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Last Ounce of Courage
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by Peter Sobczynski

"America--$&#@ This!"
1 stars

"Last Ounce of Courage," a new conservative, faith-based drama that has dropped into theaters this weekend, is a film that opens and closes with two quotes from speeches delivered by none other than Ronald Reagan himself. Alas, these two quotations are the film's high-water marks when it comes to convincing performances, snappy dialogue and coherent political thinking. Sadly, the rest of it is such a turgid and unconvincing mess, both as a movie and as a polemic meant to rally the base to the cause, that my guess is that even those viewers who are partial to the views and ideas it espouses will come away from it feeling embarrassed at the clumsiness of the results. Imagine "Atlas Shrugged" without the quiet subtlety of the original novel or the keen cinematic craft of its generally misbegotten 2011 screen adaptation and you will be able to at least begin to grasp the ludicrous nature of its contents.

And what exactly is this searing testament to something or other actually about, one might ask? Well, allow me to quote directly from the synopsis found on the website for the film's production company. "Bob Revere is a small town Mayor and combat decorated veteran. He faces a root of bitterness from his past filled with heartbreaking loss. His grandson comes back into his life after many years to ask the most important question, “What are we doing with our life to make a difference?” Bob had grown apathetic along with an entire town. Now with the help of children, a group of people all band together to inspire hope, take back the freedoms that are being lost and take a stand for truth." Although that description might strike some outsiders as being a bit vague, there is nothing particularly wrong with it outside of the fact that giving the hero the last name of Revere might strike some people as laying things on just a little too thick for its own good. In fact there are any number of ways where it could go ranging from the genteel Hallmark TV movie path in which a grieving father is determined to ensure that the sacrifice of a loved one has some genuine meaning to a slab of "Red Dawn"-style meat in which lots of stuff get blown up real good.

That said, the story that "Last Ounce of Courage" is so demented that if I dreamed that it was even remotely a possibility, I never would have bothered to see it in the first place. During what I assume is the first war in Iraq (the film is a little fuzzy on dates but that is the least of its problems), the son of Mayor Revere goes off to serve his country only to inevitably get killed in action, leaving behind his childhood sweetheart, the infant son that he never saw in person and a father (Marshall Teague) so distraught that he puts a tarp over the restore truck that was meant to be a Welcome Home gift. When we pick up the story 14 years later, it quickly becomes apparent that Mayor Revere is not the most hands-on government official because as it turns out, his small town--and presumably the entire country--has become a secular humanist nightmare in which kids bringing Bibles to school are threatened with suspension and crosses are removed from the local church. Worst of all, the citizens are so thoroughly cowed in regards to that seething hotbed of controversy known as Christmas that no decorations are to be found either on public buildings or private homes, the junior high school Nativity pageant has been watered down into a weird science-fiction mishmash that even L. Ron Hubbard might have found wanting and none of the town's kids seem to even realize the religious underpinnings of the holiday. (On the DVD, I hope there is a scene in which the kids watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with brows furrowed with confusion.)

Needless to say, this aggression will not stand and after some goading from his precocious-yet-annoying grandson, Mayor Revere decides that the best way to properly acknowledge his ideals that his son died to protect is to declare war on those who have apparently--and quite successfully--declared War On Christmas. (Why yes, Bill O'Reilly does make a cameo here, billed in the credits as "Special Appearance by BIll O'Reilly (Courtesy of Fox News)." This may not be as good as the legendary screenplay credit for "The Taming of the Shrew" that read "By William Shakespeare with Additional Dialogue by Sam Taylor" but it will do for now.) And just who are these enemies, you might ask. Well, there is leader of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Organization (I wonder who they are meant to represent), a cigar-chomping publicity hog played, inexplicably, by none other than Fred "The Hammer" Williamson. There is the director of the holiday pageant, a man so foppish that he makes Franklin Pangborn seem butch by comparison. The media, naturally, is eager to exploit the situation and local government officials are eager to throw Mayor Revere under the bus so that things can settle down and they can get back to their regular business of keeping the beaches open. As for the womenfolk, while they do little more than stand by their men as they do their work, we do learn that one presumed strumpet left her husband and daughter without a trace because "she had her own agenda." In other words, our hero is taking a stand against a metaphorical rhombus of evil represented by African-Americans, gays, feminists, liberals, the media and government bureaucrats. Good news, Tea Party members, you now have a new Yuletide favorite to share in your fortified bunker on Christmas Eve after the annual viewing of "The Day the Reindeer Died."

There are so many things wrong with "Last Ounce of Courage" that I could spend all day dissecting them without hardly making a dent in them--a notion that seems especially silly considering the fact that it is in regards to a film that few of you had probably even heard of before starting to read this. For starters, while I am willing to overlook the fact that the entire film is based on a false conceit--the so-called War on Christmas that is much-discussed in some circles without ever really coming to pass--I cannot ignore the fact that the film handles it in such an oafish and overblown manner that it makes the Jack Webb classic "Red Nightmare " seem like a model of subtlety and restraint by comparison by setting up straw man arguments about the separation of church and state that hold little water and by treating its presumed target audience like little kids on the wrong end of the testing spectrum. (Did you know that Christmas is actually a federally-mandated holiday? Well, you will after this film because that fact is mentioned approximately 73 times throughout.) In fact, the story is so head-smashingly stupid at points that if you took away the overbearing soundtrack, the film could possibly play as a straight-faced parody of right-wing sentiments.

