Switched [2020] (Movie Review)

New Movie Alert: Switched (Christian version of Freaky Friday):  ohnotheydidnt — LiveJournal

Plot Summary

Cassandra Evans is tired of being bullied by Katie Sharp, a popular social media figure in her school. One day, after a particularly bad episode of mistreatment, Cassandra prays that Katie will know what it’s like to walk in her shoes. Surprisingly, the next day, the two girls wake up having switched bodies with one another. The only way they’ll ever be able to get back to normal is to work together and learn how they need to change their old ways.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a 2020 film, Switched does what it has to do in the production category. Professionalism is showcased with great video quality, camera work, and audio quality. Despite a somewhat generic soundtrack, the sets, locations, and props are well-constructed and well-used. There are no negatives to point out in this section save for some slight editing concerns. Nonetheless, this isn’t enough to prevent a high score from being awarded.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

In addition to the really worn-out concept of body switching, the heavy-handed and obvious dialogue does nothing to help matters. If you must use a derivative of this premise, the characters have to be good enough to showcase noticeable changes, but in Switched, this doesn’t happen. Although they aren’t the worst characters and actually have some potential, more time was needed prior to body switch to actually develop them as believable people. Some improvements are made to dialogue as the film goes on, and realistic high school issues are explored, albeit in slightly over-the-top ways, such as the cheesy portrayal of “bad kids.” It’s hard to see past the issues the characters are supposed to represent and relate to them as people. Also, the Christian messaging feels a bit forced and shoe-horned at times. Besides these problems, there’s an entire sub-category of errors that are created by the body switching elements, such as characters obviously acting inconsistent with their true selves without drawing suspicion from others. Some scenes defy logic when characters brush off the odd behavior of the central figures, and too many coincidences occur to make things happen that the plot wants to take place. Themes tend to get lost throughout the narrative, and a vague passage of time confuses the audience. Unfortunately, a good point made by the conclusion and a demonstration of how the two protagonists organically changed is washed over with mistakes and a convoluted story presentation. Hence, a small score is warranted here, but not much more.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

In a body switching screenplay, if it must exist, the reverse acting has to be really good. However, in Switched, this isn’t the case as everyone seems generic and carbon-copy in the movie’s first half. Nonetheless, the acting does tend to get better, at least in the areas of emotional and line delivery. For the most part, with a few exceptions, the cast members do the best they can with what they have, which earns this section an average score.

Conclusion

Mustard Seed Entertainment is usually so close to doing something good. Switched had a lot of potential within it, but it failed to attain all that it could have. Body switching aside, there are worthwhile messages in this film that deserve a platform: the one that isn’t too confusing or cheesy. For future success, this creative team might consider bringing in more talented screenwriters so that their resources can be used on more worthwhile stories.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Wish for Christmas (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Anna MacLaren hates it when her Christian parents force her to go to church and obey all kinds of silly rules.  So when they insist that she goes to church on the same day as her all-important Winter Ball, it’s just the last straw for Anna.  She wishes with all of her heart that her parents were not Christians, and next day, her wish comes true!  She is excited at first but soon discovers that she needs to be careful what she wishes for because her wish has far-reaching effects that she does not even like.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

In an improvement from their freshman effort Catching Faith, Mustard Seed Entertainment benefits from PureFlix with improved production quality.  Camera work is exquisite, as is video quality.  Audio quality is great, but the soundtrack needs improvement.  Sets and locations are fairly realistic.  However, the editing is not very good as it is very choppy and amateurish.  The storyline is hard to follow as the editing makes it jump around.  Basically, this is an improvement with more room to grow.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Though this is a stereotypical Christmas wish psychological plot, it does not follow the same patterns as usual.  For example, the wish does not create an alternate It’s a Wonderful Life universe, but actually changes real life.  This in turn causes all kinds of confusion and continuity problems.  While the Mustard Seed crew had some good intentions in writing this script, there are just all kinds of problems here.  Changing the parent characters from legalistic Christians to obnoxious atheists is just too much and screams of PureFlix influence.  Any meaning that is conveyed in this plot is hamstrung by the lack of character development and substantive dialogue.  As the plot jumps all around, we never get a chance to understand these characters or why they do the things they do as they are swept along in an inevitable storyline and flat ending.  There was definitely potential here, similar to that of Catching Faith, but it just fell short.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This casting job was poor, even if they are mostly experienced actors and actresses.  Many of them seem far too plastic as costuming and makeup are overdone.  Line delivery is fine, but emotions are not very believable.  Overall, while the cast is generally professional, they just seem like they stepped out of a Hallmark movie.

