7/10 An independent, Christian drama about baseball, family and faith, my expectations for “Running the Bases” were greatly exceeded due to some strong lead performances, an emotional balance of sorrow and laughter and decent production values that had me pleasantly surprised. As a Christian myself I tend to go support these types of films but most are incredibly cheesy, full of over the top acting, low production values and preachiness that turns many non-believers off. I didn’t even watch the trailer before seeing his film so I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I assumed it would be another cheesy Christian movie with good intentions but a botched delivery. I am happy to admit that my assumptions about this film were wrong and this ended up being a genuinely solid film. Before I get into why this film works, I will get the couple negatives out of the way first. There certainly are some cheesy moments sprinkled throughout but not too many of them. In flashbacks early on in the film, several of the performances left much to be desired. Finally, there are very minor nitpicks that most people won’t pick up on. For example, a character is in prison and when he has a visitor and is about to embrace them, the prison guard instantly tells them no since there is a no physical touching rule, as written on the white board behind the characters. Yet later on when the character’s wife comes to visit, they hug and embrace one another a few times right in front of that same written white board message but this time with no ramifications from security. This doesn’t really take anything away from your enjoyment of the film but is worth noticing for nitpickers like me. That being said, there are many aspects to admire about this film. Leading man Brett Varvel (Luke Brooks) gives a wonderful leading performance and a lot of the main cast also does a solid job. The script from writers/directors Marty Roberts and Jimmy Womble is filled with a ton of heart, solid character arcs, some laugh out loud humor (particularly from comedic standout Justin Sterner as Ryan Jamison) and strong, emotional payoffs. While the film preaches, it does so in a natural, genuine way. Many Christian films feel too preachy and cheesy but this film’s message is conveyed in a mature and reasonable manner with more subtlety and nuance. As you can probably surmise from the film’s title, this film does indeed have a lot to do with baseball and you can tell the film makers themselves know a lot about baseball since all of those elements are accurately portrayed. There is nothing worse than a film maker making a film about a subject that they haven’t researched but luckily that problem is avoided here. Despite being just over two hours long, the pacing works well and each scene serves a purpose so something is always happening. Multiple plots/subplots are well balanced and resolved by the film’s end. It is incredibly refreshing to watch a film with a worthwhile message that is also well made (its $3.3 million budget is strong for an independent Christian film). If you are religious or have someone who is open to religion but may not be a believer, this is a solid film that you can introduce them to that won’t scare them away due to being overly preachy and eye rolling. Take a swing and run past the bases into your local movie theater to check this out.

#VarvelCinematicUniverse / #LukeIAmYourHeavenlyFather / #DontJudgeABrooksByItsCover / #TheBrookOfLuke / #NoWritersStrikeOut / #InGodsGoodBases

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