Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge

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Rene Gutteridge is known to us as one of the most creative authors of Christian fiction on the market today. She is most certainly not afraid to tackle both unusual and unexpected subjects and transform them into above average novels. Misery Loves Company is one of her more recent novels in the suspense genre, and while it is not her best book, it is mostly up to her usual standards. It is my opinion that she could have done a better job on the ending, as it was somewhat typical. However, the end of the novel does not diminish the overall heart of the story. Misery Loves Company deals with subjects such as grief, loss, anger, bitterness, secrets, truth, the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing. The opening chapters of the novel introduce the reader to the main character, a blogger and struggling writer named Juliet Belleno. Juliet, or Jules as she likes to be called, recently suffered the sudden, tragic death of her husband Jason. Shortly following his death she retreated from the world and currently lives an isolated life within the walls of her home. The only people she has consistent contact with are her alcoholic father and her late husband’s friend Chris. Jules finds purpose and stability in posting a monthly book review on the latest releases by her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. However, little does she know how this habit will affect both herself, and others. One day, shortly after posting her monthly review, Jules takes a routine trip to the grocery store. An ordinary day becomes extraordinary when she runs into Patrick Reagan, the creator of her favorite novels. They talk and even go out to dinner, then, the unthinkable happens…..she wakes up in a strange home, on a strange bed, in the dark…..alone. Jules discovers that she has been kidnapped by her idol, and that he has been spying on her life for quite some time. Juliet’s father discovers her disappearance and convinces Chris to search for his daughter. Both Chris and Jules quickly discover that Patrick is an unstable man driven by grief regarding the death of his wife. Patrick believes that Jules needs his help to become a great writer, and goes to extreme lengths to prove his theory. Through a captor/captive relationship, and deep soul-searching, Jules and Patrick find that through their shared grief, they can find healing. The story does have a few unexpected twists that make the novel better as a whole. To find out what these are….read the book!;) Unfortunately, the conclusion of this book is somewhat predictable, it is almost like the author did not know where to end the story. Furthermore, it appears as though Gutteridge spent plenty of time developing the Patrick character and not enough on the Juliet character. If she had developed each character with the same dedication as she did Patrick, this would be a landmark novel. Even so, Misery Loves Company has plenty of content that a Christian filmmaker could build off of to create a great film. That being said, this novel is yet another book that would make a great Christian movie….in the right hands.

Rene Gutteridge: Greetings from the Flipside

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Rene Gutteridge is a widely read author of Christian fiction who enjoys employing eccentric charm and unexpected plot lines into her writing. She is certainly one of the most, if not the most, unique Christian authors out there today, and is well-loved by both her readers and those who work with her in film-making. Yes, we here at Box Office Revolution are happy to say that Rene Gutteridge is interested in making Christian films based on her books. What a concept! Gutteridge is what you would call a sentimental comedian of sorts, as most of her novels are either in the comedy or romance genre, or a little of both! She is not afraid to try and employ the unexpected into her novels and her life, and we appreciate that she is using her artistic side to influence Christian film-making for the better. Greetings From the Flipside is a perfect read for someone who is interested in getting to know Gutteridge’s books, as it will define her style and draw an innocent reader in to the slightly absurd comic happenings that make her novels all that they are. This novel deals with subjects such as the mind, life, death, the afterlife, broken hearts, broken trust, renewed purpose, coma patients, miraculous occurrences, and God’s will for our individual lives. The opening chapters of Greetings From the Flipside introduce the reader to the main character, a woman named Hope Landon. Hope has it all, a job that she loves, the perfect fiance, and an exciting future ahead of her. However, her perfect world comes crashing down when her fiance leaves her at the altar. Confused, hurt, and brokenhearted, Hope disappears from society to recover from her broken heart. When she returns, she discovers that everyone has forgotten her and assumed that she committed suicide as a result of her jilting. In short, everyone thinks she is dead. Hope retreats to New York City, only to find that her troubles are the same no matter where she is. She finds a new job and a new purpose, but something is not quite right, she just can’t figure out what. Hope will have to learn to distinguish fantasy from reality, and remember what really happened after she was left at the altar. She will also learn that everything is not as it appears. The novel ends with a major plot twist and a completely unexpected conclusion, to discover what happens, read the book!;) This novel would make an excellent comedy/romance film in the hands of the right writer/director/producer. In fact, I am surprised that Gutteridge has not championed this book to be made into a film yet.

