Woodlawn movie full length review - A film like a cat: You either love it, or hate it.
Some may debate whether I'm spoiling Woodlawn with this review, but spoilers reveal plot twists, and this contains none of it. I can see why Woodlawn has garnered only a 6.
3/10 for such an emotionally powerful film. Sean Astin plays the man who brings a sense of religion into the team, and it can rub a good number of people the wrong way. I'm not at all religious, but spiritual, and it's very personal for me. As the film developed the story, I resisted the urge to shut down, because I don't want to simply give up, but Woodlawn can make people feel really uncomfortable, because of the religion being played in moments throughout the film. I found myself almost rolling my eyes between tears. If this is what truly happened at Woodlawn HS, terrific. But I also get a feeling that the film was produced to react to the ongoing debate over how personal religion may bleed into someone else's comfort zone. Throughout Woodlawn, this fact kept in my consciousness, which was a little discomforting, and at the end of the film it tells viewers about upcoming rallies for Jesus.
I'm telling you this because it's not spoiling Woodlawn, but revealing for those who either love Jesus and God, or for those who don't want to feel preached to, to consider watching something else. I was puzzled the way the film started because I had no idea about the religious back story embedded in Woodlawn. A coach on the west coast recently was called to task about similar actions, to that of the team coach in this movie. SCOTUS has been reviewing cases even now, and religion has become a hot button topic in the elections. Whatever you feel is your choice, but I don't care to let my guard down just so that I can feel somewhat emotionally and spiritually exploited, as I did by the time the credits rolled.
It still is a powerful film, but the message of team and personal sacrifice and achievement was underscored by the recurring message of a higher power. I understand that the Jesus movement helped many during an era of national turmoil. As people spoke about what happened in the 1960s and early '70s, footage of actual interviews were shown, and the messages ring true in today's unrest. That message has told me that, even after decades have passed, maybe technology and music can change, but people tend to react now as they have decades and even centuries ago.
The acting itself was top-notch. The story begins with some really heart wrenching accounts, and the characters piked up the ball, so to speak, and scored. All characters felt believable, the music and editing were fine, and I liked the cinematography, which was nice but not amazing. But one character - a student with a very large afro - didn't seem to make a final confrontation like I had expected he would.
If it weren't for the heavier-than-expected religious insertions, I would have enjoyed it more.