‘Walking with Herb’ movie: Fun sports drama, inspiring second chances

By Rusty Wright

Need a fun, refreshing break from COVID-world?  How about some laughs, mixed with high-level sports drama plus some inspiring second-chance stories woven in for good measure?  Veteran actor Edward James Olmos and comic George Lopez will make you chuckle as you ponder in Walking with Herb.

This entertaining fictional story – about family, golf, shattered dreams, true greatness, and divine ways – grabbed and held my attention and got me pulling for positive outcomes.  The cast includes Academy Award® nominee and Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner Olmos (Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica), Oscar® nominee Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13), and popular comedian Lopez (George Lopez Show). 

Losing faith

In the movie, Joe Amable-Amo (Olmos) is a disillusioned bank executive and father.  Family tragedies have left him wondering how a good God could let bad things happen to upright and innocent people. His wife Sheila (Quinlan) encourages him to have faith. Joe loves her, but the pain of loss keeps him questioning. 

Into his life comes Herb (Lopez), a wisecracking, fun-loving motorcyclist divinely assigned to assist Joe’s special mission.  Would you believe this involves Joe, age 65, playing in professional golf’s top championship tourney?

Herb becomes Joe’s coach and caddy.  As Joe re-learns the game he’s not played in decades, Herb helps his pupil overcome discouragement and see divine hands in a needy world.  Calling himself Joe’s “Director of High Jinks,” Herb counsels, “God…will never allow you to be tested beyond your ability.”

By film’s end, Joe realizes…well, I’d better let you enjoy discovering that for yourself.

Heart-warming and funny

Olmos notes. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had working on a film. …An amazing script and an excellent cast combine for a heart-warming, funny story about golf, belief and second chances.”

Actually, I’m a bit surprised that I warmed to a movie about golf.  Though my childhood backyard opened onto a Miami golf course, I’ve never played.  The closest I came was lessons at summer camp, but my chief accomplishment was breaking a window in the camp chapel.

Golf etiquette and ethics

Come to think of it, though, my siblings and I did learn about golf technique, psychology, etiquette and ethics.  We used to hide a walkie-talkie (locked in “speaker mode”) in the bushes near a sand trap a few feet from our property line.  We watched from inside the house as unsuspecting golfers began to hit their ball out of the trap.  On their backswing, we’d announce – via the walkie-talkie – “Don’t forget to keep your head down.”

Occasionally, golf balls would land in our yard.  As ethically-raised kids, we never took a ball unless a golfer passed by without retrieving it.  But, of course, we thought nothing of covering the errant ball with a large almond leaf as soon as it landed.  And after hurricanes, it was fun to venture onto the wet, empty course to fetch golf balls shaken loose by the wind from the palm trees where they had become lodged over the years.

Now, as an adult who’s weathered many life storms and has often asked questions similar to Joe’s, I can appreciate the lessons about following God through troubled times and trusting him to “cause…everything to work together for the good of those who love [him].”

Walking with Herb reminded me of several distinguished media precursors.  Like C.S. Lewis novels, it uses fictional depictions of classic human dilemmas to help audiences consider deific remedies.  Like television’s Touched by an Angel, it artfully portrays a divine messenger advising a struggling protagonist.  And like Mark Twain, it effectively uses droll dialogue to entertain and drive home important life lessons. 

Uplifting, and well worth watching.

www.WalkingWithHerbMovie.com   In US theaters May 7.

Rated PG (USA) “for some mature thematic elements and brief language.”

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.  www.RustyWright.com

Copyright © 2021 Rusty Wright

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‘Walking with Herb’ film poster. Image: Courtesy Walking with Herb Movie.
Herb (George Lopez) and Joe (Edward James Olmos) share a laugh on the golf course. Image: Optimism Entertainment; Courtesy and © 2021 Walking with Herb Movie. All rights reserved.
Biker, and unlikely divine messenger, Herb (George Lopez). Image: Courtesy and © 2021 Walking with Herb Movie. All rights reserved.
Herb, Joe and Sheila on the course. Image: Courtesy and © 2021 Walking with Herb Movie. All rights reserved.
Herb, Joe, and golfing rivals. Image: Optimism Entertainment; Courtesy and © 2021 Walking with Herb Movie. All rights reserved.