Billy: The Early Years
PG
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +4

Armie Hammer, Martin Landau, Lindsay Wagner, Stefanie Butler, Josh Turner. Drama/religious bio pic. Directed by veteran actor/director and Golden Globe nominee, Robby Benson.

FILM SYNOPSIS:The film paints a vivid portrait of Billy Graham against the backdrop of his relationship with the evangelical star of the 1940s, Charles Templeton, a gifted young preacher whose faith would not withstand the onslaught of scientific skepticism. Templeton and Graham eventually part ways, and in the film Templeton comes to personify the rising tide of disbelief into which Graham launched his crusades.

The film launch will also encompass a number of strategic marketing elements, including more than 50 VIP screenings in key markets, a soundtrack highlighting Christian and country music artists, key events built around Grahams 90th birthday, a novel of the work published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and an upcoming home entertainment DVD release.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Though the title tells it all, its not all that creative, is it? Why not: Just As I Am? Still, thats about the only problem I have with this film effort. I feared it would fall into the same trap as most biographical efforts by aggrandizing the spotlighted famous figure or reducing supporting characters to caricatures. But it somewhat surprised and definitely pleased me with the lush look and smart script. And the producers wisely peppered their cast of characters with seasoned showfolk. Martin Landau is poignant as Charles Templeton, and Lindsay Wagner, the one-time Bionic Woman, infuses her small but pivotal role as Billys patient and wise mother with dimension and a transcendent plainness. But you cant have a film about Billy Graham without an effective lead actor. Fortunately, Armie Hammer fits the bill (or Billy sorry, couldnt help myself). The young Mr. Hammer (Veronica Mars, Flicka) captures the look, the mannerisms, and most importantly, the inner motivation of Dr. Graham.

Stand-out moment: Billys conversion. Ive seen enough conversion scenes in church movies (even been in a few) that seemed forced and phony. Here, the ethereal transformation is done so effectively that it will likely cause some viewers to summon up the moment the Holy Spirit introduced them to Christ. And very possibly, nonbelievers will sense something intangible but real, with the power to change a lifes direction.

Despite a limpid title that begs ridicule, this take on a man willing to say, Take me Lord, just as I am, is compelling, inspiring and downright entertaining.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Rocky Mountain Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language:
Profanity: None
Violence: We see historical film footage of holocaust victims, this is hard to view, but the scene is brief and serves a purpose; we see a dying, bloodied child wheeled on a gurney through a hospital these two tableaus are presented to raise Templetons loss of faith as he cant find an answer to How can a loving God.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Older

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