Movie Renovation: Hardflip

See original review here.


Production Improvements

One of the biggest production annoyances with Hardflip is that too often, it feels like one long Decypher Down music video (oh the good ole’ early 2000s).  However, there is a healthy dose of Red that helps things.  Nonetheless, though this movie was marketed as a music-filled experience, this is just too much.  The music is too loud most of the time, and it thus hampers the film’s potential.  Two main things that would make this production higher are to cut down the music to a more palatable amount and to bring the schizophrenic editing up to industry standards.  These two fixes would have gone a long way in pushing this film closer to the Hall of Fame.

Plot and Storyline Improvements

The music overload also undercuts the plot’s ability to truly flourish in this film.  There are a lot of creative artistic undertones in Hardflip that do not reach their fullest potential due to the wild and dizzying presentation of the plot events.  Thus, some organization was in order.  The psychological elements of Hardflip are a plus, but they need better development.  For example, the asides with the homeless guy are interesting, but we need to be better connected with this subplot.  Also, as with most films, improved characters via more complex and meaningful dialogue would have gone a long way to increasing this film’s overall score.  Thus, with fewer music videos, a more responsible use of artistic and psychological elements, and stronger characters based on realistic dialogue, Hardflip could have been a Hall of Fame film.

Acting Improvements

John Schneider and Randy Wayne are a shaky lead role combo at best.  If Caleb is supposed to be a teenager, Randy Wayne looks too old.  John Schneider has shown that he is a product of his directors, so some better acting coaching was in order here.  The supporting cast members could also use some upgrades.  In short, better casting and acting coaching always go a long way.


Johnny Remo has always been close but not quite there in his films.  Hardflip was possibly the closest he has ever gotten to true greatness in film making.  He had great ideas here that, with further refinement, such as a more professional production, a more responsible use of music, a more organized plot, and more refined acting and casting, could have been a Hall of Fame film.  We may never know the fullest potential of this movie, but perhaps future film makers can learn from Hardflip to make their films even better.

Cutback [2010] (Movie Review)


Plot Summary

Luke Harris and his friend Casey have one thing on their mind as they finish up their last year of high school: surf!  But Luke’s parents are constantly pressuring him to grow up and choose a college for him to further his education.  Luke is focused on making the local surf team and beating out a new ‘popular’ guy—not to mention getting the attention of the girl he likes—but little does Luke know that despite his own plans, God has plans for him that he could never imagine.


Production Quality (1 point)

Cutback is different from most Skipstone films, in that it is less artistic than usual.  Video and audio quality are on par, yet the soundtrack is far too loud and tends to be too ‘surf’ oriented.  There is also some shaky camera work in the action scenes.  Outside scenes are otherwise relatively fine, and the sets and locations are acceptable.  However, the editing leaves something to be desired as it falls into the sports film trap of including too many musical sports action montages.  The good news is that the Skipstone team’s production skills did improve after this effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Though Cutback is mostly a formulaic high school sports plot, there are some interesting twists and turns in the middle of the film that we did not see coming.  At first, the dialogue is far too ‘cool’ and ‘surfer-dude’, almost to the point of embarrassment, and this creates very cheesy characters.  However, this subsides as the movie goes on and they actually become believable characters.  As usual, Johnny Remo and team deal with realistic life circumstances that really make the viewer think.  The messaging of this story is quite good.  However, though everything overall improves by the middle of the film, issues tend to be resolved too easily.  Yet in the end, despite some errors, Cutback becomes a somewhat meaningful film.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This cast is fairly professional, though sometimes they seem unsure and\or lazy.  They also tend to play the whole ‘dude’ thing too much, but they are mostly fine.  Emotions are believable and line delivery is average.  Thus, an average score is warranted.


Like many Johnny Remo movies, we would like to see a remake of Cutback.  It has the tools for success, even if they are not always applied properly.  Remo always demonstrates a special creativity and ability to craft different types of films, but he is often hampered by a collection of small errors and some poor execution.  We believe he and his team have great potential for the future as they continue to become better film makers.  We anticipate what they have planned next.


Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points


Saved By Grace [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Rick’s wife is tragically killed on Thanksgiving by a madman who hates Rick’s police work, Rick is sent into a tailspin for five years and is unable to cope.  So five years after the tragedy, he plans on committing suicide on Thanksgiving.  However, his act is interrupted by Grace, a mysterious woman who needs his help getting to her family on Thanksgiving.  Rick reluctantly agrees to help her and soon finds a whole new world of possibilities open up for him.


