- - Sunday, March 2, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In 2013, we had Leonardo DiCaprio snorting cocaine off — well, if you saw “The Wolf of Wall Street” (a totally missable movie, regardless of what the vaunted Academy says), you know where. Cate Blanchett chomped Xanax like they were Tic Tacs, Matthew McConaughey did his yeoman’s share of coke, and “American Hustle” taught us all that drugged-out crime really does pay.

But 2014 looks different. A lot different. Perhaps it’s five years of President Obama. The economy is worse, not better. All those 20-somethings whom millions of Americans have been putting through college the past half-decade are moving back home. Obamacare is turning into Obamascare — no one feels safe, secure anymore. Not much hope for “hope and change.”


SEE ALSO: CURL: Fear and trembling for Democrats on Capitol Hill


So, right on cue, the movies are changing. The excess of the 1980s? Neurotic New Yorkers? Not so much. God is making a comeback, and so are the Bible, faith, religion.

First came “Son of God,” which opened late last month. The makers of the History Channel’s hit 2013 miniseries “The Bible,” which averaged 11 million viewers an episode and was America’s most watched cable show last year, turned the series into a surefire Hollywood hit. (I caught the movie on opening day: At 1 p.m. on a Friday, some 200 people turned out. Some wiped away tears in the final Crucifixion scenes.)

Later this month comes “God’s Not Dead.” “Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton, finds his faith challenged on his first day of philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson,” says one description. “Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade.”

In a college shocker, Wheaton disagrees, and then “must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class.”

The movie looks, from its trailer, to capture everything we hear about modern-day colleges. Instead, this time, one student takes issue with the nonstop pablum offered by liberal professors and goes head to head with the atheist professor. (It being a Christian movie, it’s safe to put your money on God in this one.) Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” has a role in the movie, which is sure to irk the mainstream media.

By month’s end comes “Noah,” a nine-figure-budgeted blockbuster sure to stoke the embers. Even before its release, the film is causing a stir. Just last week, the producers put out this disclaimer: “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.”

In April comes “Heaven Is for Real.” Based on The New York Times best-seller, the film features a small-town dad (Greg Kinnear) whose 4-year-old son claims to have visited heaven when he “dies” on the operating table. He meets his miscarried sister and a great-grandfather he never knew. He goes on “to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how ‘really big’ God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit ‘shoots down power’ from heaven to help us,” says one description.

In June, there’s “Left Behind,” which “focuses on the hours immediately following the Rapture, when millions of people vanish, and the ones left behind face the chaos around them.” “Exodus” comes in December. It stars Christian Bale as Moses “leading the Israelites from the grips of slavery at the hands of the Egyptian Pharaoh.”

Next year, too. In 2015 comes “Mary, Mother of Christ.” Rumors are swirling that there’s a Cain and Abel movie coming from Will Smith and a Pontius Pilate picture starring Brad Pitt.

Now, perhaps more than ever, or at least of late, people are looking for some sort of meaning. The promise of the Obama years have clearly not panned out. Maybe there’s something more.

Thomas Keating, an associate theater professor at Charleston Southern University, told The Post and Courier that Tinseltown is coming around. “Hollywood realizes that there is a market for these Christian films where they might have been reluctant in the past,” he said. “Now they are willing to make an investment.”

And so are Americans. Looks like 2014 is going to be the year of God. And maybe that’s about time.

Story Continues →