When Amber’s husband is killed in an overseas bombing while on tour in the Middle East, her entire life seems to come apart piece by piece. She struggles to support her and her daughter in a small town because she obviously didn’t get any military benefits from the government. She also pushes everyone away and doesn’t go to church anymore, but thankfully, a semi-bad-boy race car driver has crashed in town because he needed some time off from doing whatever it was he was doing before. This gives him time to do stuff with all the kids in town, which is where he becomes obsessed with Amber’s daughter and eventually Amber herself. However, Amber still is struggling financially to the point where she needs an old-fashioned loan from the pawn shop. Will the madness ever end?
Production Quality (2 points)
As per usual for most recent Harold Cronk and PureFlix productions, God Bless the Broken Road has a fine, generic one to offer with nothing particularly special or negative about it. The sets, locations, and props are somewhat limited, but camera work, video quality, and audio quality are all fine. The vanilla soundtrack leaves something to be desired, and the editing is poor because of the nature of the story, but on the whole, this is a fine attempt. However, this brand of production is also becoming very common place in Christian entertainment, so it’s time for deep-pocketed outfits like PureFlix to show us a little something more.
Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)
Regardless, any good this film has to offer is totally negated by the total nonsense of this plot. At times, it feels copied from a Karen Kingsbury novel since this idea has been done so much before, but it’s actually worse because of the logical inconsistencies and flimsy premise. Too many unrealistic things happen that don’t appear to be rooted in reality, and this makes a mockery of real problems people may face in life. Most of the scenes are cheesily forced to convey a certain point in typical PureFlix Obvious style. An example of this is an old standby: awkward sermonizing of lessons they want the audience to be force-fed. Another instance is shown through the most generic dialogue and conversations that were surely purchased (or stolen) from Acme Stock Dialogue, Inc. The characters are just pawns in the inevitable progression of the plot as convenient turns happen to drive home certain agendas. Perhaps the worst part of it all is the fact that every horribly overused inspirational cliche is car-crashed into this one epic fail of a film…an exploration of how this is done would require a completely separate analysis. As a whole, God Bless the Broken Road is just another example of PureFlix Drama wherein every scene has to be an emotional climax as the characters are just extremely stereotyped caricatures designed to represent issues rather than people. If you’re looking for a corny Christian movie all-in-one deal, this one will be worth your money and time. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague.
Acting Quality (1 point)
While plastic white people take center stage to bore us with bland performances (in their defense, they weren’t given much to work with in the line department), better cast members are forced to take backseat as they watch the madness unfold before them and likely wonder when they’ll ever make a big enough break to no longer be trapped in PureFlix World. Main cast members come off as dead-faced and emotionally blank a lot of the time, which makes the forced emotional climaxes of the plot even worse. In the end, there’s some good here, but this sections rounds off an overall unacceptable effort in today’s Christian entertainment world.
If we wanted the sappiest, most unrealistic Hallmark film we could find, we would watch this film because it at least isn’t constantly interrupted by drug commercials. But who’s got that kind of time? Instead, let’s hope films like God Bless the Broken Road will become less and less commonplace as Christian audiences demand more quality from Christian entertainment creators. We’ve finally gotten to where above-average productions are commonplace, so it’s time to let the writers be the writers when it comes to screenplays.
Every year, movies and series are released, and cast members show off their talents. Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films and series are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those entertainment creators and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.
Just in case you didn’t get enough stereotypical PureFlix stupidity from the first season of Malibu Dan, the old gang is back with a new ‘season’ that they refuse to call a season for no reason. This collection of new episodes (totally not a season) offers more of the same stick-your-finger-down-your-throat humor we had from Season 1, only with an even cheaper production setup and a smaller cast. It’s basically like the second season of Hilton Head Island: nobody asked for it and nobody cares that it’s here.
