Same Kind of Different As Me (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ron Hall is a successful art dealer who has it all—except for a successful marriage.  He and his wife Debbie have grown apart from each other, and he has been looking in the wrong directions for love.  His marital conflict has now come to a head, so Debbie decides to make Ron exit his safe, affluent world to come volunteer with her at the local homeless shelter.  While there, though his heart is not in the work at all, Ron forms an unlikely relationship with a violent homeless man whose story captivates Ron in a way he never expected.


Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a clearly well-funded and well-marketed production, Same Kind of Different As Me had a lot going for it from the get-go.  This production is obviously high quality in a lot of ways, including video quality, camera work, and audio quality.  The soundtrack is also very intriguing.  Sets, locations, and props are very well-constructed and utilized appropriately, especially the historical components in the flashbacks.  The only minor nitpick to note here pertains to some small editing issues, such as lagging scenes and awkward transitions.  Otherwise, this production is top-notch.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

As Same Kind of Different As Me is based on a book and a true story, sometimes it seems like it’s too much like a book turned into a movie.  This is evident in unnecessary narration and obvious dialogue that tends to spoon-feed the story to the viewer.  Some of the characters tend to be portrayed too perfectly, yet this is a great true story despite these flaws.  The flashbacks are used in highly effective ways and are actually the highlights of the film because of the story they tell.  There are a lot of great messages and lessons to learn from this story, but we would have liked it if this film indulged less in drama and more in the opportunity it had to portray an epic story full of realistic, flawed, and accessible characters.  As mentioned before, there are too many lagging and choppy scenes that hurt this goal from coming to fruition.  However, there is enough good to make this at least an interesting movie to watch.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Though this movie is mostly professionally cast, there are a few issues that keep this section from being all that it could be.  For one, the lead actor and actress sometimes seem to be phoning in their performances, and at times they are too dramatic.  However, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight are particularly well-cast and well-acted; these two almost save this cast on their own.  Moreover, other cast members outside of Greg Kinnear and Renée Zellweger are also fine and post good performances.  In the end, this punctuates an above average film that could have gone further.


Same Kind of Different As Me had everything going for it, but it stopped just short of greatness.  The excellent true story and high amount of funding almost forced this film to be above-average from the beginning, but the pedestrian nature of its presentation and its over-indulgence in drama apart from character development tripped it up.  In the end, we can’t help but wonder if this was another one of those movies designed to make a quick cash grab at the theaters rather than make a real difference, which seems like the original intent of the book’s authors.  We may never know, but this is at least a fine film that most audiences will enjoy.


Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points


The Masked Saint (Movie Review)


He’s a saint
What is he here for again?

Plot Summary

When Chris “The Masked Saint” Samuels retires from ‘wrestling’, he follows God’s call on his life to pastor a church in a small Michigan town.  However, when he and his family arrive, they find a much different situation than they expected.  The church is struggling to stay afloat financially and is controlled by a power hungry rich member.  What’s more, the town is wrought with crime and victims are downtrodden.  Chris doesn’t want to just sit back and watch everything happen, so he takes it upon himself to become a masked vigilante on the streets, in order to stop crime before it happens.  But as Chris becomes more and more successful, he finds himself at a crossroads: will he live in his own strength or will be turn to God for help?


Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a debut independent Christian film, The Masked Saint has pretty good production quality.  The video quality is clear and the camera work is a little above average.  Audio quality is mostly passable, but some scenes are much louder than others.  The soundtrack sounds like it’s from a Hallmark movie about a small town.  The props are quite professional looking, but therein lies another problem.  It seems that too much money was spent on the production of the ‘wrestling’ scenes and not enough was spent elsewhere.  Thus, the editing is terrible and greatly isolates the viewer with awkward transitions between scenes that have little to do with each other.  As we will see next, this movie is plentiful with subplots but barren with coherency.  While the production is average, it’s still not money well spent.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The Masked Saint is a collection of loosely associated ideas, including a ‘wrestling’ sports redemption storyline, a stereotypical struggling small church in a ‘bad’ neighborhood subplot, and a mysterious vigilante who helps victims of crime idea.  The creators attempted to ram these concepts together in a lame fashion, which leaves the audience scratching their heads as to what they are supposed to be watching.  As the empty characters leap from one thing to the next, events happen with no real basis except for the fact that the writers wanted them to happen so the movie could continue.  The good ideas that are hidden somewhere in this nightmare are either burned out too quickly or not emphasized enough.  There are too many gaping plot holes, and dialogue is forced and awkward, including some flies-over-your-head attempts at comedy.  Also, we definitely need to talk about the long and useless fighting scenes that dominate the film’s runtime and that look more like cage fighting than wrestling.  There is so much fighting that we can’t even catch our breath to get to know the characters before another sports music montage occurs.  Basically, there were too many cooks in the kitchen that produced this mind-bending multi-course meal.  They needed to stop and think about plot continuity before proceeding.

Acting Quality (1 point)

With a semi-professional cast, The Masked Saint really had potential.  Sometimes the acting isn’t that bad, but too many times, it is.  Some cast members are inconsistent in the way they act and deliver.  Attempts at comedy are especially awkward.  Basically, this cast could have been something, but nothing panned out.


Essentially, The Masked Saint is a collection of smashed together ideas and cause of collision of insanity.  It’s a total train wreck and must have been a headache to storyboard (if they did).  Any good intentions here are lost as the creators are unable to communicate what they are trying to do.  Crashing The Rev, Brother White, and Beyond the Mask together into one film is definitely not a good plan.  The fact that much of the content—save for whatever you want to call the fighting scenes—is not particularly original gives us reason to think this film wasn’t really justifiable at all.  In the end, it’s just another unfortunate installment in the endless saga of failed independent Christian films.


Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points