Nick Searcy jokingly apologizes for his bare-knuckled Twitter account in his documentary, “America, America, God Shed His Grace on Thee.”
He needn’t have bothered.
The film’s tone bears more than a passing resemblance to Searcy’s social media presence. It’s direct, satirical and impossible to ignore. It’s also smart as heck, weaving the country’s spiritual origins to the current battle faith-based Americans are fighting today due to the pandemic and progressive overreach.
Searcy, serving as both star and producer, does a sharp variation on the Michael Moore Everyman shtick in the documentary. Only Searcy has facts and research at his back, not bluster and baloney.
The “Justified” alum walks us through the country’s founding with a heaping helping of humor and insight.
The film’s first third reconstructs the American experiment, recalling the critical role faith played in the nation’s creation. It’s a history lesson without the snores, a feisty reminder we should have been taught in elementary school.
Later, Searcy details how local and state governments are using the current pandemic to restrict faithful gatherings, often ignoring science in the process. It’s impossible to watch “America, America” and not recall a certain New York governor declaring war on Manhattan’s Jewish population while looking the other way as Black Lives Matter conducts its “mostly peaceful” protests.
And, of course, those nationwide riots get a closeup, too, along with images of burning Bibles and churches. The latter wasn’t taken seriously by the mainstream press.
Searcy and co. correct the record.
A series of sober talking heads including The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro and Michael Knowles explore the U.S.-faith connection throughout the film, noting how liberty and free expression flow from Christian tenets without demanding its people pray to a particular god.
It isn’t a call to church or prayer, at least not until the end, but an acknowledgement of how Judeo-Christian values shaped the country, its government and its philosophy.
It still does, or at least it does on paper.
Modern progressives, the film argues, are chipping away at faith, to put it kindly. The State is the god we should worship, and they diminish spiritual matters whenever possible.
We’ve seen parts of this story play out before, as the film reminds us with Soviet-era snippets.
Searcy’s acting credentials are well established, with sturdy work in films and TV over the last two-plus decades. His behind-the scenes efforts deserve growing consideration.
He steered the indie “Gosnell” feature from a crowd-funding triumph to a smackdown of reporters who ignored a certifiable monster in our midst. That directorial effort showed how a movie could send a message without using the ALL CAPS function preferred by modern Hollywood.
Now, he’s corralled a crush of information into a tightly packaged format, coordinating with director Chris Burgard.
Searcy blends humor with serious lessons throughout the documentary. A few micro moments feel unnecessary, like a celebratory cake cutting sequence with beleaguered baker Jack Phillips.
Otherwise, the documentary balances the material, and approach, with a firm but knowing touch.
In lesser hands, “America, America” would be overreaching by connecting faith to everything from Big Tech censorship to the silencing of lockdown critics.
The issues are woven delicately, but firmly, into the bigger picture. It makes the documentary even more urgent given how the media and select Democrats demonize right-leaning Christians.
Just consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Exhibits A, C and B.
The film mostly features conservative voices, from Dennis Prager to Charlie Kirk. One notable exception is Andrew Young, who breaks down both faith and human decency in show-stopping ways. The activist’s tale of his personal ties to a racist prison guard is simple and mesmerizing.
It’s exactly the kind of confession modern progressives loathe, witness their reaction to racial harmony movies like “Green Book” and “The Best of Enemies,” the latter co-starring a certain documentary star.
Searcy is a character actor by trade, but he’s finding a new direction as a Hollywood “insider” creating stories the industry is loathe to explore.
“America, America, God Shed His Grace on Thee” bodes well for his future projects while showing he’s the right man for the job.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.