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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Tranny in the Trinity, Cousin in the Cavern

The Shack (2017) on IMDb

Plot Overview

One 13-year-old Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips (Carson Reaume,) born in the midwest, has family problems. When his farming father misjudges the weather vis à vis the crops, it stresses him out and he turns to drink. Once drunk he beats Mack's mom. When Mack tries to inter­vene, he gets whipped while he is made to recite—his dad being an elder in the church:—(Col. 3:20) “Obey your parents in every­thing for this pleases the Lord.” The wording shows it to be from the New International Version (NIV) whose New Testament was first published in 1973, setting our time­line's earliest date. Mack would have left the farm and his sorry family once he turned 18, five years later. He ended up in the Pacific North­west that has more predictable weather patterns, ones less severe. The bulk of the movie takes place after an unusual winter storm characterized by Mack as “the worst snow storm I've seen in thirty years.” Tack another thirty years onto the start of the movie and we get 1973+5+30=2008.

snow blowerWhile an adult Mack (Sam Worthington) is clearing snow from his drive­way he slips and bumps his head on the pavement. He has a flash­back of a family tragedy that occurred in a state park while on vacation. When he comes to, he finds his mailbox that had been closed with the flag down now has the flag up and contains a cryptic note from God inviting him to the wood­land shack associated with the tragedy. When Mack checks at the post office about that letter, the postman points out that since there was no stamp on it, it didn't come through regular mail service. Weird. On the wall behind the post­master hangs a portrait of President Obama who wasn't well known until his election in 2008, then he served two terms. That gives us an eight year time frame around the main story, and we can project that back to its start giving us a window of 1973–1981 for the boyhood scenes.

What occurred during those earlier years? According to Rush Limbaugh, “It's almost as if America went through its own feminist Cultural Revolution in the 1970s and early 1980s. Every­thing went mad for about ten years, and only now are we seeing young people who now view those years as some­what bizarre” (191). In answer to his boy­hood prayer, Mack now has a sensible wife Nan (Radha Mitchell) who is the “glue that holds this family together.” He quotes from the King James Version, and their church sings traditional hymns. Some­how, getting the woman straightened out helped the whole family. Mack just needs some alone time to go over some faith matters he's struggling with. There's a heavy dollop of political correctness to distract us—as in a magician's trick—from considering the responsibility God gives a mother and wife to ameliorate family tensions. It had to be brought in under the radar, as it were.


house on a hillMack has a cozy visit in the cabin with the three Persons of the Holy Trinity in all their politically correct diversity. I won't say there haven't been worse depictions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in unity, but they generally don't make their way into print. Here these divine beings are: a cook, a carpenter, and a gardener. Okay. Later Mack will connect up with Wisdom personified (Alice Braga), but Wisdom doesn't have the juice to sit in the big house with the others. She is consigned to a dark cave, a grotto with a hidden entrance as well.

Wisdom is not unacquainted with houses. (Prov. 9:1) “Wisdom hath builded her house.” A well furnished shack would be right up her alley. (Prov. 24:3) “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by under­standing it is established.” Further­more, one would expect her to be at the table when guests arrive. (Prov. 7:4) “Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call under­standing thy kinswoman.” So here we have Mack socializing with divine beings, but Wisdom isn't there.

Mack can quote the words of Jesus on the cross, but he hasn't a clue about the wisdom books of the Apocrypha. (Sirach 9:13) “Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill; so shalt thou not doubt the fear of death: and if thou come unto him, make no fault, lest he take away thy life presently: remember that thou goest in the midst of snares, and that thou walkest upon the battlements of the city.” Applied to the disastrous outing at Wallowa State Park, his daughter Kate (Megan Charpentier) lost her healthy respect for water safety, and the super­vising adult lost sight that there could be dangerous predators lurking about in the park to avoid capture. A water accident can happen by falling in, and a child could be ensnared by the pedo. There's a legend Mack tells about a princess and the falls. It illustrates that some­times one party can be saved at the expense of another. His wife being tied up at a seminar, Mack was left to monitor all three of their children by him­self making it difficult to watch them all at the same time. He should have enlisted one of the other friendly families there to share with him the duties, but he wasn't in tight with Wisdom.

Production Values

” (2017) was directed by Stuart Hazeldine. Its screenplay was written by John Fusco, Andrew Lanham and Destin Daniel Cretton. The movie is based on the novel The Shack, by William P. Young, Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. It stars Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Radha Mitchell, Avraham Aviv Alush, Sumire, Graham Greene, Alice Braga and Tim McGraw. Worthington did great playing the lead, but his midwest accent could have used some work. Mrs. Spencer was miscast playing God the father, feminism be damned. Graham Greene alternating in that role pulled it off. Avraham Aviv Alush as Jesus worked well enough. Even Sumire as the Holy Spirit was surprisingly convincing. These three unlikely characters in the plot were redeemed by extraordinary acting.

The story was boring, the background music soporific, the editing choppy, and the special effects too cute by half. As for age approp­riate­ness I think it's more a question of keeping them awake than anything else.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

There's a (true) story about a seasoned skydiving instructor who wanted to film a jump. He punctiliously set up his camera and strapped it on. Then he jumped. With­out his parachute. I imagine an engineer reviewing the recovered film could point out three vectors in play: gravity pulling down, air resistance pushing back up, and the forward momentum derived from the plane. Each of these vectors guides the jumper all the way down to the ground, but he has only one trajectory. It's kind of a trinity, three in one.

A curious viewer might ask about the parachute: Isn't it supposed to be buckled on tight, as one is in tight with his sister or with other kin? It's not supposed to be left stuffed in a dark storage hold on the plane, is it? Yes, there is that.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Predictable. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Unless otherwise noted, scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.

Scripture quotations marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Print.

Limbaugh, Rush. The Way Things Ought To Be. New York: Pocket Books, 1992. Print.