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The Wager DVD
In this film, one of Hollywood's most popular actors is about to be given the Best Actor award. Just as he is about to be awarded, things in his life take a turn for the worse. Divorce, paparazzi, seduction and failure are among the things fate seems to have in store for him. But what is God doing in all of this? This is a Job-like story of a great actor, caught in a crisis only to be exasperated by the paparazzi, and his faith that he clings to. Through various people he knows and meets, he is encouraged to live out the life he knows he should and desires.
Michael Steele is at the pinnacle of his career, about to enjoy the recognition of Best Actor. Things have been good for him, and they were about to get better. Events soon start happening though, that will send his life spiraling down into valleys of doubt and darkness. The director encourages Michael to act a steamy scene with his co-star, Cassandra. He stands up to the director and refuses to cooperate on the basis of his faith, and receives a lot of flak in return from the director and is kicked off the set. Cassandra ends up trying to seduce him, and while in the same room, a paparazzi photographer from outside their window steals a shot and exploits a moment that didn't actually lead to anything. His wife ends up divorcing him, his reputation as a good actor and a Christian is on the line. He reaches out to his sister, Annie, for advice. Her words have a lasting impact on him as he continues to walk through this crisis. Later is a scene where Michael experiences what is symbolized as a confrontation of lies with Satan, embodied by a limousine driver. The driver tries to convince him of his inability to live up to the standards of the Sermon on the Mount. He had been having dreams about this, and here he is, face to face with a man trying to cut him to his core and instill doubt as to his ability to live according to the Word of God.
Thoughts on The Wager
The thing about this movie, that is true about many good Christian films, is that the thing that makes it safe, the script and lack of felt conflict that would give it theatrical pull, is sacrificed. I think the actors did well. Some punch is lost though, when they avoid the possible depth that a scene potentially has. The problem is, when you go there, and deal with the real struggles that plague men like this in real life, you delve into the world that may be not suitable to present to children of younger ages. The message is so relevant for this day and age, and the strength of the film is the family friendliness, which makes a subject matter like this clean enough for younger ages, without overwhelming or needlessly suggestive scenes. I thought Travis especially was really good for this role, maybe it's his country singer character I know him first to be, that goes so well with the distraught character that he played. As the character gets everything thrown at him from seduction to divorce, the fissure of his career to the lure of money, all in a Job-like style, I like how the message of the film is realized. Staying strong in your relationship with God, when the evil one makes that hard to do. This theme is as classic Biblically as it gets, and yet is put in such a contextual way that it is understood well by many in this day and age. The cinematography was great, it accomplished its goal well. The storyline slowed down quite a bit at times, but didn't detract much from the film. Again, the strong point of the film, I feel, is that it was a "message" based film, and a most relevant one at that. Let me just say, that Randy Travis fans are going to love the soundtrack, but maybe that's obvious.
A fantastic cast in this film make Wager dynamic and well-acted. A not too unfamiliar cast with Randy Travis, country-singer, playing the main actor, Michael Steele, DJ (Cameron Bure) from Full House made an appearance starring Randy's co-star in the film, Cassandra. Also, Bronson Pinchot from Perfect Strangers joins this cast, as well as Nancy Stafford from Matlock. Randy Travis fans will be pleased to know that not only is he acting but also what he's known for, giving us a little guitar and song.
The Wager would be a great movie to watch with your teens to start talking about how to stand strong against the lures of money, sex, and fame. Especially with the latter two, money and sex, our culture really knows how to hook our young adults. We need more and more opportunities like this to revisit again and again the question of what it looks like to live in a sex saturated, money driven world. We live in this world, and yet are challenged not to model our lives after it, so let this film be a conversation starter with your friends and family.
The Wager was given 5.5 stars out of 10 by IMDb. Dove.org gives it 4 out of 5 doves. It was released June 15, 2007 by Blazing Sun Productions, and was based off a book by best-selling author Billy Myers. Directed and written by Judson Pearce Morgan. This film is not yet rated. Dove.org approves this as a good family film for ages 12 and over.
Sex: there is a scene where Michael is asked to act a steamy love scene but rejects; adultery is mentioned as Michael is being seduced. Language: No language. Violence: cops open fire on a man; officers put a man in a headlock; Michael punches a paparazzi photographer to the ground; Michael fights with a man who has abused children. Alcohol: female shown drinking a glass of wine. Nudity: only a male teen who is wearing swimming trunks, only see his back.