Review: Djimon Hounsou, Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear elevate drama ‘Same Kind of Different as Me’

Pure Flix and other Christian-oriented distributors have built a solid niche catering to audiences underserved by mainstream cinema, offering faith-based films, usually based on a true story. These movies tend to vary in quality, so when a genuinely affecting drama like “Same Kind of Different as Me” turns up, it’s a welcome surprise.

The film, the feature directorial debut of Michael Carney, boasts a trio of uncommonly sensitive, affecting and nuanced actors in the lead roles. Greg Kinnear stars as Ron Hall, a Texas art dealer, whose perspective on life is profoundly changed by his wife, Debbie (Renée Zellweger), who urges him to serve others, as she does. At a local mission and soup kitchen, they befriend a troubled homeless man, Denver (Djimon Hounsou), who ultimately changes their lives, as they change his.

Based on the bestselling book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, the film’s structure nestles flashbacks inside of flashbacks. And don’t try to do the math with the scenes of Denver’s upbringing — his rearing as a cotton-picking sharecropper in Jim Crow-era South doesn’t quite match up to his perceived age or whatever time period present day is supposed to be.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” takes its time, but the performances by Kinnear, Zellweger and especially Hounsou sneak up on you, building to an emotional, but not overstated climax. Hounsou’s Denver at first tends toward stereotype, full of folksy wisdom, delivered in a deliberate country accent, but he turns it into a fully rendered and deeply felt character, a man with nothing, who has experienced the worst that humanity has to offer, and teaches these privileged white folks a thing or two about grace and gratitude.


‘Same Kind of Different as Me’

Running time: 2 hours

Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements including some violence and language


Playing: In general release

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

Movie Trailers