Production Quality (1 point)
Now that we’re on the topic of Hilton Head Island, the Whites and company borrowed their horrible green screens that make everyone and everything have an obvious outline, like they’re cardboard cutouts. Oh wait… But I digress. As previously mentioned, this non-season of Malibu Dan has even fewer sets than the first and even more reuses of the same old ones. This gives it an overall cheap feel, and it goes without saying that the ‘blooper episode’ is virtually indistinguishable from one of the other episodes because it merely depicts the cast acting like idiots, which is what the other episodes are all about anyway. Did we mention that this new non-season of no one’s favorite sitcom contains another endless and obnoxious laugh track that cues every five seconds whether the scene is supposed to be funny or not? Basically, the only thing keeping this entire mess from 0 points or less is the fine video and camera quality, in conjunction with professional audio work. But that theme song gets annoying over and over again. As a whole, there isn’t much good to say here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
What could be done in a new non-season that wasn’t done in the first season? This new batch of episodes that’s totally not a season is virtually indiscernible from the other season, but it’s actually possibly worse due to the painfully-forced so-called comedy that contains nothing funny whatsoever. Basically, this collection of fingernails-in-the-chalkboard creations is just as mindless and ridiculous as regular TV shows that PureFlix and their audience would complain about. Malibu Dan no better than something typical you would see passing by on cable TV as it has just as little potential and just as little hope for any.
Acting Quality (0 points)
Whenever the old PureFlix gang gets together (see Hitting the Breaks, Holyman Undercover, and Me Again), they are content to act like imbeciles. The only consolations this second season cast provides to us is that Jennifer Lyons makes a long-overdue cameo to continually make a fool of herself and that Carey Scott reprises his insultingly fake European accent from Holyman. Steered by the comedic anti-genius of David A. R. White and the sadistic mind of Tommy Blaze, Malibu Dan offers more of the same absurd and zany acting from the expertise of Brad Heller. What’s surprising is that Kevin Downes still puts up with this nauseating experience when he has much better things to do. The constant funding of this insanity is beyond us.
Continuity Quality (0 points)
The second season of Malibu Dan takes on the typical mistakes of sitcoms, besides not developing characters properly, by repeating the same thing over and over again in each episode with no continuity between them. Episodes exist in its own isolated universes as each one appears to have no bearing on another. It seems like they were all filmed in one day with no story-boarding, which is a likely method that has been employed by PureFlix in the past.
With not much else to say, it’s time to address the obviously elephant in the room (no, it’s not David A. R. White dressed up again). What’s the point of randomly pretending that this collection of new episodes isn’t a new season? It’s a very common practice to release an entire season at once with streaming series like this one. Nevertheless, one must take a step back from this mess that’s so easy to make fun of in order to examine what the true state of Christian series is. What are we really accomplishing? Is there any true inspirational or culture-changing value to things like Malibu Dan? I can’t even foresee a monetary gain in it. This begs the question “What is it even for?!?!?” The only answer we can discern is that it’s just another outlet for the twisted comedy desires of White and Blaze, which further goes to show the true darkness behind the PureFlix giant. Needless to say, let’s hope Kevin Downes wipes this from his memory (again) and is able to help the Erwins produce a truly good TV series next year.
Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather feel that they are called to the life they live as they each minister to those who are connected to the military in different ways. They are committed to each other and to their family, and they firmly believe God is always supporting them. However, the months-long separation with Darren’s deployment takes a toll on their marriage and their family as they are apart for months on end with oceans between them. When tragedy strikes close to home, they will have to decide if they will weather the storm and press into their faith or if they will let it all fall apart.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
It’s very clear that Indivisible was a well-funded and well-organized production. This is evident in the flawless video quality and the great action camera work. The sets, locations, and props are also excellent and appropriate for the situations portrayed, and it was smart for the creative team to stay within their budget and to not film too many complicated scenes. There is a very realistic feel to the film, even if there are some slight audio issues. However, there is a relatable soundtrack, although some of the editing tends to be a bit choppy. Nevertheless, this production is still top-notch and demonstrates very wise use of funding.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)
In keeping with the growing trends of using better source material in Christian films, Indivisible seeks to tell a very engaging and poignant true story that explores realistic everyday issues that need to be discussed in the context of film. There is a very real-life feel to the film as the day to day struggles of military families are portrayed very accurately and in a way that many can relate to. Although there are plenty of opportunities to develop true-to-life characters based on the real people of the true story, it feels like there were missed opportunities to take them a step further beyond the typical and into the dynamic. An example of these missed opportunities appears to manifest in the middle of the plot as this part of the movie comes off as just a collection of loosely connected scenes en route to a conclusion it wants to get to. Time moves too quickly at times, which is never helpful for character growth. However, even though some chances for dynamic storytelling were left on the proverbial playing field, this movie still presents a very effective and accessible view of PTSD and its psychological and emotional effects on the victim and those around him. As a whole, this plot is definitely good on paper even though there was the greater potential to go further. Despite this fact, many audiences will still enjoy this film for its realism.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
It’s evident that Sarah Drew drew on her past acting experience and on her experience with the Erwin Brothers in Mom’s Night Out to both deliver a great performance and to assist the rest of the cast in this same endeavor. As such, the casting and acting are both very professional. For the most part, line delivery is on point, and emotions are mostly realistic. There are some slight issues at times when emotional delivery can come off as a bit forced and over the top, but overall, each cast member appears comfortable in his or her respective roles. Though there are a few nitpicks in the various areas of this film, Indivisible still has the potential to reach many different audiences.
