Three Stars – Wholesome
It is a cliché to present a used car salesman as being greedy. However, to suggest that such behavior can destroy a person unless he turns away from his self-centered greed is a visual parable. Written and directed by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, “Flywheel” is a small budget film which is surprisingly effective. Better in some ways than their more financially successful film “Fireproof,” this earlier film focuses on business practices while “Fireproof” explored marriage.
Staring in the leading role, Alex Kendrick presents a believably ambitious and troubled Jay Austin. Austin has bought into the belief that business is a dog-eat-dog world where you have to take advantage of every customer, even if it is your own pastor, to get ahead. But, such dishonest gain begins to eat at Jay’s soul, his marriage and his business. His wife Judy (Janet Lee Dapper) questions his integrity causing Jay to become predictably angry. But his anger increasingly turns to depression as his lack of integrity causes him to have few repeat customers and his business is going under.
When Austin sees one of his employees selling cars in a way that is ripping off the customers he is convicted, he subsequently watches a television preacher who is used by God to bring insight and change in his life.
This is perhaps the primary weakness of the film. It assumes a Christian worldview. Although Austin is not now following the teachings of Jesus, he is a person who is immersed in Christian community and knows that what he is doing is not right. He knows that if he will come humbly before God and ask for forgiveness, that God can change his life. He does and God responds.
Here the story has some wonderful twists to it that we won’t spoil, but the message is clear: Greed destroys, honesty rewards. That life isn’t always that simple is why the Bible has stories like Job where bad things happen to good people, but it is also true that living God’s ways does bring its rewards - both now and in the future. This is a truth that the film tells well and though simple and straightforward, it is a parable that speaks a truth needed in our materialistic world.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. In your own business life have you been tempted to take selfish advantage of others? What has kept you from doing so?
2. Judy’s love for Jay causes her to question his dishonest gain. But she does it in such a way that makes her appear to be superior or sanctimonious. What do you think would have been a better way?
3. The disappointment that Jay’s son felt toward his father was used as a way to help tell the story. Do you think this was realistic or not?