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

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The Beverlys, Season 1 (Series Review)

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Plot Summary

Tommy Blaze Beverly is running out of money, and his constant hustles for quick cash aren’t yielding what he needs to fund his extravagant California lifestyle. Thus, when he sees a news story about foster girls in need, he jumps at the chance to make some extra money by becoming an instant foster parent basically overnight. Thankfully, his racially stereotyped butler and personal assistant are always there to meet Tommy’s beck and call, and the foster girls basically turn his house into a giant dance studio designed to hold daily auditions for the next Disney role. What could go wrong?

Production Quality (1 point)
In keeping with PureFlix’s typical sitcom elements, the first season of The Beverlys is complete with a constant laugh track, an annoying soundtrack, and the same old sets, locations, and props. While some production elements, such as video quality, audio quality, and camera work, are fine, these limiting factors put a damper on whatever small potential it had. The editing is also littered with stock footage and corny transitions between scenes. Thus, this section only warrants a point, but this is just the tip of this season’s iceberg of problems.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)
Essentially, The Beverlys appears to be designed as PureFlix’s own version of the Disney Channel. Its first season is full of mindless conversations, dance sequences, and cheesy so-called comedy routines that are all funny for the wrong reasons. This doesn’t even mention the constant stream of extremely forced comedic diatribes and painfully shoe-horned Christian messaging. What makes matters worse is that the storylines are not only pointless but that the dialogue is littered with cringe-worthy racial stereotyping, which causes this section to be negative. Besides this, the characters are very over the top and empty at the same time. The fact that stupid antidotes are forced on the viewer just after the audience sees thinly veiled racism is very disingenuous and offensive. Further, the premise of each episode is utterly pointless, and there’s nothing good going for this season, which is why the derogatory elements overcome this section to make it negative.

Acting Quality (-2 points)
Tommy Blaze departs from his usual corny performances to post a collection that’s in-your-face, bombastic, and annoyingly over the top. Most of the other cast members in this tiny cast are also trying way too hard as many emotions are basically screamed (or sang) at the audience. Line delivery is also very strained and forced. There is very little good to speak of, and the bad greatly outweighs anything positive, which is why this section also warrants negative points.

Continuity Quality (0 points)
The eight episodes of this first season are all literally the same thing over and over again. They all take the same page from the sitcom playbook and find different ways to package it: some silly escapade or scheme entangles the characters, and they have less than half an hour to quickly resolve it and prepare for the next round. This time, however, it’s just done with a Bible thought spin. Therefore, this copy-and-paste model of episode writing warrants no points for this section, which rounds out an overall embarrassing effort.

Conclusion

Another month, another pointless PureFlix original series. For some reason, the PureFlix executives are intent on spending their funds on throwaway concepts like The Beverlys. It’s unlikely they are getting any type of return from this kind of bizarre Blaze pet project, so why make it? It just further adds to the nonsense littering PureFlix’s checkered past and contributes to the already tenuous perception of Christian entertainment. Hopefully, however, things are beginning to look up outside of the PureFlix realm.

Final Rating: -3 out of 14 points

Rumors of Wars (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

As Roxy, a college student, witnesses the slow but sure takeover of a one world government, she chronicles her thoughts, beliefs, and discoveries in a detailed journal that is eventually discovered by agents of the new world order.  Shaw 408, the agent who discovers the journal, is unsure of his role in the takeover regime and finds himself intrigued by the journal’s contents.  As Zurn, the leader of the new regime, tightens his grip on the world by ordering everyone to receive a microchip inserted under their skin, the world descends into chaos.  Who will survive?

 

Production Quality (3 points)

It’s clear that the Bearfruit Films team has a commitment to high quality productions, as their effort on Rumors of Wars shows in every production element.  Video and audio quality are error-free.  The original soundtrack is effective and appropriate.  The apocalyptic sets, locations and props are excellent.  The action-based camera work, which is often difficult to execute, is done quite well.  Finally, there are no obvious editing errors, thus making this a perfect production job.  This is rarely found, so we greatly anticipate Bearfruit’s future work.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Rumors of Wars is a unique brand of apocalyptic storyline that actually doesn’t bite off more than it can chew by trying to cover tons of apocalyptic high points.  Instead, the story stays in a controlled atmosphere to build a good dystopian premise without jumping through time too quickly or zooming all over the world.  The mixing of the past and present subplots is interesting and is done fairly well.  However, this overall concept needs a little more explaining and development.  The characters are most okay, but some of the villains are cheesy.  Surprisingly, the antichrist character is actually different and creative.  Finally, Rumors of Wars does commit a key apocalyptic error in creating a passive-aggressive this-might-be-continued-someday ending.  But otherwise, there is a lot of potential here and room to grow.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Full of recognizable actors and actresses, this cast is a mixed bag.  Sometimes they are over the top and other times they are very much on point.  For example, this is not T. C. Stallings’ best performance, but Ben Davies is better than usual.  It’s different from cast member to cast member, thus making this an overall average performance.

Conclusion

This whole idea would work so much better either as a series of films or as a miniseries.  There are a lot of creative ideas and concepts hidden in here that require further development, which necessitates more time and money to do this.  We hope that one day this movie concept can be continued or remade in some fashion.  Regardless, Bearfruit Films has a talented team, so it will be interesting to see what they have planned next.

 

Final Rating: 6 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