Just as soon as I’d forgotten about the Kendrick Brothers, they resurrect themselves with War Room. If you’re unfamiliar with them and their special, unneeded spot nestled inside the history of cinema, the Kendricks are the po-faced purveyors of such sentimental, preachy nonsense as Fireproof (2008) and Facing the Giants (2006), a couple of amateurish forays into the world of Christian cinematic propaganda. But they do make a lot of money (at least compared to what they spend) by literally preaching to the converted. Their films are nothing more than mawkish sermonizing, the kind of thing that works only on those who’ve bought in, who — conveniently enough — are the only ones paying the admission to see these things.
Their latest concoction, War Room, is much the same. If anything, it’s somehow an even more dull and inert cinematic object, one that’s short in the bargain-basement action of fire-fighting and football like the Kendrick Brothers’ other films. War Room is a domestic melodrama about the failing marriage of real estate agent Elizabeth (Priscilla T. Shirer) and her husband Tony (T.C. Stallings), a pharmaceutical rep. With their marriage slipping away and with Tony on the verge of adultery, Elizabeth meets Miss Clara (TV actress Karen Abercrombie in a bad wig), who teaches her the power of prayer. Specifically, the power of praying in one’s closet, something Miss Clara tags the titular “war room.”
Yes, a movie about turning your closet into a prayer room isn’t exactly the height of drama. (And it smacks a bit of Carrie.) The Kendricks try to pad this out with a helping of marital discourse (Tony wants to sleep around and has a pill addiction) and a whole lot of cheeseball comedy, mostly revolving around Elizabeth’s foot odor and bad breath. Like this woman isn’t going through enough? But don’t worry, the marriage part, at least, can be wholly fixed through the power of prayer, though God leaves her out to sea as far as the halitosis goes. In between all this is a lot — and I mean a lot — of sermonizing. Coming in at a solid two hours, this is, after all, War Room’s main concern, to preach the good word. The problem, of course, is that this isn’t palatable to anyone other than the film’s core audience. And that group is always going to buy tickets, which means the Kendricks can skimp in a lot of areas. The film looks professional enough, but the performances are awkward and so much of the plot feels like padding. War Room’s amateurish because it can be. That it’s also dreadfully dull and completely flaccid filmmaking is just a bonus. Rated PG for thematic elements throughout.