Selfie Dad (Movie Review)

Watch the Trailer for Hilarious New Christian Film: Selfie Dad

Plot Summary

Ben Marcus isn’t happy with his life. He always wanted to be a comic, but he definitely doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, stuck in a job he doesn’t like and aloof from his family most of the time, one day, Ben suddenly stumbles upon how much money some people make on the UTOO video platform. Thus, he decides to use this as a launching pad for the comedy career he always wanted. Nonetheless, it leads him down a path he never thought he would go down.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a 2020 production, Selfie Dad sports a lot of pluses, including great video quality and camera work. Audio quality is also professional, and the soundtrack is acceptable. Sets, locations, and props are also good. The only minor concerns to note here relate to very cheap special effects (even though there are few of them) and some minute editing issues. However, this production is on the level we would like to see all Christian entertainment possess.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Despite some acceptable attempts at comedy, Selfie Dad is mostly full of failed humor that simply falls flat. While the character backstories are okay, the plot seems to meander around without really finding its actual point, fueled by inconsistent dialogue that mostly just forces the storyline forward. Some conversations are quite obvious with the messaging, including a lot of unnecessarily patriarchal ideals and typical gender stereotyping. A lot of the narrative’s important scenes are overly staged and spoon-fed to the audience, and most of the characters seem to say the same things over and over again just to fill time. Even with this, the passage of time is a bit vague, and things mainly happen just because they need to. With a lot of things going on at once, quite a few scenes feel unfinished and disconnected from the others, which makes it very hard to comprehend what the writing team even wanted to do besides string a bunch of cheesy asides together without a common thread to truly connect them. Further, the story’s model Christian characters are super-perfect, and all the stale conflicts are magically fixed by the film’s unearned musical conclusion, which seems to imply that the movie is much more important than it actually is. In the end, though there’s a small amount of potential in Selfie Dad, there are too many other problems that get in the way.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Another reflection of this film’s modern amenities is its professional acting. As such, there are only a handful of problems in this section, such as some overdone funny acting. However, for the most part, emotions are believable, and lines are delivered well. Unfortunately, Michael Jr. doesn’t post a particularly strong performance as the lead, but Chonda Pierce is good in her unfortunately small role. Other cast members are passable in their performances. Hence, this is an above-average aspect.

Conclusion

In Selfie Dad, one character (ironically played by Karen Abercrombie) hilariously asks another if she’s ever seen War Room. The other character says she doesn’t really like Christian movies. This exchange is absurd on a number of levels. For one, Selfie Dad‘s plot is almost synonymous with War Room: a dad is having trouble at work and never pays attention to his family. His wife is frustrated but is directed by a wise spiritual character to pray for her husband. The husband almost commits infidelity but, due to his wife’s prayers, is seemingly prevented from doing so. The dad gets fired from his job but is able to bond with his kids, including a teenage daughter, over activities they like. The parents reconcile their marriage. As added bonuses, Michael Jr. and Karen Abercrombie star in both screenplays, with Abercrombie playing the wise spiritual character in both instances. Moreover, it’s equally absurd to have a character state that they don’t like Christian films (a legitimate concern) in a movie that isn’t even that good. It’s evident that the creative team is aware of the problems in Christian entertainment, but they basically fell into the same old traps that others have also slipped into. This seems to imply a lack of understanding about the overall problems still plaguing the field. Overall, Selfie Dad is just another prime example of how good funding and marketing aren’t the automatic keys to success in Christian entertainment: the storyline is equally important.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Selfie Dad (June 2020)

Coming June 19, 2020 to Video on Demand

Writer(s): Brad J. Silverman

Director(s): Brad J. Silverman

Producer(s): Michael Curlyo, Amy Hunter, Patrick G. Ingram, Karen Long, Paul L. Long, Mike Sullivan, Geno Taylor

Cast: Michael Jr., Chonda Pierce, James Denton, Karen Abercrombie, Jamie Grace, Johnny Pacar, Dahlia Waingort, Shelby Simmons, Jalon Christian, Shelley Dennis, Emily Tosta, Pat Finn, Charissa Saverio, Maurice Hall, Peter A. Hulne

Plot summary:

Spiraling uncontrollably into a mid-life crisis, Ben Marcus, a reality TV editor, is convinced he can only be happy by fulfilling his lost dream of being a comic. Ben posts his stand-up comedy to a YouTube channel, and the videos fall flat until his tweener son posts Ben failing miserably on a home improvement project. Much to his teenage daughter’s embarrassment, this video goes viral, launching Ben into a new career as Selfie Dad. Soon Ben is an award-winning, social media comic phenomenon! Problem is, no amount of success seems to bring Ben satisfaction. Through an odd relationship with studio IT guy Mickey, a brash 25-year old studying to be a pastor, Ben is unknowingly mentored into daily Bible reading. As Ben gets serious about the Word, his heart is forever changed.

