In the early 1970s, Birmingham was one of the worst places to live if you were black. Segregation was at its worst and even the governor vowed to never let black people into white schools. Woodlawn High School was one of the first schools to begin segregating and several of the black students made the football team under coach Gerelds (Nic Bishop). This did not sit well with the white players, but when a religious motivational speaker named Hank Erwin (Sean Astin) comes to speak to the team, they begin to see the world in a different light.
Usually faith-based movies bore me and cause me to gag, but Woodlawn doesn’t cause the same corny effects that some might. It might be because it isn’t just about faith. Segregation and Civil Rights are also huge in this movie and take up just as much of the spotlight as the religious aspect. It also doesn’t hurt that this movie is a true story surrounding a football team.
From a movie stand point, this movie is just as good as many of the true stories Disney likes to put out such as Eddie the Eagle, Miracle and Remember the Titans. Even though this movie isn’t Disney, it will please the same kind of fan. I like that the religious aspect of this movie isn’t crammed down my throat. In fact, I felt like I could ignore it if I needed to as many faith-based movies can be intrusive, but not Woodlawn. This movie really does feel like a real movie instead of a “church movie.” I really enjoyed that this was a true story that I could research and learn more about.
At the end of the day, if there was “faith-based” movie out there that I could withstand and actually watch again, it would be Woodlawn. This movie tackles many aspects with care and even makes sure the true events were dramatized well for entertainment purposes. For fans of football movies, this will please you too. I don’t know who this movie would turn off, but for the most part, I think most people should see this movie for the lessons it can teach. Co-starring Caleb Castille, Jon Voight, Sherri Shepherd, Joy Brunson, Lance E. Nichols, C. Thomas Howell, Brett Rice, Kevin Sizemore, and Richard Kohnke.
7/10 Stars – Even though it is faith-based, this movie covers segregation, football and a true story that will make you cheer.