Runnin’ From My Roots (Movie Review)

Runnin' from My Roots (2018) - IMDb

Plot Summary

After country music star Faith Winters receives some bad publicity for a bad decision of hers, she’s obviously forced to return to her hometown, where she happens to reconnect with her high school sweetheart, also known as the local pastor. Coincidentally, the church is about to go under from lack of funds, so it’s possible Faith might be able to help there. However, she’s being stalked by her sort-of boyfriend and will have to rediscover the way she used to be in order to move forward or something.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Runnin’ from My Roots has a mixed bag for a production, including very shaky camera work and inconsistent lighting. Some of the audio is fine, but some of it is quite over-driven, echoed, or too quiet. The soundtrack is also random and sometimes conflicts with itself, yet the sets, locations, and props are acceptable. Further, the editing leaves something to be desired as there are awkwardly abrupt cuts and transitions. Even still, there’s some slight improvement as the film goes on, which is enough to warrant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

As if Runnin’ from My Roots wasn’t already basically the most typical plot ever, invasive narration interrupts whatever flow it could have had. Even still, since the storyline is so chock full of predictable small town stuff, stock dialogue, and generic stereotypes, it’s basically a fruitless effort. One random thing happens after another, and it all seems surprisingly disconnected from itself, such as the vague, unexplained conflicts and the very fast pace that the narrative moves at. Due to the speed, things are forced on the viewer without them naturally developing or having a basis for occurring. Besides this, there are too many confusing subplots that don’t fit together, and what the characters claim to experience doesn’t realistically translate to what the audience feels. Conversations are full of stupid one-liners and nonsensical big city/small town dichotomies, which makes the entire movie seem unserious and phoned in. In the end, without a little dose of save-the-church elements, this story really has something for everything in the category of lame screenplays and nothing for points that matter.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though there are times when the acting of Runnin’ from My Roots is average, a lot of the time, it’s quite forceful. An example of this is the myriad of fake accents and overdone makeup work. Also, some cast members try to draw a lot of attention to themselves with over-the-top drama and pageantry. Elsewhere, line delivery and emotions are too deliberate and pronounced. While it’s not all bad, this section rounds out a very low-quality effort.

Conclusion

There’s no longer a place in the market for films like Runnin’ from My Roots. Run-of-the-mill, half-baked offerings like this one are unacceptable and easily forgotten. It’s an unfortunate waste of resources, and hopefully, Christian audiences will continue to ignore movies like this so that they are no longer made.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

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Camp Cool Kids (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Spence’s older brother Zach never wants him around because he embarrasses him, but their mother wants them to stick together now that their father has died.  Zach is headed to summer camp and Spence is supposed to go with him, but Spence is afraid.  However, Spence’s grandfather convinces him to go and Spence soon finds out that there’s a whole world out there if he will face his fears and not let his overactive imagination get the best of him.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As a new production, there are obviously a lot of positive elements here.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all on standard.  The soundtrack is a little silly and it is quite excessive as it dominates the film, especially with the many montages that make up this movie.  Sets, locations, and props, however, are professional and appropriate.  Yet there are some unnecessary ‘silly’ special effects that cloud things, not to mention the fact that there’s really no editing in this film.  In the end, this is a typical new baseline production; it’s good to have a new baseline, but production isn’t the only thing you need.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It’s unclear what the true purpose or intention of this movie is supposed to be.  Is it a kids’ movie?  It sure seems like one.  Characters are very lazily presented through lame attempts at dialogue and comedy.  There is really no plot to speak of, as the story mostly consists of a lot of silliness, quirkiness, and montages to fill time.  The Christian message presented is very plastic and forced.  In the end, there is little overarching or driving purpose to anything that happens in this film, so it’s hard to understand why it was made or what audience it is intended to reach.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Lisa Arnold and company are reliable in putting together a good cast that mostly knows and cares about what they are doing.  There are no glaring errors among this cast—just some uninspiring and seemingly uninterested performances.  Then again, the cast members really didn’t have much to work with.  The whole film seems like an afterthought.

Conclusion

In the not-too-distant past, a film would have been a basement dweller due to low production quality and unprofessional acting.  Yet the new professional industry standards of Christian film have been raised, and thus raise films like this from the ash heap.  But that doesn’t mean that they are any more justified—it just means more money was spent on them.  Thus, we have to ask why.  We know Lisa Arnold and her team mean well and are capable of great things, so why did they make this film?  It seems like the money could have been spent better on a different idea.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

 

Wish for Christmas (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Anna MacLaren hates it when her Christian parents force her to go to church and obey all kinds of silly rules.  So when they insist that she goes to church on the same day as her all-important Winter Ball, it’s just the last straw for Anna.  She wishes with all of her heart that her parents were not Christians, and next day, her wish comes true!  She is excited at first but soon discovers that she needs to be careful what she wishes for because her wish has far-reaching effects that she does not even like.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

In an improvement from their freshman effort Catching Faith, Mustard Seed Entertainment benefits from PureFlix with improved production quality.  Camera work is exquisite, as is video quality.  Audio quality is great, but the soundtrack needs improvement.  Sets and locations are fairly realistic.  However, the editing is not very good as it is very choppy and amateurish.  The storyline is hard to follow as the editing makes it jump around.  Basically, this is an improvement with more room to grow.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Though this is a stereotypical Christmas wish psychological plot, it does not follow the same patterns as usual.  For example, the wish does not create an alternate It’s a Wonderful Life universe, but actually changes real life.  This in turn causes all kinds of confusion and continuity problems.  While the Mustard Seed crew had some good intentions in writing this script, there are just all kinds of problems here.  Changing the parent characters from legalistic Christians to obnoxious atheists is just too much and screams of PureFlix influence.  Any meaning that is conveyed in this plot is hamstrung by the lack of character development and substantive dialogue.  As the plot jumps all around, we never get a chance to understand these characters or why they do the things they do as they are swept along in an inevitable storyline and flat ending.  There was definitely potential here, similar to that of Catching Faith, but it just fell short.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This casting job was poor, even if they are mostly experienced actors and actresses.  Many of them seem far too plastic as costuming and makeup are overdone.  Line delivery is fine, but emotions are not very believable.  Overall, while the cast is generally professional, they just seem like they stepped out of a Hallmark movie.

Conclusion

Mustard Seed Entertainment certainly has potential and it’s great to see that they have a better platform now with PureFlix.  We sincerely hope that they have not been ruined by PureFlix demands and that they can combine their newfound production success with the creative and meaningful plot ideas of Catching Faith.  Mustard Seed has plenty of hope for the future—next time they just don’t need to rush a Christmas movie for the sake of having one.  It’s better to take time on movies and produce a true work of art rather than a half-measure.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points