High school basketball coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) nearly led his team to victory this season, losing the state championship by just one basket. However, next year is looking to be the year the Brookshire Cougars will finally win it all—four of the top players on their strongest competition will be graduating, while the Cougars’ starting lineup will all be returning. Everything is looking great, that is until Franklin’s largest manufacturing plant closes down, and the 6000 employees are offered the opportunity to transfer to other locations.
Over the next five months, Franklin becomes a ghost town. The parents who worked at the factory have moved away, while the parents of the basketball players that remain see the dwindling team and pull their sons from Brookshire Christian School in hopes of getting a better chance at a sports scholarship elsewhere. Some of the coaches are also leaving the school, and so Principal Olivia Brooks (Priscilla C. Shirer) asks John to take over coaching the cross-country team. He is hesitant as he doesn’t really consider cross-country to be a sport, and becomes even more dejected when he discovers that the only person trying out for the team is new transfer student, Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson), who has asthma! Hannah has had a tough upbringing, raised by her grandmother (Denise Armstrong) after her parents died from drugs when she was young. Hannah became interested in running when she was younger, after hearing stories about her father’s achievements. However, Hannah is a social outcast at her new school, and is a bit of a kleptomaniac, stealing from students and teachers as a way to rebel.
Without his beloved basketball team, John is lost, looking for meaning and purpose in his life. He meets a man named Thomas Hill (Cameron Arnett) in the hospital, and the two become fast friends. Thomas has had a rough life, and has been in the hospital for a few weeks after losing his sight to diabetes. When he was younger, Thomas was cross country star, and so John seeks his advice for coaching tips. As their friendship gets stronger, Thomas starts to challenge John about his identity and faith, forcing him to confront his own beliefs. Meanwhile, John discovers something surprising about Thomas, and decides to help him overcome the mistakes of his past.
I had never seen any of the Kendrick brothers’ previous films before checking out Overcomer. It is an emotional, uplifting, family-friendly sports drama that also explores several characters as they go on personal journeys of self-discovery and improvement. Overcomer doesn’t shy away from adding elements of faith, and like all of the Kendrick brothers’ films, is generally targeted towards a Christian audience. At the same time, the film didn’t feel overly preachy, and could easily be enjoyed by people of all beliefs. At the core are several intertwined stories of forgiveness, redemption and self-discovery. For John, it’s confronting the idea that his role as basketball coach had become his primary source of identity, even above his roles of husband, father and Christian; for Thomas, it’s confronting the sins of his past; for Hannah, it’s confronting the sins of the present; and for Hannah’s grandmother, it’s learning to forgive and forget and accept the decisions and mistakes she has made.
In addition to the character drama, there’s also some exciting sports drama. The film opens with an amazing drone shot that pans over the big final basketball game of the season. And later on, we watch as Hannah goes through her training, competing in many smaller races as we build up to the big finish. As she trains with John and his family, Hannah learns to overcome her own limitations, while also seeing that there are people who love and care about her. The film also has a lot of fun, humorous moments mixed in.
I wasn’t familiar with the cast, though fans of the Kendrick brothers’ films will likely recognize some of the actors. All of the actors do an excellent job, especially lead Alex Kendrick, who also directed the film. Shari Rigby also feels very believable as John’s wife Amy—as I watched the film, I wondered if they had just cast the director’s actual wife in the role. And newcomer Aryn Wright-Thompson also does an excellent job of making you care about Hannah.
Sony’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The picture is bright, clean and detailed, and captures the action on the court and in the field just as well as the more personal drama in the homes and hospital. The audio track provides clear dialogue, and the stereo and surround channels are well-utilized to add ambiance and excitement to the sports scenes. The release includes both Blu-ray and DVD discs, which are packed in a standard HD keepcase with a slipcover, and also includes a Movies Anywhere compatible HD digital copy. The discs are loaded with bonus material, including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel, some music videos, and over an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and filmmakers.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Thai 5.1
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Descriptive Audio, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Thai 5.1
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese
- HD Digital Copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere
Items marked with an * are only available on the Blu-ray and Digital, while the others are also included on the DVD. Subtitles available on bonus features as well.
- Commentary with Director Alex Kendrick and Producer Stephen Kendrick (1:59:06)
The brothers provide an entertaining and informative commentary throughout the film, sharing lots of fun and interesting behind-the-scenes stories.
- Deleted Scenes (11:41)
The Kendrick Brothers provide a fun introduction to this collection of deleted scenes, explaining why the scenes were cut. The nine deleted scenes include “Factory Shuts Down”, “John’s Fit / Confronting Ethan”, “Ethan Learns About Team”, John’s Advice To Sons”, “John’s Pep Talk To Hannah”, “Barbara Finds Watch”, “Lunch Fight / Olivia Rebukes Hannah”, “Nurse Rose Stops John”, and “Amy and Barbara at Funeral”.