Skid [2017] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Danny McSweeney never asked to co-pilot a plane full of eccentric characters so soon after his girlfriend broke up with him, especially when he has to co-pilot with a difficult female captain who seems to have no mercy for anyone, especially not for their high maintenance flight crew.  The stakes are raised when an airline investigator joins the flight to watch their performance.  Little do they know that besides carrying a Dutch prisoner, a man smuggling diamonds, a woman with her potbellied pig, a jilted ex-girlfriend, and a woman and her elderly mother, an airline spy has been assigned to audit the flight’s customer service.  But when push comes to shove and it comes to life or death situations, the real heroes will be seen.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Skid is truly an ambitious independent effort.  Though production elements are a little shaky at first, likely due to low budgeting in the early stages.  This includes some shaky camera work and odd camera angles, as well as a touch of low video quality and poor lighting.  However, all of this improves as the movie goes on.  Audio quality also improves throughout, and sports an interesting and creative soundtrack.  Though the sets are mostly limited to one airplane, they are used effectively and give off a realistic feel.  By the time the climax is reached, Skid feels like a full-fledged suspense film, despite its limited budget.  This production team should be proud of what they were able to accomplish.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Adapted from the genius of Rene Gutteridge, Skid brings a fresh genre perspective to Christian film.  Though it tends to jump all over the place at first due to the myriad of characters, things settle down as the movie goes on.  There are many characters, yet the plot is deeply dialogue-driven and creative.  This story is an example of why we desperately want to see more Christian novels brought to the big screen, especially novels from authors who put great effort into developing characters like Gutteridge does.  Plenty of genuine and somewhat eccentric comedy ensues in Skid and is captured effectively by the writers of this film.  The longer you stick with it, the better it gets, until it culminates in an extremely well-executed ending sequence.  Though the end is a little predictable, it’s still worth watching and brings fresh air to Christian film.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Though this cast is a little awkward at times, they really pull off a show-stopping performance to be so ‘little known’.  Each cast member assumes their character flawlessly, thus reflecting on excellent casting, especially with so many people to cast.  Like the rest of this film, the acting quality overall improves as the movie progresses, showing an ability to learn on the job.  Overall, this is the film’s strongest suit.

Conclusion

Skid is exactly the way a first-time project should be: making the best of a limited budget and demonstrating true creativity.  Using a book plot is always a great jump start to your career.  This film is your textbook raw beginning that lives up to its fullest potential and demonstrates greater abilities for the future.  We would love to see Tim and Vicki Brown and team do an action-adventure film in the future, although doing more Rene Gutteridge books is certainly a great idea too.  No matter where they go next, we have high hopes for them and wish them well.

 

Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points

 

2016 Box Office Revolution Awards

Every year, movies are released and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity.  Films 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 movie makers and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

 

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: Providence

Runners-up: God’s Not Dead 2, Priceless, Risen

 

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: Priceless

Runners-up: I’m Not Ashamed, Risen, Heaven Bound, The Matchbreaker

 

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Joel Smallbone

Runners-up: Joseph Fiennes (Risen), Danny Vinson (Heaven Bound), Michael Joiner (Heaven Bound), Wesley Elder (The Matchbreaker)

 

 

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Masey McLain

Runners-up: Bianca Santos (Priceless), Christina Grimmie (The Matchbreaker), Nancy Stafford (Heaven Bound), Karen Abercrombie (God’s Compass)

 

Staff Choice Director of the Year: Kevin Reynolds (Risen)

Runners-up: Ben Smallbone (Priceless), Adam Drake\Torry Martin (Heaven Bound), Wesley Elder\Torry Martin (The Matchbreaker)

 

Staff Choice Writers of the Year: Marshal Younger\Torry Martin (Heaven Bound\The Matchbreaker)

Runners-up: Chris Dowling\Tyler Poelle (Priceless), Kevin Reynolds\Paul Aiello (Risen), Rene Gutteridge (Heaven Bound), Wesley Elder (The Matchbreaker)

 

