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