So, the big question on everybody's mind is, is The Second Chance better than The Gospel? Hell yes!
The Second Chance - good news - is probably the best movie of its type that I've ever seen. The bad news is, the competition for overtly Christian movies is weak at best, and generally severely restrictive.
The acting is fine, the directing is fine (capable, according to the NY Times), the writing had some sharp dialogue but few surprises (although I don't want to suggest that it was cliched. It really had some poignant lines, including, "I'm not a social worker!" - delivered by the white associate pastor [Ethan, played by Michael W. Smith] as he was being sent down to work in the black urban church). The best review that I found was written by Peter T. Chattaway, whom, if memory serves me (and it sometimes does) is a fellow Steve Taylor fanatic. Chattaway notes that Taylor's film - although not as quirky or funny as Taylor-heads would love to imagine that it would be - does bring about some interesting questions, notably why the black, inner-city pastor is rarely questioned by the film for his bits of righteous indignation. A not entirely smooth transition is made in a sermon between Malcolm X's "Plymouth Rock statement" and his new faith of the Rock that doesn't shift, even as buildings and loyalties do.
Another interesting thing I thought was how some of the youth from my church reacted to the dispositions of the three pastors. Much like myself, these young'uns grew up in the church. And much like myself at their age, they see everything within the church as black & white, right or wrong. So the pastors, in their minds, because they struggled and did things that a pastor shouldn't do (throw gangbangers up against a gate, for instance. Swear. Stand idly by as others dictate the direction of the church. Wear Gucci.) were hypocrites. But as I got to reflect on that, I thought, "That's nice, the pastors are real people, with real struggles." Not deep in despair, not brooding with doubt or secret lives. Not happy-go-lucky with all of the answers. Not simple or simplistic. Real people with real issues and convictions and fears. Just like the pastors I know in real life. And everybody else.
Oh, yeah. And there's an added bonus with an LA Symphony (w/ Pigeon John guesting) song in the background during a scene (although it would've been mad cool if some dookie-fly b-boy was breakdancing to it in his Addidas and a large ghetto blaster).