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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.

Cautions

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.

Conclusion

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

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