Coffee Shop [2014] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Donovan has always loved her dream job as the owner of a local coffee shop, but she fears that her mortgage is about to cause her dream to end prematurely.  What’s worse is a hotshot playwright comes to town and starts off completely on the wrong foot with her, all the while Donovan’s sister is trying to get her to run back to the boyfriend who left Donovan for a big time Chicago job.  Will Donovan be able to sort out all the confusion in time to save her dreams?

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Up Entertainment has perfected the Hallmark model of putting out a consistent amount of films with fairly professional production quality in each one.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all what they should be.  The soundtrack is a bit too generic, however, which fits this genre to a T.  What also typically comes with this sort of made for television movie is relatively good sets, locations, and props, yet some minor editing issues that plague it, all in the name of making the runtime trim.  All of these typical elements are present in Coffee Shop, making it seem like it was made on an assembly line.  Overall, though the production is great, there are plenty of other predictable elements to point.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though this story is trying a bit harder than most made for TV romantic comedies, Coffee Shop is still an extremely typical story about a jilted girlfriend who has to save her ______ and then both her old boyfriend and a new well-groomed man whom she doesn’t like at first but grows to like show up in the small town she lives in with other quirky characters.  Though some of the characters demonstrate attempts to be creative, probably mostly the influence of the Erwin brothers, there are just too many predictable elements for this section to warrant any more points.  The entire plot follows a predictable progression and the end can be seen from the beginning.  In the end, it’s hard to see the justification for yet another one of these sorts of films.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Despite all of other issues, the Erwin brothers still do their thing and win out when it comes to casting and acting coaching.  There are virtually no errors in this section as line delivery is on point and emotions are very natural.  UP and Hallmark should consider hiring the Erwins as permanent casting help.

Conclusion

We realize the machine of cable television demands certain movies that fit into certain molds, so perhaps there is really no solution to this problem until cable is no longer relied upon as a source of entertainment revenue.  Creative Christian film makers need a better outlet for their films so that they can showcase their talent outside of the confines of a revenue-seeking machine.  Perhaps one day we will see more of these sorts of films on streaming services such as PureFlix.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Unconditional (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Samantha Crawford believes that her life was perfect when her husband Billy was alive.  Therefore, when he is murdered in a seemingly random mugging, her entire world—and faith—come crashing down.  Ready to take her own life where her husband died, Sam’s suicide attempt is suddenly interrupted by the needs of two street kids who are injured in a hit and run.  This distraction from her world of depression directs Sam down an unexpected path on which she reconnects with a childhood friend, Joe, who is now being a father to fatherless children on the streets and in the projects of Nashville.  Together, they discover that God’s unconditional love changes everything, even hurts from the past.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

For a pilot film, the production quality of Unconditional is exquisite.  The camera work is flawless.  The editing is wonderful, masterfully mixing the past and the present.  Since Brent McCorckle is a composer, the music of Unconditional gives the movie a very professional and artistic flair.  The sets are very diverse and realistic.  In short, there are no errors here as the crew obviously put a lot of time into making this film look very professional.

Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)

Since this film is based on true events, it already has a lot going for it.  The plot is not as linear as most plots, which is a good thing.  True-to-life dialogue and poignant flashbacks build accessible and flawed characters.  The events the characters experience are very realistic and believable.  While the plot twists are minor, this is not an issue because this story could take place in any inner city in America.  There is one surprise at the end that is a change-up from most movies, thus making this entire plot a breath of fresh air.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The cast of Unconditional is experienced and professional, and they are obviously coached well.  While a majority of the actors are not explicitly Christian, they are utilized for good purposes.  The lines are delivered well and the emotions are believable.  In short, the acting of Unconditional should serve as an example to other aspiring Christian film crews.

Conclusion

Unconditional receives an extra point for presenting an important social issue in a great fashion and for including under-used movie concepts, such as flashbacks and an emotionally provoking musical score.  Fatherlessness in America is a social crime, and Unconditional brings this to light.  Though this movie is lesser known than many Christian-themed films, it deserves to be elevated above many others.  There are virtually no errors in Unconditional, thus giving it a perfect score.

 

Final Rating: 10 out of 10 points