I have mixed feelings about the faith-based film For the Glory. Realtors Chris and Katherine Craddock wrote this screenplay about their fellow church member Kurt Kuykendall. His faith helped him overcome a privileged but difficult upbringing.
The film depicts Kuykendall as growing up with an alcoholic mother and workaholic father. Back in the 1970s, they are enraged when Kurt is cut from his college basketball team. With urging from his fraternity brothers, he becomes the frat’s soccer goalkeeper, even though he protests,
“Soccer is for pansies”– a young Kurt Kuykendall
Within a few months, Kurt becomes the starting GK for the school’s NCAA Division 1 team, and within a few years he is called up to the 1974 US Olympic team training squad. Although the film stops there, Kurt eventually went on to play for the New York Cosmos.
Parts of the film are engaging in its portrayal of college life. Jason Burkey (Kurt) reminds me very much of Jake Gyllenhaal in Bubble Boy. In real life, Kurt attributes his success to God, but the film mostly soft-peddles its religious message until the credits roll. Mostly the film is about shy college guy Jake—oh I mean Kurt—winning virginous college girl’s heart while working very hard to overcome his relentlessly disappointed parental naysayers and other barriers.
The soccer action is tuned in on the goalkeeper and is more of a metaphor for the game. It acknowledges the uphill battle soccer faced to become relevant.
More fiction than fact?
The thing that bothers me about this film is its believability. Of course for the sake of drama, a biopic alters facts, modifying characters and events to enhance the story. But this story implies that Kurt’s disapproving father is a politician or lawyer on Capitol Hill with an alcoholic wife named Marcy.
I just couldn’t find any evidence of either such person named Kuykendall. The mother’s alcoholic behavior is portrayed as over the top harpy, but everyone seems to pretend it’s not happening, and she’s never confronted–which seems unrealistic. I also could find no reference to Kurt’s upbringing in any interviews, which makes me suspect the dysfunctional family angle is fictional and thus manipulative. Even the movie’s impression that Kurt made the Olympic team is not technically true.
A successful soccer dad
Kurt and Sherry Kuykendall went on to home-school their 5 kids, who were poster children for the Home School Legal Defense Association. All 5 became Division 1 college midfielders. Said Kurt:
“From when they were ages 5 to 13, we would get up at 7:30, go into the basement and do technical training for one hour Monday through Friday”– dad Kurt Kuykendall
A product of the Fundamentalist Christian film industry
Further research led to my mixed feelings. I found there appears to be an insular Fundamentalist Christian film industry that makes movies for its adherents to watch, using only cast members, directors, writers, and staff of the same beliefs. Producer Chris Rogers and his companies CDR Communications and 1VoiceFilms are major funders and partners of the Cornwall Alliance, a group that denies climate change.
I feel that supporting such filmmakers supports the evangelical right wing conservatives of this country. In their religious zeal to win at any cost, they unfortunately elected the most vulgar, immoral, and possibly demented president in American history.
So, based on my beliefs and suspicions, while this soccer movie has good points, I don’t recommend watching this faith-based film, because I cannot support the evangelical right and its #AlternativeFacts.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6
- Released: 2012 (USA)
- Director: Donald Leow
- Stars: Jason Burkey
- The Trailer