Hope for Christmas (Movie Review)

Hope For Christmas (2018) #GLCFF2019 @GLCFF - YouTube

Plot Summary

Pastor Greg randomly wins a shopping spree for Christmas Eve, but this causes him to be late for the service he has to run because he and his staff get stuck in an elevator with a pregnant woman who suddenly goes into labor! Will they be able to get back to the church in time to help those in need?

Production Quality (.5 point)

With shaky cam and terrible special effects, the production of this film leaves a lot to be desired. Although video quality is fine and the audio quality is acceptable, the soundtrack is quite generic. Sets, locations, and props are very cheap and limited. Further, the editing is very weird due to the fact that some scenes are extremely short with shocking fadeouts. Other sequences drag on for no reason, so this section can’t be award more than half a point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Much like Diary of a Lunatic: Trew’s Calling, Hope for Christmas brings up a lot of problems that exist within the American church establishment, but many of the satire and parody elements are bizarre and isolating. A lot of the plot elements are completely unexplainable as they either try way too hard to be funny or waste true comedic potential. The narrative lacks focus as it tries to explore an overwhelming amount of topics at once, which causes one thing to happen after another without continuity. Random instances happen for no particular reason, and there are simply too many characters and subplots. Obvious dialogue and conversations try to obsessively hammer the same concepts into the audience’s brains. However, this fact is even worse because the story is very purposeless and aimless. Hence, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Surprisingly, the acting is the strongest aspect of this movie although it leaves much to be desired. Some cast members appear to be trying too hard in their performances. Lots of crosstalk muddles scenes; emotions and line delivery is mostly uneven across the board. However, not all is bad here, which is sufficient to warrant a point but not enough to save this screenplay from itself.

Conclusion

Greg Robbins and company always have something to offer, but their packaging is all wrong. It’s understandable and relatable to discuss the problems within the American church establishment. However, doing so in a such an offbeat way delegitimizes the message. This doesn’t even mention the fact that low quality films continually undermine the reputation of Christian entertainment. We’ve said this all before, and there’s nothing new this holiday season.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

Praise Band: The Movie (Movie Review)

Praise Band: The Movie - Stereogum

Plot Summary

When a church feels like they can’t appeal to the young people, the lead pastor blames their faithful adherence to only singing songs from the hymnal. As a solution, the pastor decides that it’s time to start a controversial praise band by hiring a young whippersnapper to teach them the newfangled worship songs that the kids might like. Will they be able to use music to bring the youth back to the church before it’s too late?

Production Quality (.5 points)

Praise Band is a strange experience, beginning with the production, which included weirdly blurry video quality and even odd sepia-like tones. Loud background noises distract the viewer as the soundtrack sometimes overpowers audio. Tight camera shots focus on cheap sets, locations, and props while strange lighting provides an annoying backdrop. When it comes to editing, there’s unexplained sequences of dead time that are punctuated by awkward fadeouts. In the end, despite very slight improvement with this section over time, it’s not enough to warrant a higher score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 points)

The entire premise of Praise Band is that all a church needs to do to grow its numbers, especially among younger populations, is change its music style. While this does reflect an idea that was popular among churches at the time, it’s still silly to base a movie off of it. What’s more, generic and pedestrian dialogue creates vanilla characters that can’t be easily related to. Despite some slight potential in a half-hearted comedic exploration of how much certain churches refuse to change, the robotic nature of the characters takes the wind out of the sails. The humor is also too muted even though there’s hardly any actually content in this narrative. It lacks a core purpose and a centralized direction as random things happened until a sudden conclusion comes about. Overall, this story just seems like one of those vague, unfinished concepts that was forced to be a film without much thought put into it.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Surprisingly, the acting is actually the strongest area of this screenplay although it doesn’t get past the halfway mark. It’s not all bad or all good, but at times, the lines and emotions seem overly practiced. There’s also not a lot of positive to make up for the vanilla nature of the casting. Therefore, this nature rounds out a very poor effort.

Conclusion

Early in the modern era of Christian entertainment, films like Praise Band were nearly all there was for faith-based audiences to watch. Thus, the good thing is that now, there are more options for viewers in this genre. Current and future creators can learn from the mistakes of the past as we look toward the future.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

Diary of a Lunatic: Trew’s Calling (Movie Review)

Diary of a Lunatic (2017) - IMDb

Plot Summary

Trew doesn’t really like her life, but she lives with it anyway. She’s not interested in God, but when she wakes up one day to find that He wants her to do something for Him, she just wants Him to go away. However, He keeps pursuing her because He has something she wants to learn if she’ll ever listen. What Trew ultimately discovers is beyond her wildest dreams.

Production Quality (2 points)

For the most part, Trew’s Calling has a pretty good production. This is shown by good video quality and fine camera work. Sets, locations, and props are also professional. However, there are some annoying comedic zooms. Also, audio can be over-driven at times even if the soundtrack is acceptable. Further, editing tends to be choppy due to poor story structure. However, this is basically a standard production effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It’s apparent that the plot of Diary of a Lunatic is meant to be purposely quirky and eccentric, which means it’s sometimes truly funny yet other times is either head-scratchingly bizarre or slightly sacrilegious. Some content seems a bit inappropriate and even somewhat blasphemous. A few aspects of the comedy and a handful of the themes are actually quite relatable and interesting, such as problems within the established church. However, there are still sequences that are extremely eyebrow-raising and appear to have no purpose or point whatsoever except to be purposely wacky and off-the-wall. The portrayal of God is odd at times but not all bad; some sequences are beyond explanation and seem totally out of place. The writers’ theology and beliefs seems to be very unusual and even borderline on new age philosophies. As a whole, the narrative is a giant mixed bag of potential combined with complete nonsense. Sometimes, the storyline pretends like it’s hiding a great secret that it never gets to. Its silly rushed conclusion and ending sequence are forced and basically fix everything without providing legitimate explanations for the stranger elements of the screenplay. In the end, if anything is to be salvaged from these ideas, they need a total rewrite in order to preserve the surprisingly worthwhile elements.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Surprisingly, the acting of this film is actually pretty good at times. However, it tends to be a bit over the top in some scenes despite some comedic elements. Emotions are forced at times yet other times are not. Line delivery is mostly even at times. As such, this section does enough to get above the average line.

