Chesterton is quite famous for having said that. Some may misinterpret this phrase as an excuse for lack of effort, but it is not what it says. I too took a while to understand it as well. And yet ever since I did, I have admired the wisdom of these words over and over.
Take the film I took Numbers Four, Six and Seven to last night. A no-Oscar-pretentious Hollywood production, not by a stretch. Some of the acting wasn't even very good. Low budget.
Wait! I never go to the movies! And, there was a blizzard last night!
Well, yes, a blizzard.
|This was taken while Number Four drove home at 20 MPH.|
And no, I haven't seen a single Oscar-nominated film. No, wait, we did go see the Hobbit as a family. But I'm not sure it was nominated for an Oscar.
Why? Because my idea of entertainment is not action films, and the rest of the films are either disgusting to see or trying to forcefully shove some weak ideal of save-the-earth or wrong-is-actually-right down my throat, both of which I don't welcome. Nothing wrong with great environmental projects--I am married to an ecologist, keep in mind--but from Hollywood what we get is "protecting the environment is the only moral absolute" and well, we know it isn't. Ultimately I don't trust the spiritual, interior life of Hollywood's producers or directors.
There is an occasional great film--but I think the moral greatness of a film is almost always accidental, or even done despite of its producers like in the case of LesMis--they couldn't quite take away all of the great elements of the superb, very spiritual story of Victor Hugo's away from the production.
Back to last night's film. I heard about it and watched the trailer earlier in the day:
And I decided to go with the kids before it stopped showing in town. A film like that doesn't last, although it has had a surprisingly large viewership from what I read. I didn't expect a flawless production, but I expected, and enjoyed, a film that talks about what is real in life. Love. Faith. People's hearts seeing what they were blind to beforehand. Courage.
I did get all that, and more. It wasn't sound Catholic theology but the theology wasn't off the charts either, nothing anti-Catholic. The protagonist, a college student who is singled out by an atheistic professor to prove the existence of God to the class, does a great job studying and preparing his three lectures about it he is allowed to give. Actually this young man is a Disney Channel actor and does a very good job in the film.
Well, the trailer almost tells it all. There is appearance of a Duck Dynasty couple. I don't watch the TV show and I found them sincere and likable. There are issues of sin and love and loyalty or lack thereof, arrogance, greed, selfishness. There aren't any gratuitous graphic scenes of sex or violence. The photography and production levels are not amazing or breathtaking, but were fine, and told the story well.
What I would have changed? Well when Lemaitre was referred to, I would have mentioned he wasn't simply a "theist" but a Catholic priest. I would have brought the sacraments into the story-line--especially Confession, and personally I would have preferred to skip the Christian rock concert in the finale. Adoration and Gregorian Chant would have been much better--but I had to love the members of that music group, which turns out to be a real Christian music group. They were all funny and sincere. And other minor things.
So back to Chesterton: “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." This story was worth doing, and they did a good thing with it. Not excellent or breathtaking, but they did it, and it was worth doing it. Go see it!