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Nothing But Easily Digestible Bromides in The Grace Card

Nowhere near as adroit as its mush-brained title might have you believe, this Christian-themed domestic melodrama uses race as cheap window dressing for easily digestible bromides and a conclusion as foregone as a Family Circus panel. Its plot pivots on movie clichés, too: Memphis beat cops Mac (Michael Joiner), a bitter white guy who hates African-Americans because one killed his young son 17 years earlier, and Sam (Michael Higgenbottom), a cuddly black guy who is also a minister, gradually overcome their differences after being pressed into a reluctant partnership. Before that happens, Mac’s other, teenage son winds up needing a kidney transplant; two guesses as to who steps up to be the donor, and whether or not Mac ultimately gets right with Jesus. Despite its predictability, visual blandness, and guileless middle-class pandering (the poor may always be with us, but they’re generally out of sight here), The Grace Card at least resists proselytizing: If you don’t already believe in a God who assuages all of life’s ills, this movie isn’t out to change your mind. But by refusing to even suggest that racism is a walloping social problem rather than an individual, circumstantial one with an easy fix, it does a rotten job of preaching to the choir.


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