- Bloopers & Outtakes (2:34)
Fun with the cast and crew as they dance, flub and forget lines.
- Overcomer in 60 Seconds (1:11)
A fun, rapid-fire version of the film.
- The Making of Overcomer (21:32)
The cast and filmmakers give a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, shooting for 32 days in Columbus, Gerogia. Alex Kendrick talks about doing double duty, acting and directing, and takes a look at the sets, crew, and more. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, lots of prayer, and interviews with writer/producer Stephen Kendrick, writer/director/editor/star Alex Kendrick (“John Harrison”), 1st assistant director Adam Drake, director of photography Bob Scott, grip Spencer Weaver, camera utility 1/actor Joshua Kendrick (“Basketball Player”), production designer Katherine Tucker, volunteer coordinator Meghan Blackmon, line producer Justin Tolley, key grip Charlie Harrold, steadicam operator Dave Svenson, sound mixer Teddy Hallaron, boom operator Joseph Sntoyo, 2nd 2nd assistant director Mitch Hudson, and actors Dave Blamy (“Mitch”), Shari Rigby (“Amy Harrison”), Aryn Wright-Thompson (“Hannah Scott”), and Reggie Williams (“Funeral Pastor”).
- The Heart of Overcomer* (5:08)
The filmmakers talk about the inspiration for this movie, how this differs from their previous films, and the core ideas of identity and faith. Includes interviews with the Kendrick brothers, EVP/head of Affirm Films Rich Peluso, and stars Priscilla Shirer (“Principal Olivia Brooks”), Aryn Wright-Thompson, Shari Rigby, and Cameron Arnett (“Thomas Hill”).
- The Power of Forgiveness (2:00)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the importance of forgiveness. Includes interviews with writer/director/editor/star Alex Kendrick, and stars Denise Armstrong (“Barbara Scott”), Priscilla Shirer, and Cameron Arnett.
- The Theme of Identity (5:35)
The cast and filmmakers talk about answering the questions “Who is God?” and “Who am I?”. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with the Kendrick brothers, and stars Priscilla Shirer, Cameron Arnett, and Shari Rigby.
- The Opening Drone Shot* (4:33)
A behind-the-scenes look at filming and editing the impressive drone shot that opens the film. Includes interviews with director of photography Bob Scott, the Kendrick brothers, steadicam operator David Svenson, drone pilot Spencer Valdez, and colorist Keith Roush.
- Working with the Kendricks* (3:57)
The cast talks about working with these truly authentic brothers, while Alex, Stephen and Shannon Kendrick (executive producer) talk about each of their unique roles and how they balance one another out. Includes interviews with the Kendrick brothers, their mother Rhonwyn, and stars Priscilla Shirer, Cameron Arnett, and Jack Sterner (“Ethan Harrison”).
- Editing Overcomer* (5:20)
Alex Kendrick talks about the editing process, and demonstrates some of the tough choices he had to make.
- The Board: Visualizing The Edit* (2:48)
The Kendrick brothers show how they utilize a plot wall to visually see how the movie will come together.
- The Testing of a Composer: Paul Mills* (5:42)
Alex Kendrick heads to Nashville to talk with composer Paul Mills and see the orchestra record the score for the film.
- Finishing Touches: Color Grading* (3:12)
Alex Kendrick sits with colorist Keith Roush, who demonstrates the color grading process.
- Finishing Touches: Sound Design* (4:00)
Alex Kendrick talks with post sound editor Ben Zarai, who demonstrates how he combines the music, foley and special effects to create the final audio for the film.
- Don’t Mess with the Editors* (2:09)
The editors have fun in the editing room, providing these two humorous re-edited clips.
- Overcomer “Lip Sync” Music Video Featuring Mandisa (4:06)
The cast and crew lip sync “Overcomer” by Mandisa.
- Enough (Lyric Video) Featuring Koryn Hawthorne* (3:25)
Music video for “Enough” by Koryn Hawthorne. The lyrics appear over clips from the film.
- Resources Video (4:33)
The Kendrick brothers talk about where you can find accompanying resources to help people of all ages grow in their faith.
- Previews (14:22)
Trailers for Affirm Films (2:41), War Room (2:19), Courageous (2:31), Fireproof (2:18), Facing the Giants (2:18), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2:15).
Overcomer combines elements of a family-friendly sports drama with a character drama about identity and forgiveness, as well as elements of faith and belief in a higher power. The result is a solidly entertaining and emotional film. Sony’s release looks and sounds great, and contains a wealth of bonus material. This will likely be a must-own for fans of the Kendrick brothers’ previous work, but also an easy recommendation for those looking for a fun and heartwarming drama that the whole family can enjoy.