Another key problem is the fact that our hero, the celebrated Mayor Revere, is a jerk, a bully and a blowhard and that is when he is at his most likable. One of my measures for recognizing a person's worth is by how often they refer to themselves as being a patriot--the more times they do it, the greater the chance that they are exploiting that phrase to justify obnoxious behavior that few would tolerate otherwise. As it turns out, Mayor Revere calls himself a patriot a lot throughout the course of the film to justify his oafish ways to like-minded people and just to ensure that everyone knows that he is A Patriot, he tools around town on a motorcycle with a giant flag sticking out of the rear that even Rush Limbaugh might deem to be a safety hazard. We are clearly meant to be moved, angered and inspired by his efforts but I found myself actively rooting against him long before the film came to its end.

Speaking of the ending, it is so ridiculous in every way that it is both the best and worst thing about "Last Measure of Courage" and while I would love to mention its insanities, I hesitate to do so for fear of spoiling them for anyone planning on seeing it. Okay, could anyone planning on seeing the film please step away for a moment so I can share with everyone else? Thank you. All right, as we get to the climax, the town's Christmas tree has been pulled down under the cover of darkness (by the ACLO guy personally, it is inferred), Mayor Revere has lost has job amidst a scandal involving a long-hidden secret from his war days (though truth be told, he did pretty much cause the deaths of nearly all his men) and has landed himself in prison for restoring a gaudy cross to the outside of the storefront mission where it once hung. Then, in a series of miracles, all of the enemies of Christmas are summarily dispatched--the gay guy is actually locked in a closet--the holiday play is hijacked by the kids and turned into a Nativity pageant that ends with an American flag in the manger and a slow-clap round of applause from the audience, the mayor is released without facing any charges and his wayward daughter sees the light and returns home at last. Not only that, it appears that Jesus himself, albeit disguised as an aging hippie, appeared in his jail cell to lend support and to presumably let him know that he is the one making the real sacrifice. Alas, the only thing that doesn't occur is the arrival of Muslims to publicly celebrate their own faith, an act that the mayor continually claims he would welcome with open arms because of that whole "freedom" thing that he uses to justify his actions. Well, maybe they wanted to save something for the sequel.

One final element about "Last Ounce of Courage" worth noting is that it has arrived in theaters bearing the personal seal of approval of none other than Chuck Norris himself. Now I bow to no one in my appreciation for Chuck Norris and his long history of critically analyzing the cinema--I still treasure his debates with Andrew Sarris in which he vowed that he would "auteur out your still-beating heart," the thoughtful commentary track that he contributed to the Criterion Blu-Ray of "Silent Rage" and, of course, that bad-ass moment in "Lone Wolf McQuade where he was buried alive in his 4X4 and drove that sucker right out of the ground. Knowing this, I couldn't wait to see how many other viewers would be on attendance based on his endorsement and was slightly disheartened to find that there were only two other people there besides me. IN other words, I could have counted the entire audience on the fingers of one hand and still had enough leftover digits to give an off-color hand gesture and hitch a ride home afterwards. Those aren't Chuck Norris numbers--those are barely Aaron Norris numbers. Maybe--just maybe--his seal of approval doesn't pack the punch that it used to. A few years ago, you will recall, he publicly endorsed Mike Huckabee for president and that went nowhere. Then he claimed a few months ago that "The Expendables 2," in which he made a brief appearance, would be rated PG-13 because he demanded the removal of all the foul language as a condition of his participation and that couldn't have been more R-rated if it tried. Now his say-so isn't even enough to raise more than three people and one of them was admittedly attending under false pretenses. All I can say is, God help the next unlucky sort stuck with his less-than-helpful public support. Really? He did? No fooling? Man, that guy just cannot catch a break to save his life these days, can he?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24347&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/15/12 16:42:33
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User Comments

12/15/13 dr.lao If your definitions of patriotism and faith are agonziingly shallow, you'll love this movie 1 stars
12/11/12 Obama No, Joe, I'm the disgrace to America, as is anyone who voted for me. 5 stars
12/01/12 Okay! Laughably amateurish religious fundamentalist propaganda. 1 stars
10/06/12 Dan jones You are a liberal puke, aren't you 4 stars
9/28/12 Jennifer This was a great movie and a reminder that we must stand up for Christ and our freedom. 5 stars
9/25/12 Gail You must be a lawyer - full of hot air! Evidently you didn't get the message of the mov. 5 stars
9/23/12 j garcia wonderful!'sad to read all the angry bitter haters including this "critic" who issued such 4 stars
9/23/12 Planet of the Atheists If you can read this...you are too smart for this film 1 stars
9/22/12 Jeff One of the best movies i have ever seen, Its time to wake up and stand for Jesus. 5 stars
9/21/12 Phil and Leslie We enjoyed it very much, I am glad to be an American. Jesus Saves 5 stars
9/19/12 craig wow. what a turd of a movie. i am beyond words to describe how awful it is. 1 stars
9/19/12 Sienna52 It was a little corny, but I have to say it has a good message with a goal to wake up USA! 4 stars
9/18/12 Joe I was speechless at how forceful and shameless this movie was. A disgrace to america. 1 stars
9/18/12 Mabel Rogers Would go back and see -- worth seeing over and over 5 stars
9/17/12 Maria Loved it..Without God we have nothing. 5 stars
9/17/12 Joe My dad wanted to see this movie so I tagged along. Horrible movie all around. Avoid it! 1 stars
9/16/12 EM HALE If you understand what freedom is and what was sacrificed for it you understand the film. 4 stars
9/16/12 Lynda I enjoyed the film very much it was corny, but it was inspiring. 4 stars
9/16/12 Mike McGrath A1 sure to piss the lib commie reviewer off 4 stars
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  DVD: 04-Dec-2012



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