Production Quality (3 points)

Johnny Remo and Skipstone Pictures have come a long way from poor productions to this quality one.  There are virtually no production errors in Saved by Grace.  The camera work is professional and effective, and the video quality is clear.  Audio quality is great and the soundtrack is good, which is a trademark with Remo.  Sets and locations are also good—there are basically no production errors in this film, which is a huge step in the right direction.  If Skipstone keeps this up, they will be going places.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though the movie begins with an attention-grabbing prologue, it quickly slows down and tends to be a bit too melancholy.  However, the struggles portrayed throughout are realistic.  The dialogue is a mixed bag—sometimes it’s too obvious while other times it builds the characters well.  Flashbacks are used effectively, as is the trademark Johnny Remo artistic flair.  However, this movie is derailed from greatness by its very simplistic storyline that is based too heavily on coincidences.  It is very simplistic and linear as the characters go from one thing to the next for the sake of the plot’s progression.  We would have liked to see more content, deeper subplots, and further development in order for this movie to be all that it could have been.

Acting Quality (3 points)

Though this cast is small, it is very professional.  Each actor and actress is cast appropriately and delivers their roles effectively.  Emotions are believable and line delivery are flawless.  In short, there are virtually no acting errors, which is another major step for Skipstone.


Johnny Remo has always had an ability to create films that have unique feels to them, and this is true about Saved by Grace.  Where in the past his teams have struggled to post good productions and casting, both of these areas do not suffer in this film.  However, the lack of substantial plot content really keeps it from being all that it could be.  We know that this movie means well and was properly supported with the resources it needed, but in order to take the next step, the Skipstone team needs to invest more time in their plots.  Even slight improvement will land them on the Hall of Fame, so we look forward to their future projects.


Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10 points



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


Like a Country Song (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Jake Reeson is an aspirational country artist trying to find ‘the big break’ in Nashville.  He’s running from a broken family life and checkered past, always thinking that the next gig and the next drink are the answer to his problems.  However, when he begins to rediscover loved ones from his past that he thought he left behind, the emptiness of his life is finally exposed and he is left dazed and confused.  The only way forward is to determine what he’s going to do with the Christian faith some of his loved ones are trying to introduce him to.


Production Quality (1 point)

Like a Country Song, in keeping with other Skipstone productions, is a real mess that really could have been something.  The video quality is clear, but the camera work is shaky.  The sets and locations are pretty good, but they could be better.  This creative team usually prides themselves in creating innovative soundtracks, and they usually do.  In some parts, this soundtrack is quite interesting, but it other parts, it feels shoved down your throat.  The live music element is interesting but not used properly, including the stupid title track.  Sometimes artistic elements become too abstract and isolate the viewer.  Also, editing is very much absent from this film as long staring scenes are allowed to stay and many points are understated.  In short, this was a production that had a lot going for it but never found the mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

This film is basically an incomplete idea.  Focusing on behavioral and family issues is commendable, but not when the characters are underdeveloped and empty.  We cannot appreciate the potentially meaningful struggles these characters experience because we cannot connect with them as real people.  There is far too much melodrama and not enough redemption.  Issues are resolved too easily with no real explanation as to how they were resolved.  The little dialogue that is in this film is filled with information dumps and clichés.  The timeline of the story jumps all around with no real explanation.  On the positive side, there are some slightly creative albeit unfinished spiritual elements in the storyline.  But this does not make up for the other issues, especially the very confusing ending.  In the end, any meaning that could be derived from this plot is forced upon you and is not conveyed in a redemptive way.  It’s just another wasted idea.

Acting Quality (0 points)

In an attempt to build a ‘star-studded’ cast, the production team struck out on quality.  For starters, all the makeup jobs are horrible.  Cast members either exhibit extreme over the top emotion or monotone nothingness.  Too many lines are mumbled.  Billy Ray Cyrus really never needs to be cast in the film, as he gives off the appearance of druggie the entire time.  Joel Smallbone constantly trying to mask his Australian accent is also annoying and unnecessary.  There is really nothing good to highlight here.


Sigh.  We have to wonder why this film was not cut or reworked during the storyboard process, if there was one.  All we can figure is that they got these ‘big name’ cast members to agree to a vague idea and then ‘had’ to go with it for the sake of making another Christian movie.  Redemption plots have huge amounts of potential, as do movies involving original soundtracks.  However, these concepts in and of themselves are not enough to carry a film.  You need more than this.  The day Christian movie makers learn this for good is the day that the entertainment world is finally turned on its ear.


Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points


A Letter to Dad [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Dan Donahue believes he has found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.  But as he continues to struggle with anger issues, he can’t help but feel that they are related to his lack of a healthy relationship with his father.  Therefore, he begins to write a letter to his estranged father detailing what he missed out on.  As Dan writes, his mind drifts back to his childhood and he wonders what could have been.


Production Quality (0 points)

Exactly what is supposed to be happening with this production?  Is it a flashback within a flashback or a series of flashbacks?  Why are the sepia tones inconsistent?  This is possibly the cheapest looking production we have ever witnessed.  The camera work is deplorable and the video quality is from another century.  Lighting is very amateur throughout the film.  In some scenes, it is extremely hard to hear what is being said.  Some sequences are dominated by the silly soundtrack.  As for the editing, there is no way to understand what is even happening from one scene to the next.  Everything is out of context and obscure.  In summary, you can’t get any more poorly homemade than this.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

The idea behind this plot—the fact that absent fatherhood affects children later in life—is highly important and must be discussed in movie form.  However, this is absolutely not the way to do it.  Much like Lukewarm, an important family systems issue is made a mockery of in A Letter to Dad.  There is no coherence in this storyline as the ‘plot’ meanders from letter writing flashbacks to other flashbacks to present day (we guess?).  Scenes are randomly strung together with no continuity between them and the viewer is left lost in translation.  Any meaning that is attempted to be conveyed goes over your head.  Dialogue is choppy and inconsistent, causing the characters to be empty shells.  There is really little else to be said—there is such little content in this plot that it barely registers any life.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Sadly, the bad news does not end.  It’s possible that this virtually unknown and tiny cast never had a chance without acting coaching.  There is literally nothing good to say here—the delivery of lines is awkward and emotions cannot be felt.  There are so few cast members that it just becomes glaringly obvious that so support is being provided to them.  Unfortunately, they likely wasted their time.


We sincerely believe that the motive behind this movie is pure, but the delivery is terrible.  This one would have been better off as a short film.  The good news is that it will have little to no impact in the movie industry, which means it won’t further contribute to bad publicity.  However, the bad news is that the time of the creators of this film was wasted and money was dumped down the drain.  Jesus spoke about counting the cost before undertaking a big project, and we believe it’s high time for Christian filmmakers to begin doing this.


Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Hardflip (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Caleb, a delinquent teenager who wants to make it big in the skateboard scene, has his world rocked when his single mother slips into a coma, thus threatening his financial security and very existence.  Desperate, Caleb sets out to search for his long lost biological father with some hope that he may want to take him in.  But when his father acts like he doesn’t care, Caleb is further driven into darkness, immersing himself in the world of skateboarding and drugs as his mother’s condition grows worse.  Little does he know that the only way to escape the darkness around him is to face the darkness inside of himself.


Production Quality (1.5 points)

For a PureFlix distributed film, the production quality of Hardflip is decent, but not above average.  The video and sound quality are both clear, but the music levels are very inconsistent—sometimes blaringly loud and other times too silent.  The camera angles are sometimes interesting and artistic and other times unprofessional.  The editing is all over the map, probably due to the small amount of plot content.  There is a lot of artistic potential in this film, but it is often drowned out by the high music content.  Overall, the production is back and forth and is unfortunately most positive section of the movie.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Hardflip has a vast amount of potential that is not tapped into.  The plot structure is very unique and not typical of these types of movies.  There is good artistic material and musical overlays, but the music sequences are too long and too many in content.  There are some interesting psychological and abstract elements, but they are lost among the negative issues.  These include cheap dialogue and many wasted filler scenes.  The skateboarding subplot is not properly developed and only contributes an air of unprofessionalism.  The end is slightly unpredictable, but it is difficult to reach that point.  In short, where some movies have no potential, Hardflip has plenty of it.  Unfortunately, it is not used properly and is wasted.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

John Schneider has cheesy delivery of his lines and Randy Wayne looks older than he’s supposed to be.  This is not necessarily their fault—there is really no acting coaching present in this film.  The cast is small, but it has more potential than most casts.  All of the skateboard actors seem amateurish.  In summary, the acting keeps with the theme of Hardflip and never reaches its ceiling.


The theme of this film is wasted potential.  The idea behind Hardflip is more creative than most, and the music adds an interesting element to it.  But the music’s overuse seems to indicate that there is not enough plot content to sustain a nearly two-hour film.  This movie needed an additional writer to come alongside the original writers and help craft and synthesize the subplots better.  The characters need to be fleshed out, perhaps through flashbacks.  The music needs to be brought to a happy medium.  In short, Hardflip needs a remake because it would be a shame to let these good ideas go to waste.


Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points