. In applying for the subsidy, John has to sign off on statements that say his company handle hazardous wastes. They don’t, but that’s what he needs to say to get this subsidy.

His moment of dishonesty costs him when a local lobbyist, with the help of the local government, pulls a bait and switch, changing up the subsidy offer into a demand for the Miller scrapyard to meet all sorts of new “safety” requirements that come with handling hazardous wastes. And if John can’t pay for the new compliance requirements, then the City is going to come for his business. To make matters worse, his brother and business partner Ben (played by Christian comedian Tim Hawkins) knew better than to sign up for the subsidy, and boy oh boy is he going to be angry that John still went ahead.

So it’s a repentant and chagrinned John Miller who turns to his brother, his family, and his whole community for help in a fight for his business.

And on the field, Cody Miller is learning lessons of his own about what it means to be a good teammate, helping others and the whole team succeed even when it comes at the cost of his own personal success.

Mercy Rule is a great Christian sports film that also has a serious dose of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with John Miller trying to pull off the unthinkable: he’s trying to beat City Hall.


No sex, violence, or language concerns. If I was trying to find a caution it might be that the baseball coach seems a over the top but his over-reaction might just be a statement on how parents can make sports way too important.


This is a pretty good movie, and Christian viewers will enjoy the normal Christian family it shows at the center of the story: a family that plays and prays together. The kid actors carry a lot of the load here and do a fantastic job.

That said, the film is long and I would have bumped it up to an 8 if only it had been 10 minutes shorter. Writers are told to “murder our darlings” – it’s easy to fall in love with your own writing, but a good writer will have to cut even his favorite paragraphs when they just aren’t necessary. Director Darren Diane didn’t need to slash any whole scenes in Mercy Rule, but quite a few would have benefitted from a cut of ten seconds here, and 20 seconds there.

That extra time makes this slower paced than it might have been, and if your children are used to the more frantic pacing of today’s kids’ fare, this will probably bore them. But if they are used to watching an occasional black and white film, then Mercy Rule‘s lingering moments won’t bother them at all. In fact, they might like this longer version, because it means we get to spend a little more time with a family we’ve grown to know and love.

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Family, Movie Reviews

Never Give Up

Family / Sports 2023 / 79 minutes RATING: 6/10 This is great family viewing for the peek it offers into the very different world of the deaf. Never Give Up is the true story of Brad Minns, left deaf by a high fever at the age of three, back in 1968. His parents made the unusual decision at that time, to teach Minns to lip-read and have him try to take on the challenge of a regular school, instead of going to a deaf institution. While his classmates and even his teacher aren't all that welcoming, the game of tennis becomes an outlet and a refuge. Here his hearing loss doesn't make him all that different. It's still not an even playing field – deaf players can't hear how the ball sounds coming off their opponent's racket – but as Minn's first instructor tells him, he can use his eyes and his heart to make up the difference. When Minns beats his big brother, he starts realizing he could become great at this. One of the more unlikely tennis comebacks serves as the backbone to this film – it opens with Minns down two sets, and down five games to none in the third. In flashbacks throughout the match we learn about how he got here and how those early life challenges and triumphs gave him the perseverance to keep fighting even when he's that far down. CAUTIONS The only caution to note would be a hazing scene. When Minns tries out for the US national deaf tennis team, someone hides his rackets right before his first match. Then, after he wins and heads to the showers, they hide his clothes. With no other option, Minns comes to the team meeting "wearing" nothing but a two-foot by three-foot sign which reads "Used tennis balls here." That sounds worse than it is – the signage has him covered more modestly than even the biggest pair of shorts. CONCLUSION I wanted to give this a 7, because our whole family enjoyed it. Who doesn't like a family-friendly, sports underdog story, that teaches you a bit about a different world, and even acknowledges God with a few quiet and respectful nods? But I give 6s for good films that have something notably subpar, and that's the acting here. It's just not very good. It's not so bad that it's annoying, but it is in the range of what you'd find in a low-end Hallmark movie. I'll add that there are some nice production touches too, including the soundtrack featuring Huey Lewis' The Power of Love (playing when Minns was down 40 to love), and some unique "sketched" opening titles. The tennis match itself is solidly shot – believable if not all that suspenseful. So, a 6, but significantly, a 6 that everyone in our family enjoyed. Never Give Up is in theaters across the US starting on Sept. 1, and will be available to stream in Canada some time after. ...