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The Shack's undeniably worthy message is ill-served by a script that confuses spiritual uplift with melodramatic clichés and heavy-handed sermonizing.
All Critics (70)
| Top Critics (18)
| Fresh (14)
| Rotten (56)
The film could have been just crazy enough to be brilliant, but it winds up looking like a wet weekend at Christian Disneyland.
If Octavia Spencer is God, then Lord, take me to church.
It's one of those movies where you'll either decide to give in right away and sob for two hours straight or opt to fight it while your resentment slowly simmers to a rolling boil.
Based on the sleeper bestseller by Canadian author William P. Young, The Shack offers an enlightening - if dispiriting - vantage on contemporary, non-denominational Christianity.
The Shack wants to be a sincere exploration of faith and forgiveness but somehow manages to be both too innocuous and too off-putting for its own good.
"The Shack" is a grief-packed journey through loss, bargaining and acceptance that feels like an overly long church sermon.
The Shack is far from profound or thought provoking, but it's not as harmful or hurtful to outsiders as most doctrinally centered films tend to be.
The Shack isn't going to change any minds or bring the unfaithful closer to God, but it'll preach to the choir in its sappy, inoffensive manner.
Playing like an afternoon TV movie made by a God channel, this has to be the strangest film of the year.
A joyless cheesy Christian faith -based drama that might not even appeal to mice.
Here is a new propaganda exhibition of pseudo-Christian cinema... [Full review in Spanish]
... it seems that we are facing a perfect symptom of that supermarket spirituality that already has a large supply in the publishing market.
When it comes to faith-based movies, especially those based on best-selling books, you know that they're going to be preaching to the choir and more determined to give its intended audience the message it wants first; everything else is secondary. With The Shack, I got the start of an interesting film scenario and then it became the most boring, laborious, and theologically trite Ted Talk ever. I was fighting to stay awake and it was a battle that I was losing. The opening twenty minutes presents a story with dramatic possibility: Mack (Sam Worthington) is a family man who is grieving the loss of his youngest daughter. On a camping trip, she was abducted by a pedophilic murderer and killed in a shack in the woods. Mack is a shell of himself and his family doesn't know how to reach him. He gets a mysterious invitation from "Papa," his wife's nickname for God, inviting him to the murder shack. So far so good. There's even a fairly interesting back-story for Mack about his alcoholic and abusive father. Young Mack eventually poisoned his bad dad's drinks with hazardous chemicals to protect he and his mother. However, all remote sense of entertainment is snuffed out once Mack enters the confines of the titular shack. Inside are human avatars for the Holy Trinity of Christianity, with Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer serving as a homespun "Papa." The next 100 minutes is a series of talk show interview segments with each person to engage in full on flimsy spiritual psycho-babble to explain why God lets bad things happen and forgiveness is key. The movie stops being a dialogue and becomes a lecture series, and each one just kept going on and on. The characters stop being characters and become different mouthpieces for the spiritual cliches. It's like the filmmakers threw up their hands and gave up. This is not a movie. It's a inspirational exam told by the most cloying professors. The lessons learned feel trite (who are you to judge, God is with you through good times and bad) and the movie curiously leaves a lot of dramatic implications unresolved. Did Mack kill his father with the poisoned drink? Did this killer pedophile ever get caught, and if not doesn't that mean other children are at risk? It's like once Mack enters that mystical murder cabin, the movie loses any sense of structure, pacing, stakes, and dramatic propulsion, and that's before the silly race across the water with Jesus. I would also say Worthington (Avatar) is not the best choice as the lead actor due to his limited dramatic range and growl-pitched voice. Other movies have dealt with heavy loss but rarely has one felt so detached from making that loss personable and empathetic. The Shack is a maudlin fable that wants to make people feel good even during the dark times. That's admirable but it doesn't make this 135-minute sermon any more of a worthwhile movie to watch.
Nate's Grade: C-
If you want to make your Friday more interesting, how about you go see either a different movie or just do whatever you do in common because The Shack isn't worth seeing or even worth sending a little penny. I'm like serious, The Shack never attempts to shine in any sort of way and the actors were killing themselves during production of this film.
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