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: Priceless

Runners-up: Risen, Heaven Bound, The Matchbreaker

Love’s Complicated {My Life As a Doormat} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Leah lives a very controlled and scheduled life.  She does the same things with her safe boyfriend, tries to write, and lets people tell her what to do all the time.  But something is missing.  When her publisher asks for deeper writing, Leah feels inadequate.  But her life changes forever when her boyfriend signs her up for a conflict management course under the guise that he will be attending with her.  Though she is angry at first, she slowly begins to see just how much her life can change.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

As we have said before, Hallmark knows how to invest in a proper production.  In this film, camera work is flawless and video quality is crisp.  The audio quality is good but the soundtrack is standard for Hallmark.  Sets and locations are realistic.  The biggest issues to raise here are the editing problems.  The editing causes the film to be choppy and confusing.  Otherwise, this is a baseline production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)

Love’s Complicated, which is the Hallmarked title of My Life As a Doormat, is probably as good as a Hallmark plot is going to get, and they only have Rene Gutteridge to thank for her ideas, witty dialogue, and believable characters.  Though the plot still fits into the stereotypical and formulaic Hallmark romance storyline and progression, it is developed to its fullest extent.  The premise vacillates between cheesy and intriguing but is still enjoyable due to some genuine comedy.  However, there appears to be too much missing content as the plot tends to hop from highlight to highlight.  In the end, this is a good plot and makes the movie worth watching.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

As usual for Hallmark, the casting totally derails this film from being all that it could have been.  Most of the cast members are over-costumed and generally average in their emotional delivery.  However, their line delivery is very robotic and measured.  The biggest drag is the lead actress, who was clearly not suited to play an introvert.  Though not all is bad here, the acting overall puts a strain on this otherwise fine movie.

Conclusion

Hallmark should really consider having Rene Gutteridge regularly write more of their plots.  She has a true gift of character development, enough for her storyline to survive Hallmarking to an extent.  Love’s Complicated also has good production support to a point, but the acting really holds this film back.  In a romantic comedy, the cast is everything, and this group just didn’t deliver.  Nonetheless, Gutteridge’s plots and characters are always enjoyable and many will find this movie to be so.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

 

Heaven Bound [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Ted is a successful dog food marketer until one fateful day when he accidentally kills his company’s iconic mascot and becomes the town laughingstock.  Underemployed and in debt, Ted and his wife Josie are doing their best to make ends meet, but it’s not enough.  Josie is unhappy, so she concocts a plan to swipe her elderly boss’ valuables in order to pay their debts.  Accompanied by her lazy little brother, Ted and Josie attempt to pull off a caper but soon find that their intended victim has more in store for them than they thought.

 

Production Quality (3 points)

Heaven Bound is a measuring rod for films with limited sets.  It uses each location to its fullest potential through effective and witty camera work and crisp video quality.  Audio quality is also exquisite, including a memorable original soundtrack.  The editing is highly effective in driving the comedy home.  In short, there are no production errors, thus giving this area a perfect score.  Adam Drake and Torry Martin show true talent with productions and great potential for the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

You can always count on Marshal Younger, Torry Martin, and Rene Gutteridge to deliver an eccentrically funny storyline filled with true comedy.  This plot is a masterful mix of humor and meaning.  They demonstrate how to write a plot with only a handful of characters: though they are few in number, each character is very deep and believable.  The biggest drawback to raise here is that the plot is mostly formulaic and predictable, but it is still highly enjoyable.  This team took the storyline to its fullest potential, and that’s all we ever want to see.  They have true talent and should be utilized in more movies in the future.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Though a small cast, this group carries the film well with highly professional acting.  Each character is cast appropriately and delivers their lines effectively.  A wide range of believable emotions are also displayed.  With no errors, this is a job well done.

Conclusion

With Drake and Martin handling production and Younger, Martin, and Gutteridge handling the writing, Heaven Bound is a true work of art—a lethal combination of comic genius, thus warranting a spot on the Hall of Fame.  This film had a limited budget—imagine what they could do with more resources!  This team has true talent and they will be getting bigger and better as time goes on; we can’t wait to see what they have planned next.  In the meantime, Heaven Bound is definitely a movie you want to make time to see.

 

Final Rating: 7.5 out of 10 points

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Full disclosure: We were provided by the creator with a copy of this film in exchange for a fair and honest review