Nikki and the Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

One night, while Nikki is on her way to Chicago, she has a second encounter with Jesus.  She knows she desperately needs Him again, but isn’t sure what to do.  She’s at a crossroads in her faith and needs Jesus to help her understand what to do.  However, as usual, Jesus does so in a way that even she could have never expected.  So the real question to ask here is can you sit through another film of Jefferson Moore sitting in a cheap set while monologuing?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

One again, video quality is the only redeeming element of this very low-effort production.  Camera work is also fine, but there’s really nothing to it as the main sets are an SUV and a diner (lol).  Besides there being awful lighting in these sets, Nikki and the Perfect Stranger includes the Kelly’s Filmworks specialty of overdone soft lighting.  In addition, there is a cheesy use of special effects throughout.  Finally, even though this film is less than an hour long, there is tons of wasted time that is designed to make it longer.  This movie barely had justification as a short film, much less a fifty-minute one.  In short, this is just another pile of utterly wasted funding.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Again seriously?  Why do we need a third installment in this already boring and barely justifiable series?  And why name it such a stupid title?  Didn’t we do this already?  Yes, we did, as we are reminded through heavy-handed narration and rehashing of The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger.  This third film is full of more silly, meandering dialogue designed to kill time.  The ideas therein are quite simplistic and only exist because this film was forced to happen.   Any issues raised seem very trite and manufactured.  Though we now have a second movie of Jefferson Moore talking to this character for more than 30 minutes, we still don’t get to know Nikki all that well—she is a distant and vague idea that never materializes into a real character.  In the end, there is very little to note here since there is very little content to review.  It’s very easy to spit out fifty minute films about Jefferson Moore talking to people in close quarters, but what does it accomplish?

Acting Quality (0 points)

At this point in the saga, the acting has greatly digressed to where it seems like none of them are trying or they are trying too hard.  Jefferson Moore is slowly morphing into Bruce Marchiano.  The other cast members are very robotic and overly practiced.  No emotions can be felt.  This is really just another disappointing mess.

Conclusion

As it turns out, Nikki’s Second Encounter (this movie’s new title lol) is the worst one of them all.  With hardly anything going for it, there was never any justification for its creation.  Creating another saga installment for the sake of creating it is just the sort of thing Christian entertainment does not need.  The ideas behind this saga are noble and interesting, but execution is everything.  Even the best idea can be ruined by poor presentation and untapped potential.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points

 

Another Perfect Stranger (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Nikki’s original encounter with Jesus Christ, her daughter Sarah grew to resent her mother’s new faith commitment.  Now, over ten years later, Sarah plans to rebel against the faith of her parents by going to make her own life at a far off art school.  As Sarah takes a trip to visit the school, she is ‘coincidentally’ sat beside a mysterious stranger on the plane (multiple times).  The more she talks to Him, the more she begins to feel her heart soften.  What will she learn before she reaches her destination?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Though the production of Another Perfect Stranger has improved from The Perfect Stranger, that’s not really saying much.  Video quality and camera work are the most marked improvements; audio quality also shows steps in the right direction.  However, the soundtrack is quite stock.  Sets are still severely limited, but the most is made of them.  The Kelly’s Filmworks team still has a weird obsession with soft lighting that becomes annoying.  As for the editing, there are too many filler scenes and too much wasted time.  Essentially, while things are progressing in the right direction, it’s still difficult to see why productions this simplistic are so hard to nail.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

For starters, this title is stupid.  Naming a sequel movie ‘another something’ is so cheesy, but in this case, it’s not even true, because it depicts the same Stranger from the first installment, not a different one.  Anyways, Another Perfect Stranger begins with a useless recap of its predecessor, as if we missed something.  Once again, this second installment is full of uninspiring dialogue that speaks of lots of off-screen content and creates convenient plot turns.  Though this movie is again about two characters talking on a wide range of topics, we still don’t really get to know them very well.  With so few characters, these should be deep characters, but they only seem vague in the end.  However, their conversations do improve throughout the film and there are some good points raised, even though there are a number of odd comments and asides that seem out of place.  But what this plot really comes down to is the fact that there is simply not enough plot content to sustain it, as it is basically a stuck-on-a-plane plot that doesn’t involved the Rapture.  We want to like it, but just can’t find many reasons to.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Jefferson Moore, like Bruce Marchiano, has a Jesus complex; however, Moore might be a better actor than Marchiano when all is said and done.  Other cast members in Another Perfect Stranger are okay.  There is some over-acting, but emotions are overall believable.  Line delivery is mostly average.  Overall, this is an average effort with a small cast.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger saga is the definition of untapped potential.  The saga is based on a very simple idea that needs to be taken farther in order to have full effectiveness.  As they are, these films are just cute little Christian movies that people might smile about and then completely forget about.  Christian film makers need to strive to be dynamic and groundbreaking; we need to get out of our little bubble and go make a different with our movies.  An encounter with Jesus should be a difference maker, not another pedestrian effort.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

 

The Perfect Stranger [2005] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Nikki, a lawyer living a fast-paced life, gets a strange invitation to go to dinner with a man who claims to be Jesus Christ, she decides to take him up on the offer, if only to prove him wrong.  Throughout the course of the evening, as their conversation ranges on a wide variety of topics, including world religions and the nature God, Nikki begins to see this man for Who He really is, but will she let Him into her heart?  By the time the last course comes around, who will she surrender to?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

For 2005, this is a very poor production effort.  Though the sets are very limited and the budget seems adequate for this small scale of a production, the Kelly’s Filmworks team did not deliver.  Video quality is grainy and there is a lot of poor lighting throughout, including some cheesy-looking soft light.  Though most of the props are okay and audio quality is decent, the soundtrack is very cheap sounding.  The editing is very basic, but there is not that much content to work with here anyway.  In the end, this is a disappointing effort that should have been easy to execute.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As the original proprietor of the Encounter-style movie, Jefferson Moore was definitely on to something interesting in The Perfect Strange.  This was an original idea that had a lot of potential, yet we feel like it did not reach its full potential.  Though there are very few characters that have long monologuing dialogue, we don’t really get to know them all that well.  The portrayal of Jesus is pretty good, but Nikki just seems like a cardboard cutout.  She talks a lot without every really saying anything substantial to build her character.  There are some interesting issues raised in this plot, but the plotline is fairly linear and lacking in deep content.  It’s all very surface where it should be deep and concludes predictably.  Basically, where The Perfect Stranger could have been truly dynamic, it only scratched the surface.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This small cast is mostly average, yet they are the brightest spot of this film.  There are no real embarrassments or glaring errors, but they also seem like they’re holding back.  Jefferson Moore is fine as Jesus, but other cast members seem inhibited for some reason.  Emotion doesn’t really come through properly.  But in the end, this section is just average.

Conclusion

The Perfect Stranger is a good concept that needs deepening and more creativity.  Having two people talk over dinner about pertinent issues is not really the best way to present this otherwise good idea.  Monologuing becomes old and wearing, thus boring the audience.  Unfortunately, the entirety of this film doesn’t hold the attention very well, so important points will be lost.  Christian film makers need to make sure they are packaging their good ideas properly so that their messages can be properly conveyed.  This is the biggest movie lesson one can learn from this film.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points