Minneapolis, Minn. (EP) "Road to Redemption," the first comedy release from Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures, opened in test markets across the country on Feb. 16. The first theatrical release from World Wide Pictures in over a decade is a road trip and a buddy movie, a slapstick comedy with mobsters, car chases and shootouts.
The fast paced comedy is set on the road from Las Vegas to a lake in Montana. Amanda Tucker (played by Julie Condra) and boyfriend Alan Fischer (Jay Underwood) borrowed money from the mob, only to lose it on a fixed horse race. Now they have just a few days to get the money back-or else. Their only hope is Amanda's almost- forgotten wealthy grandfather, Nathan Tucker (Pat Tucker).
Nathan agrees to help on the condition that he and Amanda relive their last time together-a fishing trip to Lake Redemption in Montana. Most of the movie takes place on the road, as Amanda and Nathan head north for fishing, followed by a mob-enforcer and Amanda's weasel of a boyfriend.
"Road to Redemption" has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The over-the-top slapstick in the beginning is made even better by the fact that boyfriend Alan seems to richly deserve all of the pain he suffers. Grandpa Nathan is both compassionate and witty, but is nobody's fool.
The movie also has fun with organized crime stereotypes, from Vincent the Enforcer (Tony Longo) and his secret love for David Cassidy's music, to mob "cleaner" Frank Lightfoot (Wes Studi) and his eerie ability to track anyone, anywhere.
Although Billy Graham's film company has released over 125 films, including nine major motion pictures, this is the first comedy from World Wide Pictures. Presenting the gospel in a comedy setting is a challenge, but "Road to Redemption" handles it fairly well, moving smoothly from serious heart-tugging moments to comic relief.
World Wide Pictures produces films designed to fulfill Billy Graham's vision of reaching all audiences, "Early in my ministry, I recognized the fact that not everyone would respond to the Gospel as the result of personal contact through crusades," Graham said.
World Wide Pictures' last nationwide theatrical release was in the late 80's. World Wide Pictures then sold their studio in Los Angeles and moved the corporate headquarters to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Minneapolis. In their new location they continued to produce films by working with independent producers and releasing the films in churches, on home videos, and as made-for-television movies. "Now we're coming back, prudently," said Roger Flessing, director of communications at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
"Road to Redemption" will be televised nationally in June, and then released on video and DVD.