No Greater Love [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jeff and Heather Baker once had a happy marriage, but when Heather was struggling with her alcohol problems, she felt like she could not hold it together anymore.  Thus, she abandoned Jeff and their son and disappeared from their lives.  Now Jeff has found someone else he wants to marry, but he runs into a problem: he and Heather were never officially divorced.  As he tries to find her again, she suddenly turns up at the local church, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation.  Is it possible that they could put aside the past and find a new life together?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, No Greater Love is an underwhelming production.  Though video quality and audio quality are both fine, other production elements suffer.  Camera work is shaky and there is a lot of poor lighting.  Sets, locations, and props are fairly cheap and limited.  As for the editing, there are too many awkward transitions and lagging sequences.  In the end, it’s clear funding was limited for this film, which makes production elements suffer, however, is understandable considering it is basically a first-time effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Though on its face this is an interesting idea, No Greater Love is neither handled well nor developed properly.  There is not enough plot content as the same conversations and flashbacks seem to repeat over and over again.  Dialogue is fairly cheesy, which hurts the characters’ development.  Despite this, there is lots of wasted time and useless montages that pump the runtime.  Though there is a somewhat good point in the end, it is hard to get to and is packaged in a very shallow Christian message.  The problems presented in this story are fixed way too easily, so it is hard to learn anything from this film.  In the end, though this could have been an interesting story with an important message, it fell far short of expectations.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Since this is a small cast, every little error stands out.  Though the cast members are sometimes okay, they are in need of some coaching.  Emotions are over the top and too dramatic.  There is too much yelling and line delivery is sometimes forced.  In the end, this is another area of this film that falls short of the target.

Conclusion

This creative team likely meant well in making this film, but the delivery is lacking.  Not having enough funding is one thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an interesting plot with relatable characters.  This is a character-driven plot, which means the characters and the cast members have to carry it.  However, this did not happen.  Perhaps next time things will improve.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

 

Grace Unplugged (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grace Trey, desperate to make a name for herself in the music industry, feels stifled in the small town that contains the small church her father is the music minister of.  What’s more, she feels like her father protects her too much and thus rebels against his boundaries.  But when her father is faced with a chance to return to his glory days as a rock and roll star, Grace is shocked when he turns down his old agent.  Seeing her chance to escape, she markets herself to his agent and lands herself the opportunity she has been waiting for.  Little does she know about the world she has opened herself up to by going against the wishes of her parents in order to chase fame.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

The production of Grace Unplugged is really not that bad.  The camera work is professional and the video and sound quality are as they should be.  Having an original soundtrack is commendable, even if this one is just average.  The sets are fairly diverse and on the surface, it looks like a modern movie.  The editing needs some work, but one can understand why it struggles with the very shallow plot that it has been provided.  Otherwise, there is nothing much to comment about here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

As previously mentioned, while this plot is a seemingly interesting idea that is based on true events, it never finds the promised land, so to speak.  The plot is choppy and rushed, the Christian message understated, and the dialogue empty.  The characters seem forced; no time is taken to make them seem realistic.  Suggestive content is dealt with in odd fashions and there is simply too much runtime in this movie.  It takes up a lot of the viewer’s time without accomplishing much.  It drives to an end goal without attempting to draw one into the plot.  It is commendable to highlight the dangers of the music industry, but this movie is so slapped together that no one will notice.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

The actors are either bland, vanilla, or trying too hard.  In her major debut, AJ Michalka seems trying too hard.  The supporting cast is either phoning it in or vying for more screen time.  Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace seem tacked onto the movie; it could have been better if they had been given larger roles.  Again, there was really not much for these actors to work with, but they didn’t bring much to the table either.

Conclusion

For a modest budget production and an intriguing plot idea, more should have come out of Grace Unplugged.  This is an important issue that was not dealt with properly.  The emotional struggles of the characters are not tangible; everything just happens on the surface in route to an overstated conclusion.  Grace Unplugged is a prime example of potential that was left on the proverbial playing field.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points