Bob Revere (Marshall R. Teague) is a grumpy small-town mayor made all the more curmudgeonly by the loss of his son, killed in battle, possibly by the swirling tornado of voiceovers that begin the film. It’s some 14 years later and his son’s widow, Kari (Nikki Novak), and his grandson, Christian (Hunter Gomez), have moved back to town. They left the town just after Bob’s son’s death, heading to, I believe, the godless city of Los Angeles to get a fresh start, but now they’re back — possibly because Christian’s elaborate boy-band hair was getting too expensive to maintain. Sullen Christian wants to know more about the father he never met and rifles through a footlocker full of keepsakes, pulling out his dad’s copy of the Bible. Later, he’s “caught” with the Bible in school and very nearly gets in trouble for it. You see, Bob explains, “They” have been slowly chipping away at the right to carry a Bible or even to celebrate Christmas. (“They” are all about taking our rights, one by one, in this movie. You can decide who, specifically, you think the They is because the movie’s not going to lay it out.)
And now we get to the crux of the issue, or at least the first crux of the issue (later there is more crux, including, literally, a cross) — Bob’s small town no longer celebrates Christmas because sourpusses and spoilsports have complained that things like a town Christmas tree and lamppost decorations are “offensive.” Emboldened by some very wooden dialogue from Christian, Bob decides Christmas ornaments are his inalienable rights as an American and so he sets out to decorate the town, garnering media attention and bringing in national pressure from Warren Hammerschmidt (Fred Williamson), big-time muckety muck.
OK, in fairness, I’m saying “big-time muckety muck” because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who he was supposed to be. Some kind of ACLU type? He’s not a politician, nor does he appear to have any connection to the town. He wears a fancy wool coat, smokes a cigar and wants to crush Christmas. If this movie were a talk show, his chyron would say “Warren Hammerschmidt, villain.”
Last Ounce of Courage uses all the string on hand and much of the tape to stick together commentary on the following ideas: (a) soldiers fighting and dying for their country, (b) Target’s use of “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas” (complete with Bill O’Reilly clip decrying this practice), (c) a thoroughly bizarre town (or maybe school?) play that translates the Christmas story into some vague weirdness featuring aliens so as to make some point about secularization, I think, (d) a “Jesus Saves” cross over a mission and (e) Them and Their taking away of our rights. Also, two quotes by Ronald Reagan.
It’s hard not to argue with the movie (people just don’t celebrate Christmas anymore, the movie keeps insisting; the seasonal aisles of any Rite Aid by early November beg to differ). But the movie is entitled to its ham-fisted, not terribly well-developed opinions. My beef as a film-goer is more with the quality of the acting (sub-infomercial), writing (yeesh) and editing (which was not a bad effort, assuming the person laying in the music and slicing together the scenes was a middle-schooler doing this for the first time with no prior instruction).
If you agree with whatever it is Last Ounce of Courage is trying to say, you deserve a better movie to argue your point. If you think you might disagree (assuming you can figure out what the point is) you deserve fair warning to save your money. F
Rated PG for thematic elements, some war images and smoking. Directed by Darrel Campbell and Kevin McAfee and written by Campbell, Last Ounce of Courage is an hour and 41 minutes long and distributed by Veritas Entertainment.