Billy: The Early Years
Our Rating
2 Stars - Fair
Average Rating
 
(3 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG (for thematic material including some disturbing images, brief language and smoking)
Genre
Directed By
Robby Benson
Run Time
1 hour 38 minutes
Cast
J. Thomas Bailey, Dan Beene, Cliff Bemis, Zephyr Benson
Theatre Release
October 10, 2008 by Rocky Mountain Pictures

Billy Graham has appeared in many movies over the years, most of them produced by World Wide Pictures, the movie studio that he founded through his evangelistic ministry in the 1950s. But apart from a handful of parodies, no actor has ever played him before, and certainly no film has tried to show what kind of person he was prior to becoming the internationally recognized preacher that he is today. So there was lots of fertile ground for Billy: The Early Years, the first major Graham biopic, to explore. Too bad, then, that the film does such a poor job of bringing his story to life.

Directed by Robby Benson (an actor-turned-director best known for voicing the furry prince in Disney's Beauty and the Beast) from a script by William Paul McKay (who produced the miraculous-survival-of-Israel documentary series Against All Odds) and Jana Lyn Rutledge (whose résumé includes the Canadian Christian kids' show Circle Square), the film does have one brilliant idea, but squanders its potential.

The film takes its cue from Amadeus, and tells the story of Graham's life through the eyes of Charles Templeton (Martin Landau), an old, hospitalized man who worked with Graham in the early days but then lost his faith. Now, decades after abandoning the ministry, Templeton is on his deathbed and giving an interview to a reporter (Jennifer O'Neill) who wants to know what working with Graham was like.

In an ideal world, this set-up would allow the filmmakers to wrestle with questions of faith and doubt, with Graham (Armie Hammer) on one side and Templeton (the younger version of whom is played by Kristoffer Polaha) on the other. In an ideal world, this set-up would allow the filmmakers to go deeper than the typical hagiography; it would ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Browse All Movie Reviews By:
Read These Next
Current IssueNew & Noteworthy Books
New & Noteworthy Books Subscriber Access Only
Compiled by Matt Reynolds.
Current IssueWhy the Church Needs the Infertile Couple
Why the Church Needs the Infertile Couple Subscriber Access Only
We're missing a broader scope of familial love.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christianity Today
Billy: The Early Years
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.