One can easily see why this great true story was chosen for a film. There are many important messages in Indivisible that many people will relate to, especially those with close connections to the branches of the military. The military life has never been easy for anyone, but for too long, this has been kept quiet. Thanks to the courage of the Turner family, a great story is now being told that reaches out to families who may feel like they are alone. While there is always room for improvement, there is still plenty of good about Indivisible due to a lot of hard work put into it. Thus, it earns a rightful spot on the Hall of Fame.
Bart Millard always loved to sing, but he grew up in a broken home. His mother left while he was young, and his father beat him and told him he would never amount to much. When Bart failed high school football due to injuries, he and his father spent as little time around each other as possible. Out of this, Bart began singing in high school plays and was told that he had a special talent for the stage. This led Bart to pursue a career in Christian music, but life on the road was hard. When he was forced to make a pivotal decision at a crossroads in his career, Bart was finally faced with having to go back to reconcile with the person he came to hate the most: his father.
Production Quality (3 points)
What else can be said about the talent of the Erwin Brothers at this point? They have clearly mastered production quality, especially when it comes to historical epics. The attention to detail in I Can Only Imagine is exquisite. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are flawless. With Brent McCorkle involved, the soundtrack is always going to be a hit. Sets, locations, and props in I Can Only Imagine are excellent and demonstrate wonderful historical authenticity. This content-packed epic is edited nearly to perfection. In short, it’s rare to have a perfect production, but the Erwin Brothers are still schooling the industry in how it’s done.
Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
Naturally following their epic film Woodlawn, the Erwin Brothers seem to have found a niche in biopics. The story of Bart Millard is one that is absolutely worth being told, especially since so many people are familiar with MercyMe and their original breakout hit single, which is the title of this film. What some audiences may not expect is the profound and timely message this film has to offer. This film is more than just another inspirational film to grab cash from a willing audience. In typical Erwin fashion, I Can Only Imagine is the film the western church needs now. Besides this, the characters are very realistic, authentic, and easy to access via believable dialogue and back stories. Each character is flawed and gray rather than black and white. There are really no errors to point out here as the Erwins have masterfully captured another poignant true story in the context of film.
Acting Quality (3 points)
The Masters of Casting did their homework once again in crafting a cast that was true-to-life to the real people behind the story. Each actor and actress is cast appropriately and assume their roles very well. Costuming is excellent and correct for the time period. Dennis Quaid likely posts one of the performances of the year as a very complex three-part role. In the end, there are little to no errors to raise about this film, which has become the norm of the Erwin brand.
I Can Only Imagine receives an x-factor point for presenting an extremely important issue in a realistic way. Audiences will flock to this film on the basis of its title recognition alone, but many will receive a message they least expected, yet one that the church as a whole desperately needs. Many, many Christians and those associated with the church are running from parts of their lives that are broken and are not always their fault because they do not know how to deal with them. I Can Only Imagine brings this paradigm to front and center at a time when the message of redemption for broken families needs to be heard. Also, in keeping with their perfect record, the Erwins have notched another one on the Hall of Fame and have possibly taken the top spot of Christian film.