Rob Decker (Ryan Sharoun) has built his own successful sports agency, a business around which his high-powered life revolves. However, a quest to sign Shawn Hart, a talented young baseball player, leaves Decker stranded in small-town America when his car breaks down in the new Christian movie “Ring the Bell.” If this sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because so many movies use this plot device including the recent Christian movies “Pieces of Easter” and “Seven Days in Utopia.”
Determined to recruit the top high school baseball prospect in the country, even though the boy has made other commitments, Decker pursues Hart across Middletown, meeting his friends and neighbors along the way. At the spring festival, Decker meets Daisy Cook (Ashley Anderson McCarthy) who along with her brother, runs the boys ranch where Hart lives. While visiting Daisy at the Cook ranch, Rob sees an unusual ceremony when a young man comes out of the house and rings a dinner bell, and everyone stops what they are doing to run hug him.
When Decker goes to the town’s alumni ball game, a pitcher named Danny Cook (former Lipscomb University ball player-turned-actor Casey Bond) catches his eye, and soon Decker realizes he might have found an even better signing prospect than Shawn Hart. However, it turns out Cook is Daisy’s brother who runs the boys ranch. As Decker gets to know the people of Middletown and hears their stories, he discovers there might be more to life than representing star athletes.
Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman makes an early and somewhat wooden appearance as local pastor “Steve” who welcomes Rob to Middletown. As Rob walks through town, he passes a theater advertising an upcoming concert with Casting Crowns–a concert Rob ends up attending with the boys from the ranch. Matthew West also has a role in the movie and several other musicians have small roles.
Ryan Sharoun turns in a believable performance as the annoying high-pressure sports agent as well as a man struggling to find his way; Casey Bonds is almost riveting as a former local sports star; and Ashley Anderson McCarthy is sweet as a small-town girl of faith. However, other performances are mildly to moderately lackluster, especially the annoyingly cutesy Maggie who has too much screen time.
“Ring the Bell” is a a family-friendly, church-friendly movie that should appeal to fans of Christian music and church groups. With so much Christian concert footage, a lengthy alter call, and history like the Jim Elliott story, the movie is so loaded with preaching as well as musicians who are not actors, it may have a hard time reaching very far outside the church, however. “Ring the Bell” with Ryan Sharoun, Ashley Anderson McCarthy, and Casey Bond released on April 9, 2013, from Provident Films.
Provident Films ‘Ring the Bell’ Features Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Matthew West