Conclusion

With some worthwhile elements pulling Trew’s Calling in one direction and really bizarre aspects pulling it in the other direction, the movie’s score falls right in the middle of the scale. It’s very unclear what the screenwriters were going for except that they wanted to make a point about how organized Christianity often turns people away. However, this idea was packaged in such a wacky way because it feels like they just kept sticking random scenes together over time until they had a burgeoning screenplay. Also, it’s not like they just filled with vanilla content; many of the sequences are completely beyond explanation. As a whole, it feels like this movie had something going for it, but it gets completely lost in the shuffle of whatever vendetta this creative team had at the time.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Colors of Emily (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Kate Montgomery is a big city art dealer who travels to a quaint small town to purchase some mysterious paints from a mysterious artist whom no one in the art dealing world knows the true identity of.  However, she is also on the run from her psychologist and her dark past.  While running away, she will have to end up facing everything she’s trying to hide from in the most unlikely ways.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

While there are some positive elements in this production, there are also some negative ones.  For instance, video quality and camera work are mostly fine, but there is some poor audio quality throughout.  The soundtrack is also a bit generic.  Lighting can be a problem at times, and the sets, locations, and props are somewhat limited in some areas.  For the most part, editing is fine, even though there are a few too many lagging scenes.  Thus, as a whole, this production is basically average and has some room for improvement.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The Colors of Emily is mostly a departure for the Rossetti group.  This story tries to delve into the psychological\suspense\mystery genre, and it contains interesting attempts at psychological elements, but there is too much wasted time before getting to the substantial mystery elements.  This wasted time mostly consists of tongue-in-cheek dialogue about predictable fish-out-of-water concepts, as well as a seemingly vague premise and loose grip on reality.  At times, the storyline seems very unfinished, and the characters come off as too understated and under-developed.  Further, the villain is fairly cheesy, especially in the ‘climax’ scene that’s full of monologuing.  In short, while there is some potential in this story idea, its final product is too vague and undeveloped.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, most of the acting in The Colors of Emily is very awkward and not well-coached.  A lot of the cast members come off as too unnatural, although Jenn Gotzon posts a more authentic performance than usual.  Moreover, there are some other strange characters in this cast, and there are too many sequences of yelling and screaming, especially in the suspense scenes.  Overall, there are too many forced lines and emotions to warrant any more than half of point here.

Conclusion

The Colors of Emily has a good idea behind it, but its effort is basically half-cocked and incomplete.  On the whole, the production needs an upgrade, as does the acting.  The storyline needs more clarification and deepening, as do the characters and dialogue.  This film appears to be an example of the importance of taking time to make quality films rather than just making another movie most people are going to forget about.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

In Gramps’ Shoes (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ty is a 65-year-old retired grandfather, and he is passionate about running.  He is also passionate about praying for his estranged daughter, whom he has not heard from in nearly twenty years.  Therefore, when he suddenly hears from her one day, he is overjoyed.  She reaches out to him for financial help, so he agrees to move in with her and her teenage children to help be a father figure for them.  However, they are skeptical of Ty at first; will they be able to come around and trust God?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Its small budget aside, In Gramps’ Shoes has an unacceptably poor production.  While video quality is fine, the camera work is too stationary, and audio quality is very static and low quality, especially with the terrible outside sounds.  The soundtrack is very generic and almost non-existent.  Further, the indoor sets are fairly cheap and limited, even though the outdoor locations are okay.  Finally, there is basically no editing present in this production.  Essentially, though this production was relatively simple, it’s still low quality for no good reason.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Basing a movie around an annoyingly perfect Christian protagonist who fixes everything he touches is never a winning formula for a movie, but that’s what In Gramps’ Shoes has done.  This is done through very obvious and forceful dialogue that shoves cheesy messaging down your throat, even though the storyline is very vague and meandering without any clear purpose or direction except to force good-ole-days fundamentalism on you.  The non-Christian characters are total strawmen, and the Christian message is very trite.  Too many sequences of this film are just characters sitting around talking about what their characters are supposed to represent rather than using the dialogue to develop the characters.  At that, this film is far too long to have no substantial content or ideas contained within it.  Thus, it’s basically a complete waste of time.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

Full of typical Rossetti cast members, this group acts very robotic and overly practiced a majority of the time.  Some cast members are downright annoying, and there is a lot of poor teen acting throughout.  There are some slightly positive moments that keep this section from being zero, but on the whole, like the rest of this film, it’s all very low quality.

Conclusion

It seems like the only purpose of awful films like this one is to push an unpopular message or personal agenda.  We apparently needed another movie like this, so here it is.  In the more modern era of Christian entertainment, low-quality films like this one are unacceptable and mostly unwelcome, unless they have a really good plot to share, which is certainly not the case with this film.  Thus, In Gramps’ Shoes should be forgotten.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points