Ham-handed ‘Courage’ fights the war on Christmas

  • By Michael O’Sullivan The Washington Post
  • Wednesday, September 12, 2012 3:15pm
  • LifeGo-See-DoMovies

It isn’t hard to imagine the intended audience for “Last Ounce of Courage.”

The old-fashioned melodrama about a small-town mayor’s fight to put the Christ back in Christmas — and to drag the town’s mothballed angel ornaments back into the public square — plays squarely to folks who feel that Christians today are persecuted.

As its hero states, with little evidence other than a clip of Bill O’Reilly decrying the separation of church and state, “For a long time, people have been trying to pass laws to get rid of Christmas altogether.”

The Grinch in this case is a cigar-smoking heavy from an ACLU-like, Washington-based advocacy group, played with lip-curling malevolence by Fred Williamson.

The fact that the movie’s hero, Bob Revere, is played by an actor whose press-kit bio describes him as “perhaps best known for his on-screen fight with the late Patrick Swayze in the cult movie ‘Road House’” severely limits the film’s broader appeal.

Heading a cast of mostly unknowns, whose level of talent varies widely, star Marshall Teague will win no acting awards for his performance as an American veteran and patriot pushed to the limit by political correctness.

The sheer volume of what I like to call “eyebrow acting” — in which thespian intensity is directly proportional to the angle and depth of one’s forehead furrows — is staggering.

The strenuous ax-grinding of the polemical script by Darrel Campbell (who co-directed with producer Kevin McAfee) will also win few converts to the cause. Simply put, “Last Ounce” argues that the American people are slowly but surely being robbed of our freedoms by Big Government.

Though no doubt earnest, that message is hampered by heavy-handedness. It feels like a political attack ad created by a group of passionate but unpolished novices.

When the mayor defies those who try to crack down on his state-sponsored religious expression, for instance — hoisting a giant cross with the legend “Jesus saves” onto a downtown building — a TV news reporter observes that he is “flaunting” the will of the people.

Whether that malapropism is unintended or meant as a joke, it still hurts.

In other respects, “Last Ounce” is a workmanlike, if treacly and overblown, piece of propaganda. Its effectiveness depends entirely on the degree to which you already believe its talking points.

“Last Ounce of Courage” (1 star)

An earnest but overblown melodrama about fighting the government’s efforts to rob Americans of their freedoms. The cast is made up of mostly unknown actors.

Rated: PG for war images and smoking.

Showing: Alderwood 7, Everett, Marysville, Woodinville.

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

Everett’s Michael ‘Scooby’ Silva is the leader of the (dog) pack

Since 2012, he’s built a thriving business walking dogs while their owners are at work.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Most Read