Conclusion

Mustard Seed Entertainment certainly has potential and it’s great to see that they have a better platform now with PureFlix.  We sincerely hope that they have not been ruined by PureFlix demands and that they can combine their newfound production success with the creative and meaningful plot ideas of Catching Faith.  Mustard Seed has plenty of hope for the future—next time they just don’t need to rush a Christmas movie for the sake of having one.  It’s better to take time on movies and produce a true work of art rather than a half-measure.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

Catching Faith {The Elijah Project} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

On the surface, the Taylors are the perfect white suburban family.  The twins Beau and Ravyn are getting ready to go to college.  John is a successful businessman.  Alexa is popular with the women of the town.  Beau is a high school football star and Ravyn is one of the smartest students.  But all is not right.  After one evening of tragedy and bad choices, Alexa is forced to look at who she has become and who her family has become.  She decides to attend a women’s group in the hopes of discovering some meaning, but she finds herself faced with her own issues.  Only when she is ready to be honest with herself and her family will she start to see real change.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Catching Faith is clearly an underfunded production, which is not entirely the creators’ fault.  The production quality is inconsistent on all fronts, with sometimes good video quality, and other times not good.  The camera work is okay throughout, though action scenes not as professional as they could be.  Audio quality is also inconsistent—some lines require captioning to be heard.  Props are used fairly well throughout and sets and locations are at least average.  Unfortunately, the editing is all over the field, sometimes conveying a thought-provoking film and other times leaving the audience confused as to what is happening.  In short, this is a good effort as the producers appeared to do the best they could with what they had.  With a little more funding, this could have been great.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

This film is built on very good ideas; it’s not your typical sports film, although it has some predictable sports elements.  The writers were not afraid to take on unpopular issues as they portray the hidden struggles of an average white yuppie family in a smallish town.  The characters are developed fairly well, although sometimes there is too much overstatement regarding their tendencies and interests.  Yet at other times, plot elements are far too understated.  The dialogue is also inconsistent as it is sometimes well-thought-out and other times too obvious or even too vague.  Catching Faith provides a surprisingly correct portrayal of counseling, probably because a mental health professional was actually involved in the making.  However, this poses a unique problem in that the professional’s curriculum is very prominent throughout the film, pretty much giving it awkward product placements.  It would have been better if the counseling concepts were naturally woven into the plot structure rather than inserted from a textbook.  Another drawback to the plot is that the end is too neat and tidy—some characters avoid consequences for their actions entirely.  But all in all, Catching Faith is a great effort, one that we would expect would be the norm in underfunded independent Christian film.  Yet unfortunately, it’s an outlier.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Like the other elements of the film, the acting of Catching Faith is very inconsistent.  Sometimes cast members are right on point while other times their efforts trail off in the distance.  As a small amateur cast, they would have benefitted greatly from more professional coaching.  This is not to say that there was no coaching—there just needs to be more.  There was real potential here that could have been emphasized.

Conclusion

We would love to see this film remade with more funding, more thoughtful writing, and better acting coaching.  There was a real heart behind this film, which is really what makes it so different from your typical fly-by-night independent Christian movie.  We understand the struggles of independent filmmakers in getting the funding they need; we just ask that creators do the best they can with what God has given them.  The creators of Catching Faith mostly did this, and with continued effort in the future, they will make their mark.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points