Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

No one would ever mistake "Mac" McDonald for a happy man.

This Memphis police officer is racist, hot-tempered and critical of pretty much everyone around him—even his wife, Sara, and son, Blake. Mac has always blamed himself for the death of his other son, Tyler, when the boy was only 5. It was a tragedy triggered by a drug deal gone wrong and a high-speed getaway 17 years ago, yet Mac knows it was he who told Tyler to keep trying to ride his new bike. He expresses his anger and grief through bigotry and sarcasm. And he's spent far more than his fair share of time punishing Blake emotionally. Sara's trying to cope by seeking counseling for the family. Blake responds by flunking out of school and hanging out with an unsavory crowd.

Enter Sam Wright, an African-American "sergeant pastor" who lands the police force promotion that Mac wanted. Their chief partners them, saying Mac has gone "lone wolf" long enough. The two instantly don't hit it off.

Though he's a fine policeman, Sam feels his true calling is to be a pastor. That doesn't pay the bills, though, as he and his wife, Debra, struggle to keep their tiny church afloat. So Sam sits in a patrol car all day with Mac, struggling to love the man. Mac refuses to cooperate. And if Pastor Sam can't love his enemies, maybe he's not cut out for the clergy after all.

Forget that, Mac would scoff if he knew what Sam was thinking. Mac's wondering if he's cut out for anything. And then things go from bad to worse to life-and-death.

Positive Elements

Sam wrestles with how to respond to Mac's not-quite-hidden racism. Though Sam is irritated, hurt and repulsed by Mac's actions and attitudes, he presses on, trying to treat his partner fairly. And he continues to reach out to him.

Sam's wife is a constant encouragement to him, supporting him in what he's doing presently, and caring about his dreams and aspirations. Sara, meanwhile, seeks counseling to save her family, and she pleads with Blake and Mac to go with her. Blake eventually does. And despite his frustration and hurt, an insightful Christian counselor helps him see the importance of actively trying to build a better relationship with his wounding—and wounded—father. Blake and Mac painstakingly takes steps toward understanding and loving each other. Mac gains a better understanding of his own injured heart through painful introspection.

Sam emphasizes to Mac the value and importance of healthy father-son relationships, using his own difficult bond with his father to help Mac understand. He says that no matter what a boy might say, he always needs his dad.

Many more positives are spiritual in nature. Read on.

Spiritual Content

Sam's grandfather, George, serves as the story's sage, offering wise advice and pushing Sam in all the right directions. Give grace, the old man says. Grace, he says, has quite literally changed history. It has forged friendships, released people from emotional and physical bondage, and changed countless lives for the better.

It's a spiritual principle he illustrates by telling the story of recently freed slaves (in 1884) pledging to forgive their masters. This movie illustrates it by showing us what happens when we go beyond our human inclination to love only those who love us back. Sam has to do that with Mac. Mac has to do it with the man who killed his son. Blake has to do it with his dad.

It's not easy. Mac wonders what kind of God would allow his son to die—and then allow yet another tragedy in their family. But desperate for answers, Mac finally allows Sam to minister to him. Sam can't answer a thing, and admits as much without hesitation. But he assures his new friend of God's love and comfort. And, as it turns out, he can even offer something precious and unexpected—something very personal—to Mac and his struggling family. Sam also sees how God is using Mac to hone his own thoughts and attitudes.

Sam's questions about spiritual calling are gradually answered as God reveals to him his own heart and how to reach Mac's. His church congregation grows in part because of the public expression of grace he extends to his partner and friend. Then, to add blessing to beauty, Tyler's murderer find the McDonalds at church one Sunday and seeks their forgiveness for what he's done. He tells the congregation that he's become a Christian and is now serving the Lord as a missionary in Kenya.

Characters pray repeatedly before meals and for restored relationships, guidance and wisdom. They pray for Blake's healing when he's hurt. Sam and Mac pray together in an emotional reconciliation scene. It's implied that a man gives his heart to Christ. Church services are shown and spiritual songs are sung. Two of Sam's sermons get some screen time. The film closes with Ephesians 2:8 displayed across the screen.

Sexual Content


Violent Content

Offscreen, a young boy is hit and killed by a car. We hear the impact.

A bloodied woman is shown screaming for help. She says that her man hurt her baby. And the child is seen wrapped in a blood-spattered blanket. The suspect in the case ends up putting a gun to Mac's head. He says he'll take Mac to hell with him if Sam shoots. After Sam talks the suicidal thug down, Mac turns the tables and threatens the suspect just as ferociously.

Mac shoots a robbery suspect (in nearly complete darkness). That man is then shown with blood smeared on his chest while on a hospital gurney.

Angry and hurt beyond words, Sara slaps Mac. Mac jokes that Sam should just kill him and put them both out of their misery.

Crude or Profane Language

The n-word is cut short at the first syllable. Blake blurts out "freakin'."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Mac finds Blake's marijuana pipe. Mac goes to a pub for alcohol and later drinks from a flask while sitting in a chapel. A drug deal is shown.

Other Negative Elements

Mac denigrates African-Americans and Hispanics, making remarks, for instance, about how the neighborhood used to be a great place to live. A dotty elderly woman says a few things that reveal her prejudice, too.


Apart from being a play on the phrase race card, just what exactly is the grace card referenced in this film's title? It's a promise that the Wrights' ancestor Wendell, a slave, made to a loving master who set him free. The then 8-year-old boy wrote to the man on a piece of parchment, "I promise to pray for you every day, ask for your forgiveness, grant you the same, and be your friend always."

It's also the promise that Sam and his African-American congregation—which eventually includes the very white McDonalds and others—end up making to one another. Space Cowboys writer Howard Klausner, the film's executive producer and screenwriter, told CBN News, "This is the story of a black cop and white cop and it is not all happy. I think Christians have been silent on race because just like grace, it is tough stuff. It's hard. It's uncomfortable."

Director David G. Evans, a Memphis optometrist, told the Christian Telegraph, "The point is to grab people by the heart." And it did just that for me. I watched The Grace Card as I was harboring deep resentment toward a man who killed a family friend in a tragic—public—shooting. As I struggled with how to work through my anger, God quietly used this film as a nudge to show me what the consequences are when we choose rage over forgiveness.

"Justice won't change our hearts," a character wisely explains. Only grace and love can do that. And how would the world change if we all extended the same grace shown in The Grace Card? To those who hurt us. To those we don't understand. To those we don't look like.

The answer is profoundly.

The Grace Card is a small-budget film spearheaded by Memphis' Calvary Church. It's a project inspired by and modeled after the films already released by Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia ( Fireproof , Facing the Giants). So you could say it's an amateur project that won't live up to its Hollywood peers. But that won't stop it from touching and inspiring more hearts than just mine. As its website states, "Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God's grace. Never underestimate the power of God's love."

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range





Michael Joiner as Mac McDonald; Michael Higgenbottom as Sam Wright; Louis Gossett Jr. as George Wright; Joy Moore as Sara McDonald; Dawntoya Thomason as Debra Wright; Rob Erickson as Blake McDonald; Cindy Hodge as Dr. Vines


David G. Evans ( )


Samuel Goldwyn Films



Record Label



In Theaters

February 25, 2011

On Video

August 16, 2011

Year Published



Meredith WhitmoreSteven Isaac

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!