After Trey Caldwell’s father is tragically killed overseas while serving in the military, Trey feels like he will never fulfill the dream his father gave him—the dream of racing their soapbox car in the derby. But then, Trey’s kind school principal introduces him to Roy Gibbs, a troubled fireman who would like to forget the death of his son. The two of them find that they have something in common: a passion for soapbox derby racing. As Roy trains Trey, they develop a unique bond and inadvertently find healing from their wounds.
Production Quality (2.5 points)
As Corbin Bernsen’s first foray into the inspirational market, 25 Hill demonstrates his typical high production quality that he likely learned in the mainstream sector and is unfortunately not commonplace in the Christian field. Beginning with an effective opening sequence that tells the story without narration, this film checks all the necessary boxes for production quality. Video quality, camera work, audio quality, and soundtrack are all professional and effective. Sets, locations, and props are also above standard. The only complaint to raise here is the high number of sports montages, which are too typical of this genre. Otherwise, this is a very respectable production that many Christian film makers can model after.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
Before Bersen decided to develop his own zany brand of satire, he decided to create a grief plot that has a commitment to taking jabs are stereotypical plot elements. His take on this predictable plot structure is enjoyable, yet like Bernsen’s other films, 25 Hill still includes too many formulaic elements that are commonly found in sports\grief plots. Yet his continual pointing out and exposing of typical movie clichés is a fun experience nonetheless, as is his satire on product placements. With good dialogue and character development, this story demonstrates a better version of the Bernsen brand, which later devolved into silliness and insanity in Christian Mingle, 3 Day Test, and In-lawfully Yours. The biggest thing that holds 25 Hill back is its predictability, as Bernsen does his typical flirting with creativity but doesn’t really follow through. Yet in the end, this will be an enjoyable story for most and is certainly worth a watch.
Acting Quality (3 points)
Bernsen and his team completely nailed their casting work. Each actor and actress fits their characters comfortably as they deliver their lines and inflections flawlessly. Emotional performances are highly effective, thus making this a perfect score.
We definitely understand where Bernsen is coming from—sometimes. He wants to make quality inspirational films while at the same time exposing where many films in the genre go wrong. He always thinks about doing something different with his storylines, but in the end goes back to the typical, safe ending. Nonetheless, 25 Hill will be liked by most audiences, and it is certainly worth a watch. Perhaps eventually, Bernsen will finally hit the home run he has been searching for all these years.
Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points