At one point, a character in this movie says, “You’re passionate, but it blinds you to the reality of procedure.” He’s talking about a court case, but it could also be an early candidate for the year’s least self-aware bit of dialogue. Because like the hit 2014 original, this follow-up—mostly focused on a high-school history teacher (Melissa Joan Hart) being prosecuted for talking about Jesus in her classroom—is almost proudly unconcerned with whether it makes a lick of sense, as long as it stays on message. In some ways it’s less baldly incompetent than its predecessor, if for no other reason than it replaces Kevin Sorbo with Hart in its biggest starring role. But it’s still a melodrama, one where our Christian hero selflessly takes care of her housebound grandfather (Pat Boone), and where the villainous ACLU attorney (Ray Wise) openly hates Christianity while loving the cleanliness of his shoes. And it’s constructed almost entirely of straw men, never once bothering to explain the actual rules/laws that Hart’s teacher is charged with violating, which allows for a pivot to making the case all about proving that the historical Jesus existed. Give credit to Wise for sinking his teeth into his part; he gets that this thing is about nothing but rousing the rabble, and continuing a franchise built on speciously-sourced martyrdom.
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