“God Bless the Broken Road” is an odd-ball combination. There is a Christian view on life that goes from being overly preachy to almost an afterthought. There is a main plot of a woman recently widowed, who gets a treatment straight out of the Book of Job. After her husband dies in Afghanistan, all sorts of tribulations befall her. She doubts her faith, and loses her house and even her young daughter turns against her. Yet at the same time, there is a sub-plot that is straight out of the movie “Cars”. A hot-shot driver meets up with an old-timey mentor who can teach him out to ‘correctly take the turns’, both on the track and in real life.
Amber Hill (Lindsay Pulsipher) lives is an ideal little town located in the heart of Kentucky. Everything is perfect, with all of her friends at the local church. She is a choir leader and she loves her husband, who is off in a war overseas. She loves her little daughter Bree (Makenzie Moss) who spouts off some cute biblical sayings when times are tough. Her friends at church are Karena (Robin Givens) and her daughter Bridgette (Jordin Sparks). The church is led by Pastor Williams (LaDainian Tomlinson) who is a linebacker-size preacher.
But after Amber’s husband is killed in battle, everything falls apart. Two years later, she has not recovered from the shock and the grief. She stops going to church and she works a lot more hours at the diner. Many more things are working against her, including a mother-in-law Patti (Kim Delaney) who always seems to criticize her. Bree is getting worried that her mom is giving up on her life. Amber is missing payments on the house, so the bank is getting ready to foreclose. Her van is held together with duct tape and bungee cords.
But a super-cool NASCAR driver named Cody Jackson (Andrew W. Walker) comes to town to work with a guy named Joe Carter (Gary Grubbs). Joe is master mechanic and a NASCAR driving coach. Cody is having problems with the turns and he only has the need for speed. He is being sent down to the minors for a while to pick up tips from Joe on how to drive fast, but still make the corners without spinning out. Cody meets Bree at the church, where he get ‘volunteered’ by Joe. There is a go-kart club that they start up for the youth group. Cody feels an attraction to Amber, and tings might get serious.
If this sounds like it is meandering and unfocused, then I have correctly described the plot. Just think of Amber as a Biblical version of Job, and think of Cody as Lightning McQueen. Amber’s life continues to crumble around her. She is a widow with very little money, the house is taken away, Bree runs away and then decides that staying with her Grandma Patti is better then her own mom, Amber.
The acting is stiff and wooden, except for Gary Grubbs (as Joe). The whole story-line is strained and fuzzy. The child actors are not up to today’s excellent standards. The melding of small-town religion and NASCAR idolatry seems to be forced. The movie shares only the (extended) name in common with a Rascal Flatts country song (“Bless the Broken Road”).
“God Bless the Broken Road” is a poor attempt to make an uplifting, spiritually strong movie. It’s in not even clear if that was the intention of this production. This might be a re-envisioning of “Talladega Nights”, for all I know. Know that this movie was better as a song.
God may bless this “Broken Road” – but sure as the devil, you don’t need to sit through it.