Only One Way tries to do a lot. It undoubtedly tries to present a positive message about faith in Jesus Christ. It advocates for homeschooling. It tries to present a prodigal-son feel to a movie minus a few of the critical elements that made Jesus’s parable so powerful.
It tries to do all this through Paul (Josiah David Warren), who graduated first in his class. He was home-schooled, he jokes, but at the goading of so-called friends is now is trying to become a “real man.” That means moving out of the house at the tender age of 20, which reduces his mother to tears. Paul was a faithful, Bible study attendee until going out on his own, but his first taste of freedom doesn’t go too well.
If the movie is trying to say no good deed goes unpunished, it couldn’t do much better than when Paul sees a damsel in distress with a flat tire. He helps her out and she latches onto him like a tick. Melanie (Erika Murray) deems him “my new boyfriend” (Paul is surprised), and not long thereafter asks him to marry her (Paul is really surprised). She’s pushy and leads him down the road to drinking and drugs, though the depictions of this are pretty tame. She’s a bit heartless, too: she calls him to say she’s about to commit suicide, just to lure him to a party. Really?
Not only is Melanie a long way from being marriage material, Paul is a long way from being marriage-ready. Every time he looks in the fridge, he’s surprised to find it empty—a stretch, given that he lives alone. The best he can do is a job delivering chicken, which on one occasion he spills on the lawn (tries to hide that by picking the grass out of the wishbone) and then on the porch, and somehow the customer still shells out 15 bucks for it. Customer service like that doesn’t pay the bills, and soon Paul finds his possessions on the outside of his apartment. Why anyone tries to stick their key in the lock after that is puzzling—of course, it will no longer fit—but that’s how the movie does a good job of showing how unprepared for the real world Paul is.
Like the prodigal son, Paul finally hits rock-bottom and comes to his senses. Living in a car with your dog will take you there. He phones his mom requesting to return home, which is the answer to his mother’s prayers. And this movie answers the prayers of those who believe it merits the Dove-Approved Seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
If you’re looking for a cautionary tale that might prove the biblical adage from 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company ruins good morals,” this is a movie that tries hard to fill that void.