Plot: Matt Webster (Chris Steele) has a good job, a beautiful home, and gives his family a lifestyle that most can only dream of. But beyond the financial side, this lifestyle has a cost attached, as it has changed the family in numerous ways. His wife Rachel (Shelby Smith) has no idea how to clean house or cook, his daughter is quite spoiled, and his youngest son is often left alone, while the others go off to do what they want. As time has passed, the cost of this lifestyle has taken a toll on their finances and now, Matt finds himself in deep debt. His brother tries to give him financial advice, but Matt doesn’t want to be preached at, so he refuses. But when the bills pile up and Matt realizes he is about to lose it all, he realizes a change needs to be made. The big house, the expensive toys, and the lavish lifestyle all vanish, as Matt and his family are forced to move in with his brother until things improve. Can his family adjust to this simpler life and if so, how will they rebuild and start fresh?
Entertainment Value: Stand Strong is obviously a Christian movie designed to push that agenda, but does it entertain? The story of a rich family who has to give up their lifestyle and face a humble new start is a well worn one, but with this level of preaching on deck, it at least feels somewhat fresh. The movie never hides its agenda and pushes hard, as the family is helpless until they accept that religion is the answer. Anyone who resists the help of religion flounders, while the believers prosper, so it makes no bones about how it operates. The family they move in with check off all the boxes too, from a bunker to a home garden to home schooling, it seems like no one except the husband ever interacts with the outside world. This agenda of home school and biblical finance is hammered home hard and often. A woman who was unable to peel a potato is convinced she now needs to home school her children, which is a scary thought. The movie is so aggressive with its approach, it comes off as over the top and to me, that’s the best aspect of Stand Strong. The narrative turns absurd at some points, bolstered by ham handed, soap opera style performances that are quite fun to watch. Aside from that heavy handed tactic and the weirdness of the host family however, the movie isn’t often that wild or so over the top that it entertains. Unless you have a genuine interest in the religious aspects of Stand Strong, you can safely skip this slice of Christsploitation.
No nakedness. Come on. No blood either, but we have plenty of overly dramatic tears and the heartbreak of declined credit cards. The dialogue is dead serious and pushes its agenda with a firm hand, to the point of coming off like propaganda. But it never really makes a good case for some of the things it champions, especially the home school side of things. The home schooled kids show no signs of being smart or socially adept, not to mention the mom who decides she will start to home school is barely smart enough to operate a vacuum cleaner. Advising unqualified parents to home school is a scary, kind of irresponsible approach. As melodramatic as the dialogue is, it rarely comes through with big moment lines. But there is consistent, heavy handed religion, which adds some entertainment. The cast makes the lines more fun as well, with the deadpan deliveries and melodrama. As easily one of the most forceful religious pictures I’ve seen, Stand Strong earns a crazy point for being so aggressive and relentless with pushing its agenda, without question. The cast is also hilarious in most scenes, with wooden but fun turns that conflict with the serious tone. In the end, this one is firm handed propaganda, but it never reaches super fun levels of craziness.
Overall Insanity: 1/10