the explosive success of Sherwood Pictures’s third release, Fireproof,
it has become obvious that the world has recognized the epidemic of
failed and broken relationships and decided to see what the church has
to say about it. It is a blessing that comes with incredible
responsibility, and it seems that Sherwood Pictures isn’t the only one
willing to take on the responsibility. Screen Gems and TD Jakes
Ministries teamed up to produce their own movie aimed at strengthening
marriages and families.
Not Easily Broken
is a movie that was adapted by Brian Bird from a TD Jakes novel of the
same name. As a veteran pastor, Jakes has years of experience
counseling people coping with the fallout of infidelity, separation,
and divorce. As a writer, Jakes embraced the opportunity to write a
novel as “a catalyst for a bigger conversation.” He saw it as a chance
to show his readers that couples can’t succeed in marriage without the
help of God.
In TD Jakes’s novel, Dave and
Clarice Johnson are just like millions of other couples in America.
Full of hope and love, they get married and set out to reach the stars
together. After several years have passed, Dave has built a business
that he enjoys and fulfills him. Clarice, however, just can’t seem to
get enough. Not enough success or money or independence. And she can’t
understand how Dave can be satisfied with a job that she sees as being
beneath them both.
Even as Dave and Clarice
struggle to maintain peace in their tenuous relationship, tragedy
strikes. On their way to an award ceremony for Clarice, a truck slams
into their vehicle, crushing Clarice’s leg. Surgery saves her leg, but
the injury endangers the one thing Clarice treasures the most—her
independence. Fighting depression, Clarice begins physical therapy to
regain the use of her leg. But when Julie, Clarice’s beautiful physical
therapist, befriends Dave, the Johnsons have to decide whether their
marriage is worth fighting to save.
I have seen and heard TD Jakes
preach. I think that several years ago, I saw the TV version of his Woman,
Thou Art Loosed. But I had never read any of his novels. I
was hooked by the end of the first line.
the time Dave Johnson saw the oncoming headlights it was too late to do
anything but hold on and pray."
From the first page, I was
captivated by the action. By the time the crisis of the wreck ended and
the rest of the story began, I had made three decisions: I loved Dave.
I couldn’t stand Clarice. And TD Jakes is an impressive writer!
Jakes doesn’t just craft an
engaging story. He also achieves his goal of provoking thought and
conversation about godly marriage. The reader is confronted by the
realities of a dissolving marriage and the possibility of God’s healing
that same marriage. Jakes shows the reader that “love can endure” and
that “love is stronger than infidelity.”
Seeing TD Jakes’s name on the
cover of the DVD was enough to convince me that the movie was going to
be powerful. I was excited to see Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson
as Dave and
respectively. Jenifer Lewis also joined the
talented cast as Dave’s hateful mother-in-law. The actors are
believable and skilled. In fact, Henson and Lewis’s performances are
This movie has some significant
strengths. It is a realistic portrayal of a marriage in trouble. Unlike
most relationship-focused movies, Not Easily Broken
is seen mostly from the man’s perspective and so it gives some great
insight to which the normal audience wouldn’t have access. Normally,
men are portrayed as uncommunicative partners who refuse to discuss
their feelings even among other men. But this movie flips that old
stereotype on its head and depicts men who feel deeply and share those
feelings openly with their brothers.
as much as I admire the
purpose and the poignancy of this movie, I don’t feel that it lived up
to the standard that Jakes set in the novel. In short, I was
This movie had two major
weaknesses. The first thing I struggled with was that there were
drastic changes between the book and the movie. Dave’s best friend,
Brock, obviously a Christian in the book, is not a Christian in the
movie. In the book, Brock was an accountability partner of sorts for
Dave, giving him guidance and advice. But in the movie, Brock is the
opposite—a womanizer who feeds Dave’s carnality. The screenwriter then
added two prominent characters that had not appeared in the book. He
spent so much time focusing on them and their subplots that there is
almost no chance to get to know Julie—a major player in Dave and
Clarice’s marital problems.
The second major weakness I saw
in the film was the prominent use of profanity. I live in the real,
secular, unsaved world so I hear profanity every day. But when I watch
a movie with Christian names stamped on the cover that is based on a
Christian novel, I expect to hear language that I feel exalts the
Christ whose name we wear. In the book, TD Jakes is able to clearly and
honestly share the story of Dave and Clarice without ever using
inappropriate language. The movie, however, cannot make this same
claim. Throughout the entirety of the movie, profanity is consistently
used. I was offended by it and because of that, I am hesitant to
recommend it to many of my family and friends who I know would also be
offended by it.
This month, I have to choose the
novel, Not Easily Broken, over the movie version.
While the movie has solid acting, the novel has the solid,
undisputable, and uncompromising message for making God the center of
marriage and of life.
*All quotes are taken from the
special features on the Not Easily Broken DVD.