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The Grace Card

THE GRACE CARD Nowhere near as adroit as its mush-brained title might have you believe, this Christian-themed domestic melodrama uses race as cheap window dressing for easily digestible bromides and a conclusion as foregone as a Family Circus panel. Its plot pivots on movie clichés, too: Memphis beat cops Mac (Michael Joiner), a bitter white guy who hates African-Americans because one killed his young son 17 years earlier, and Sam (Michael Higgenbottom), a cuddly black guy who is also a minister, gradually overcome their differences after being pressed into a reluctant partnership. Before that happens, Mac's other son winds up needing a kidney transplant; two guesses as to who steps up to be the donor, and as to whether or not Mac ultimately gets right with Jesus. Despite its predictability, visual blandness and guileless middle-class pandering (the poor may always be with us, but they're generally out of sight here), The Grace Card at least resists proselytizing: If you don't already believe in a God who assuages all life's ills, this movie isn't out to change your mind. But by refusing to even suggest that racism is a walloping social problem rather than an individual, circumstantial one with an easy fix, it does a rotten job of preaching to the choir. (Mark Holcomb) (AMC Burbank, Regal L.A. Live, Rave 18)