Movie Review: Ragamuffin: Based on the life of Rich Mullins

  • Director: David Schultz
  • Writer David Schultz
  • Actors: David Schultz, Michael Koch, Wolfgang Bodison and others

It is with a little trepidation that I am reviewing this movie.  Rich Mullins was a much-loved musician and in my humble opinion one of the best artists at that time especially for his slightly less known pieces.  Such as Jacob and 2 Women’, The Color Green, or Elijah.  So to be critical about the movie can be construed as critical of Rich Mullins.

The film starts out with the adult Rich Mullins, played by Michael Koch, describing his life on a radio show and as he starts out you see a young Rich, who was always called Wayne by his family (Wayne was his middle name) living on a farm and  getting into to trouble with his father. That is a constant theme throughout the film, Rich couldn’t seem to please his father no matter what he did.  As the film goes on it is obvious that Rich isn’t suited for farm life, but has a talent for music which in the father’s opinion is useless for farm life.  However, Rich’s mother sees things differently.

The film continues on with Rich going to a bible college until ultimately he became a music director for a local church.he continues to write songs one of which “Sing your praise to the Lord” was chosen by Amy Grant for her Age to Age album.  Rich then moves to Nashville where he struggles to make a name for himself.  Mainly because he rebels against the “Big Music Machine” that was Contemporary Christian music at that time.  Because it was all about the radio hits.  That is until he records Awesome God and his career starts.

Now I’m not going to write out the movie for you here, but I would like to highlight a few things.  This movie portrays Rich Mullins in what can only be described as a “warts and all” method.  So you see the bouts of depression, drunkenness, and anger issues.  You also see the problems he had with abandonment when friends would leave, or a father figures dies.  Which probably started with his fiancée breaking off their engagement and marrying someone else.  It also shows him as a bit of a rebel as he bucks against the mainstay preaching he sees in churches. This was probably supposed to reflect the Quaker teachings he had as a youth but actually seems to portray more of a “Red Letter Only” Jesus follower at least to me.  Also I have to say that while I appreciate them portraying Mullins as a person who struggles with his walk and his personal demons I wish they had portrayed also the joy he had and the happiness he had also, that seems to be lacking in this film and from the various interviews I’ve seen of Rich Mullins he doesn’t seem to be a morose all the time Christian.

The production quality of this film is sort of above average Hallmark TV movie, it’s definitely somewhat better than some Christian films that I’ve seen but that isn’t saying much.  The acting is a little stiff and I can’t tell if Michael Koch is actually singing the songs or it is a voice over of Rich Mullins.  A person who I was watching the film with thinks it was a voice over.

There is some swearing, drunkenness, and violence, it is definitely for a PG-13 audience.

I give this movie 3.5 stars out of 5.  See it on streaming if your interested I saw it on Netflix.



5 thoughts on “Movie Review: Ragamuffin: Based on the life of Rich Mullins

  1. I’m not a fan of Rich Mullins. Perhaps I’m not a fan because I have always seen him as indicative of CCM and because I’ve never heard his more rare stuff. This movie might actually help to cast him in a different light for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • William if you only have listened to the radio hits you may have missed some of his better works. His use of the tin whistle and hammered dulcimer is unique and the influence of celtic music also made his stuff better than the pablum normally generated.

  2. I watched Ragamuffin with interest because I knew of Mullins’ influence on groups like Caedmon’s Call. Unfortunately, while interesting, I found it depressing. I kept waiting for Mullins to receive peace and assurance and while I understand that his “reconciliation” with his father was supposed to signify that, I didn’t come away from the film happy for Rich. The movie also made me wonder about Rich Mullins’ theology. Doing some research, it seems that he was to become part of the Roman Catholic church just before he died. I enjoy his songs, but coming from a Roman Catholic background myself it was sad to learn that about him.

    • I believe it was Brennan Manning that influenced him in that direction as Manning was a RCC and it was his Ragamuffin gospel that influenced him. And yes you’re correct to say it was sad to see him leaning that way.

  3. Pingback: Earworm Wednesday: Third Day and Brandon Heath~Creed | keachfan

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