Writer(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Jon Gunn, Scott LeRette, Susy Flory
Director(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Jon Gunn
Producer(s): Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Jerilyn Esquibel, Kevin Downes, Peter Facinelli, Meredith Wieck, Chelsea Kujawa
Starring: Zachary Levi, Jacob Laval, Meghann Fahy, Peter Facinelli, Drew Powell, Pilot Bunch, Patricia Heaton
Plot Synopsis: “The Unbreakable Boy” centers on a teenager with autism who also has a rare brittle bone disease. Described as “told in the charmingly unpredictable voice” of the teen, the film is billed as “a funny and inspiring true story of a young couple stumbling through parenthood, who find constant inspiration from the joy and optimism of their spectacularly unique son.” The film also is described as in “the spirit of ‘Wonder’ and ‘Peanut Butter Falcon,’ with a dash of ‘JoJo Rabbit.'” It will be based on the true story of Iowan Austin LeRette, whose father, Scott, candidly chronicled his son’s life, struggles and faith in God in the book “The Unbreakable Boy,” co-written with New York Times best-selling author Susy Flory.
William Wilberforce, always a crusader for social justice at all levels, had never considered the evils of slavery in the British Empire until his friend William Pitt introduced him to a group of anti-slavery activists, or abolitionists. After learning about the horrors that occurred on slave ships and on plantations in the West Indies, Wilberforce began using his influence in the House of Commons to put a stop to the evil practice through legislation. What he did not anticipate was the pushback from the pro-slavery lobby. After exhausting all his options, the source of Wilberforce’s motivation suddenly comes from an unlikely source—a blind pastor with a song that was destined to change cultures everywhere.
Production Quality (3 points)
Amazing Grace has obviously been produced by a top notch crew. Many crews are wary of historical movies, likely because it is difficult to achieve the proper level of professionalism and to acquire the props, costumes, sets, and locations needed for an authentic film. Amazing Grace accomplishes all of these very well, bringing this historical story to life without committing the usual errors. The camera work is excellent, as are the video and sound qualities. There is nothing negative to say here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
Adapting a historical plot can be difficult, depending on how much content the writers want to cover—sometimes they can bite off more than they can chew. However, it can also be a far better plot than most fictional plots, since it is based on true events, and both of these things can be said about Amazing Grace. Though it covers a lot of time, the character development is efficient and believable, which is very difficult to pull off. This is due to great dialogue an a poignant message of social justice. Sensitive elements are dealt with handily without sugarcoating reality. Great care is given to historical accuracy while balancing effective storytelling. This film has the true feel of a historical epic that has transformational application for us today. Overall, this is a great historical narrative to adapt into a movie, and the end result is still masterful.
Acting Quality (3 points)
Since this is a professional and mainstream cast, we should not expect anything less than great. As a side note, it is unfortunate that this cannot be said about predominantly Christian casts. In Amazing Grace, each actor or actress fits their role very well—each has been cast very appropriately. Line delivery is excellent, as is emotional expression. Also, the costuming is historically accurate. While there were a lot of potential acting pitfalls, none of them were fallen into.
More movies need to be made on important historical topics such as the different facets and time periods of the abolitionist movement. Though historical films often require sizable budgets and subject matter experts, this rendition handles these complications without blinking. Amazing Grace needs to serve as a constant reminder of the types of movies that Christian film makers should be consistently rolling out. Therefore, Amazing Grace receives an x factor point for re-watchibility and joins the ranks of perfect Christian films.
Sarah Fields just wants to know that she is doing a good job in her occupation as a full time homeschool mom to her three young kids. But a lot of the time, she feels like she does not measure up. She’s also a struggling blogger. She looks up to her pastor’s wife, who seems to have everything put together. On a whim, Sarah decides to plan an impulse night out with her pastor’s wife and her best friend Izzy, also a young mother. Sarah’s husband Sean gets on board and agrees to help watch the kids, but none of them are prepared for the crazy night ahead. Together, along with a cast of offbeat characters, they are thrust into an impromptu search for a missing baby and discover along the way that the things they are all looking for are right under their noses.
Production Quality (3 points)
As expected, the Erwin brothers have put together another top-notch production, from camera work to special effects to editing to creative overlays. Several difficult scenes are filmed with professional flair. The camera angles are well done. Special effects and creative overlays are used appropriately. The soundtrack brings the movie to life exquisitely. Finally, the movie is edited to perfection. There are no wasted scenes and no plot holes. To put it plainly, the Erwin brothers continue to set themselves apart in the area of production.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)
The scope of this plot is limited, but the Erwin brothers make the best of it. The comedy is not overdone and is actually quite funny, contrary to most attempted comedy in Christian movies. It is driven by excellent and witty dialogue, which also supports the accessible characters. The thing that makes the comedy truly humorous is the fact the real-life predicaments are shown in hilarious and sometimes satirical lights, such that we could easily see ourselves in these situations. The film contains no real plot twists, but the events are realistic and true to life, as previously mentioned. Besides the limited plot scope, the one error of this section is the overuse of narration throughout. However, it is still a highly enjoyable storyline that provokes the thinking.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
The Erwin brothers continue to make average actors great. Each character is cast into an appropriate role, as is to be expected. Kevin Downes and Andrea Logan White play perhaps their best roles to date. In a comedy, the acting is the anchor that determines the quality. The excellent acting coaching of the Erwin brothers crew hit another slam dunk.
In short, the Erwin brothers have defied typical Christian movie genres by creating a successful and truly funny comedy, proving that vulgarity and cheesiness are not necessary to produce laughs. October Baby and Mom’s Night Out could not be any more opposite in genre, yet they are both executed wonderfully. Great things can be expected from this crew in the future.