Movie Review: Heritage Falls

Lisa HollowayBy Lisa HollowaySeptember 2, 20226 Minutes

Heritage Falls is an entertaining comedy-drama about the joys of father-son relationships during a camping trip. At the heart of the story are the patriarch, Coach Charlie Fitzpatrick (David Keith, The Class), his bookworm son Evan (Coby Ryan McLaughlin, Graceland), and the musician grandson Markie (Keean Johnson, Nashville).

There are a lot of reasons to laugh — the round of Ice Breakers (Mom’s idea) comes to mind: “What kind of tree would you be and why?” “I would be a leaf, so I could leave.” What???

But don’t let that fool you. At its core, Heritage Falls tells a story about things that matter deeply. Things like acceptance. A sense that you’re valued by the people you love most — even when you’re very different.

Why Aren’t You More Like Me?

The Fitzpatricks have a lot of differences.

Coach Charlie is all about sports and was the “winningest” high school basketball coach in Georgia history. The daughter, Harvey, is actually most like him — girls’ basketball champ and prom queen. Evan, on the other hand, loves books. He made a go as a novelist and now runs a local bookstore with his wife, Heather. Grandson Markie wants to drop out of college and travel with a folk band. He combines the creativity of his father with his grandpa’s drive.

Their handling of differences is where the men run into problems. Despite the best efforts of the Fitzpatrick women, played winningly by Nancy Stafford (Matlock, The Mulligan), Sydney Penny (Pale Rider), and Devon Ogden (The Founder), the men keep clashing.

They’re not alone in this. I see it all the time in my own friends and family. It’s easy to enjoy those who share our interests or validate our choices. The unfortunate downside is that it can often lead to seeing our own qualities as somehow superior or desirable, instead of — well — just different.

And God has a lot of room for differences in the Body of Christ. In fact, He reminds us most vividly that:

“The body does not consist of one member but of many … If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose” (1 Corinthians 12:13-19 ESV).

A Root of Bitterness

Charlie, Evan, and Markie aren’t seeing how much more they can be together, with all their differences. And because they’re not seeing the value of each other’s talents, their relationships are tense, to say the least.

Evan doesn’t show up for Charlie’s big retirement bash — one in which Charlie is lauded as the father-figure for years of basketball players, including the principal (T.C. Stallings, God’s Compass). Evan talks at his son, Markie, not with him. And he can’t sit down with his father, Charlie, without dripping acid into every conversation.

It’s easy to see why the book of Hebrews warned against bitterness:

“Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT).

Clearly, a “root of bitterness” has grown up in Evan. But rather than pick on Evan, let’s pause and rewind. Often the intensity of the bitterness reflects the depth of the hurt.

So what’s at the root of the bitterness?

‘You Forced Him to Try Out, Then You Cut Him?’

Both Charlie and Evan have a blind spot when it comes to their sons — ironically, the same one. That is, they fail to see their sons as separate people with their own gifts and calling. Each tries to remake his son in his own image — and views his son as a failure for not being good enough at being like Dad.

Case in point: Evan has always loved books and writing, not sports. But as a teenager, this creative boy who loved his father deeply was forced to try out for the basketball team — then got cut for not being good enough. Ouch.

Now we know where the bitterness began. And we also know why the unexpected guys’ trip to camp at Heritage Falls — formerly a team-only event — is a big deal, since Evan was never part of his dad’s team.

Team. One. Family.

Of course, each man brings his own stubbornness and brokenness with him on the Heritage Falls trip, producing a comedy of errors and chaos.

No plot spoilers. But something is different this time, and it all starts with a book.

Watch this well-produced family film, Heritage Falls, to find out how the Fitzpatrick men learn to love their differences and come to embody Coach’s old locker room sign:

“We are a team.
We are one.
We are family.”

Click here to Heritage Falls on Inspiration on Demand.