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It's not often that a Christian movie can compete with Hollywood's heavyweights. But during its limited theatrical run last year, The Ride (World Wide Pictures) not only rivaled the "big boys," it beat most of them. It outperformed Academy Award winners As Good as it Gets and Good Will Hunting in per-screen audiences at selected theaters in Oregon, Texas and Arizona. Only Titanic fared better. American Airlines has already drafted the film for its in-flight movie schedule. And International Christian Visual Media honored it with the Crown Award for best film.
So why all the fuss? Suspense. Action. Passion. Extraordinary writing. Top-notch acting. Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens, The Rock) plays Smokey Banks, a pro-rodeo bull-riding star gone to seed. He's upstaged only by Brock Pierce (The Mighty Ducks) as Danny, a young boy with a zest for life and a hankerin' to ride a bull.
Smokey's life boils down to a saying he's fond of, "Sometimes you just have to whale on it awhile." Then he's faced with something he can't beat up, throw out or explain away . . . love. From Danny and from God. His life consists of hangovers, bar brawls, prison cells and ever-fleeting eight-second rides of glory. But when Danny prays that Smokey will teach him to ride, God moves mountains to make it happen. A lot more than one boy's dream is fulfilled in the process.
Of course, the "ride" is an analogy for life. When faced with a crisis (sharing the particulars would ruin one of the film's most poignant moments), Danny insists, "It's not about how long I'm on, it's about how well I ride"--exactly what Paul teaches in Philippians 1. The gospel message is clear and its emotional draw remains undeniable. (Evangelist Franklin Graham makes a guest appearance as a rodeo chapel speaker.)
Still, The Ride has an appeal that far exceeds the narrow focus of an evangelistic tool. This film is nothing less than a riveting human drama.