The Joyriders

  Is it possible to make a film with a biblical worldview—without destroying its marketability? Well, we're about to find out. This weekend a film called The Joyriders opens in theaters in Dallas and Fort Worth. Starring Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau, The Joyriders is about a 67-year-old Seattlite named Gordon Trout who has come to the end of his rope. Ruined by a dishonest business partner, Trout has not been able to regain either his confidence or his joy of living. He heads for the mall to buy a gun and end it all. But after he makes his deadly purchase, three teenagers con Trout into giving them a ride home. What begins as a joyride ends up as a kidnapping as the kids take over both the car and the gun and head for Mexico. Trout is initially enraged at the teens and tries desperately to escape. But when he appears to be having a heart attack, the kids try to get him help. They end up at a Christian retreat center run by a pastor who knew these kids in Seattle. Trout learns that all three teens have had tremendous family problems. At the urging of the pastor, played by Kris Kristofferson, he grudgingly agrees not to press charges. I won't spoil the ending for you, but what happens next is totally unexpected—and yet totally realistic. It's a powerful story of redemption. And unlike many Hollywood films, this one makes clear that if you make certain choices in life, you will someday have to pay a penalty. The plot reflects a Christian worldview, which is no surprise given that it was Christians who made The Joyriders. Norm Miller, a friend of mine and a successful entrepreneur who heads Interstate Batteries, decided to stop griping about the quality of Hollywood films and do something. So Norm and his wife, Anne, formed their own film company. As Norm explains, "Movies are enormously influential and we believe most filmmakers largely ignore the God-given values of [most Americans.]" But unlike some Christian films, The Joyriders doesn't hit you over the head with a Gospel message. In fact, it's intended as much for unsaved audiences as for churchgoers. Ted Voltmer, co-producer of The Joyriders, says the film should be considered "pre-evangelistic"—the kind you can take an unbelieving friend to and then use it as a jumping off place to start a conversation about Christianity. The Joyriders is rated PG-13 for its mature themes and a few four-letter words. If it does well in Texas, its producers hope to see it playing in theaters all over the country. And they're already planning to make more films. That's great news. Christians spend a lot of time complaining about the trash that comes out of Tinsel Town. Well, The Joyriders is an example of how we can move beyond criticism and boycotts and offer a positive alternative. I hope you'll join me in praying that The Joyriders will reach people all over the country. If you live in Dallas or Fort Worth, why not make a point of seeing this film? If you don't live close enough to see it, wait till it comes to your town, and then take some unsaved friends to view it with you. And don't forget to have a good discussion about it afterward. Who knows? Hollywood may be largely in the hands of pagans, but films like this that deal with Great Questions just might bring our unsaved friends a little closer to God's eternal answers.?


Chuck Colson


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