November 26, 2018  (Web Review)

God Bless the Broken Road

Lionsgate, 111 min., PG, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $24.99, Dec. 4

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Some recent faith-based films have delivered their messages gently, but filmmaker Harold Cronk takes a sledgehammer approach in this film inspired by a popular song reflecting on a journey through life’s hardships that eventually leads to true love. After her soldier husband is killed in Afghanistan, church-going small-town Southern girl Amber (Lindsay Pulsipher) struggles to raise her daughter Bree (Makenzie Moss) on her own, resenting offers of help from her mother-in-law (Kim Delaney). Amber is determined to save the family home by working long hours as a waitress, but under the cumulative strain, her faith crumbles. Hope for a better future arrives in the person of Cody (Andrew Walker), a handsome NASCAR driver sent by his manager to learn to control his recklessness by working with crusty old mechanic Joe (Gary Grubbs), who is some sort of bad-driver-whisperer. One of the tasks that Joe assigns Cody is taking over the youth ministry at church, which includes teaching the Sunday school kids—Bree is one—to build go-karts. Cody catches a glimpse of Amber and is immediately smitten, although his dangerous job as a racer makes their relationship difficult, since she fears he might be killed too. But all will be resolved when Amber recovers her faith after a crisis. This Broken Road is paved with good intentions, but it rams home its message without the slightest trace of subtlety, turning its characters into caricatures and sacrificing honest drama for cliché-ridden sermonizing. Not a necessary purchase. (F. Swietek)