Did you know that September is Deaf Awareness Month? The goal is to bring awareness to the history, the culture, and the realities of being part of the deaf and hard of hearing community. In honor of the occasion, Regal Theaters will be releasing the movie NEVER GIVE UP on September 1, 2023 with open captions.
NEVER GIVE UP is based on the book written by Brad Minns. It is now a feature length film written and directed by Rob Loos, and produced by Rick Eldridge of ReelWorks Studios.
The film is based on the true life experiences of Brad Minns, a man who became deaf at the tender age of 3 years old after a time of sickness and fever. He persevered through all of his scholastic life lip reading- which he learned as a child. He did not learn sign language.
Minns was no stranger to bullying and often felt misunderstood and alone, but his parents saw his potential and channeled his frustrations into tennis instruction. Tennis became his passion, and as a young man, he participated in the ‘World Games For The Deaf’ in 1985, where he is remembered for his victorious comeback in the match he played against Jeff Osborne.
Brad Minns is quoted as saying, “My parents always believed that my hearing loss was not the end… Their faith, their prayers, and their encouragement allowed me to live a life I could have never dreamed. I pray when people see my story they are challenged and inspired to go and run the race that God puts before them.”
I certainly was left feeling “challenged and inspired” after watching this film. Not only because of Brad Minns amazing story, but also because of the encouragement, strength and perseverance of his parents as they confronted each trial and experience.
I have never been personally interested in the sport of tennis, but this movie is more than just a “tennis movie”. It is an “underdog story” with so much heart. It is about personal growth, sportsmanship (or the lack of), about looking past one’s flaws to seeing potential. There are so many other little lessons scattered within the scenes; like, getting through hard things one moment at a time, or “one shot at a time”.
Some of the thought-questions that Brad had are completely relatable. I mean, how many of us have asked these questions like Brad asked them? “When will I stop having to prove myself? How many times do I have to face this… ?
When will it get easier? When will people just accept me for who I am and what I can do?” They are legitimate questions I know I have asked in my own mine at one time or another.
I felt like I learned as I watched. The first tennis trainer Brad had as a kid had some great ideas on how to help Brad learn how to play tennis, even without being able to hear. The skills he taught him carried over into real life, too. I love that he videotaped the lessons so that Brad could rewatch them. The coach told him “Make up for what you CAN’T hear with what you CAN see.” It just feels like a spiritual lesson, too.
Both hearing and deaf actors were used in this film, and it was a wonderful collaboration. It was refreshing to see this unique story on the screen, and I did feel it has so many teachable moments that are useful for building up one’s self and others, too.
As far as negative aspects of this film go… A bully passes gas right by Brad as a way of humiliating him. Brad’s brother, in brother-like fashion, calls him “Dork butt”. Another deaf student shows Brad the way to say “Good morning”, but it was a joke. Instead the student actually showed him how to sign something rather crude. Brad was going around using the sign for “Up yours”.
Overall, I enjoyed NEVER GIVE UP. The positive elements far outweighed any negative. I recommend this film to anyone. I do think that families should use their discretion. There are many moments that can be used for discussion, like the bullying scenes, for example. I know that such things can be a trigger for some who have suffered bullying themselves, but I also think that we can learn so many good things about not letting others hold us back from our destiny and calling. Check it out, and let us know what you think! Blessings!
Erin Bethea, Harrison Stone, Drew Waters, Nicolle Ashley