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When a movie begins with an extended quote from one of Ronald Reagan’s speeches you get a pretty good idea of where it’s going, and Last Ounce of Courage doesn’t dash expectations. This religious-themed drama about a small-town mayor’s personal crusade against “the war on Christmas” is about as subtle as the character’s name—Bob Revere.
Clearly aimed to the blue state audience, the film is mainly notable for the appearance of such screen veterans as Blaxploitation icon Fred Williamson and–looking as beautiful as she did in Summer of ’42—Jennifer O’Neill. Oh, and the fact that a fun if ultimately dangerous drinking game could be devised around the number of times the word “freedom” is uttered onscreen.
Yes, according to the screenplay written by co-director Darrel Campbell, Americans are on the verge of losing every freedom they’ve ever enjoyed, with the film dedicated to the millions who’ve died fighting to preserve them since the country was founded.
Revere (Marshall R. Teague) is immediately identified as a rebel with his first appearance, riding a Harley adorned with an American flag as if he’s just stepped out of Easy Rider. He’s waving goodbye to his son Tom who’s on a train going off to war, leaving a pregnant wife, Kari (Nikki Novak), who shortly thereafter winds up widowed.
Cut to fourteen years later—presumably the film is set in the near future, since the chronology doesn’t add up—when Kari brings her teenage son Christian (Hunter Gomez) to stay with his grandparents. The reunion goes fairly smoothly until Christian is nearly suspended from school after he’s found in possession of a Bible—it’s not technically against the rules, but the politically correct principal is terrified of lawsuits—which riles his grandfather up to the point where he begins living up to his last name.
Soon, he’s defiantly erecting Christmas trees and putting statues of angels in the town square, prompting retaliatory action by an ACLU-like organization headed by the Grinch-like Warren “The Hammer” Hammerschmidt (played by– who else–Williamson.)
By the time Bob gets jailed for his actions and experiences a minor miracle thanks to the white bearded figure sharing his cell, the proceedings have gone so completely off the rails that even the most staunch right-wingers will be shaking their heads in befuddlement. This is a film that preaches to its choir with such heavy-handedness that it makes Bill O’Reilly, seen briefly making the same argument, seem understated by comparison.
Opened Sept. 14 (Rocky Mountain Pictures).
Production: Veritas Entertainment.
Cast: Marshall R. Teague, Hunter Gomez, Jennifer O’Neill, Jenna Boyd, Fred Williamson, Rusty Joiner, Nikki Novak.
Directors: Kevin McAfee, Darrel Campbell.
Screenwriter: Darrel Campbell.
Producer: Kevin McAfee.
Executive producers: Denise Castelli, Cindy Fukunaga, Gen Fukunaga, Steve Griffin, Gina Headrick, Richard Headrick, Kevin McAfree, Lynn McAfree, Norman A. Miles, Doug Pethoud, Rodney Stone.
Director of photography: Jason Cantu.
Editor: Miles Hanon.
Music: Ron Owen.
Rated PG, 101 min.
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