Producer(s): Ben Graham, Scott Highberger, Kevan Otto, Brandon Riley, Tim Warren, Ron Wolff
Starring: Joey Lawrence, Michael W. Smith, Jossie Thacker, Danny Farder, Ben Graham, Chandra Michaels, Tom McElroy, Chad Moseley, Daniel Ball, Roger Welp, Katie Mancuso, Steve Flanigan, Dave Honigman, Ron Wolff, Obi Obisoulstar Uwakwe, Tim Hubbard, Sarah Joanou, Brenda Reiser, Ezra Fontanez, Lindsay Whisler, Elyse Collier, Joe Goehl
Plot Synopsis: This biopic film tells the true story of Scott Highberger, a man who was in and out of jail for a big part of his life. Based on his memoir, the film will cover his 35 arrests, eight felony convictions, five prison sentences, and his path to drug addiction and personal turmoil. The film will end with his new life as an outreach pastor at Road to Life Church’s Michigan City campus who ministers to inmates at Westville Correctional Center.
When John is encouraged by one of his coworkers to check out the site Social Friend Pages to see if he can find his high school girlfriend, he begins a downward spiral. Though he is already married, he begins meeting his old girlfriend just to ‘catch up’. Things get out of hand and John soon finds himself hiding from his wife and from God. Everything comes to a head and John will have to make a decision on which path he is going to take.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
Online is a surprisingly okay production with good video quality and camera work, but it is not error-free. Audio quality is fine, but the soundtrack is very stock. There are also too many scenes with poor lighting. Sets and locations are fine, but we would have liked to see more diversity. Finally, the editing is a major problem in this film as there are far too many empty scenes. Most of the runtime is filler content and wasted time. In short, this is an average production, but it doesn’t save this movie from itself.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
This is perhaps one of the worst so-called plots written. Besides the ridiculous and boring premise that continually repeats the same drudging scenes over and over and again, most of the characters are total strawmen. A majority of the dialogue is obvious and designed to force the plot along. While we certainly agree that many problems can come about from the internet, this film suggests that the internet causes all problems known to man today. Thus, many issues are portrayed incorrectly, as if sin is only available in the digital age and as if these characters had no pre-existing issues before they ventured onto social media. Besides this, no depth or meaning is conveyed—struggles cannot be appreciated not only because they are out of touch with reality, but also because the characters are not believable. In the end, there was little justification for this plot being written.
Acting Quality (1 point)
While this acting is sometimes okay, the cast is overshadowed by one cast member that has a loud, ridiculous, and obviously fake French accent. Elsewhere, emotions are stiff and line delivery is sometimes strained. Though not all is bad, it’s certainly not all good.
We sincerely believe that Kevan Otto means well, but his delivery is often misguided. Non-plots like Online are unfortunately laughable because they are based on flimsy concepts that suggest that sin is worse now than it has been in the past. The characters therein are also so shallow that they can’t be understood. Also, no story has any chance when it consists of a series of scenes that repeat cyclically. Furthermore, when casting, it’s best not to have such a glaring error as a fictitious accent that draws so much attention to itself. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done for this mess.
Following the tragic death of her husband, Ilene Connors struggles to maintain her current financial situation and to keep her delinquent teenage son, Jackson, under control. At the end of her rope, she agrees with her father’s plan to take Jackson to his remote cabin in the woods in order to teach him some tough life lessons. Resistant and frustrated, Jackson suddenly finds himself liking the structured atmosphere. However, he forced to face what he truly believe in when his grandfather’s medical problems leave Jackson having to man up and make some tough decisions.
Production Quality (0 points)
Unfortunately, we have really nothing positive to say about this film. We tried to find something, and we sort of did, but it does not pertain to production. The camera work is very cheap, showcasing poor angles and a general camcorder feel. The video quality is grainy and the sound quality is spotty, especially in the outdoor scenes. The sets and locations are extremely limited. The props are cheesy and the editing looks like it was done on a cheap computer program. There is really nothing good to say here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
Now for the movie’s only positive factor: it clearly presents the gospel message to anyone who happened to be forced to watch the remainder of the film. That’s all we could find. The plot is extremely simplistic and very linear. If this was meant to be a simple gospel presentation, then the characters should have been fleshed out and it should have been marketed that way, not as a direct to DVD movie. The dialogue is pretty good when it comes to sharing the gospel, but otherwise, it’s high school grade. The few characters that are in the plot are stereotypical. Events that take place in the plot are not even believable, such as the survival and outdoors parts. The grandfather has an undisclosed heart condition that is magically healed every time he pops a pill. Otherwise, the one hour run time is filled with useless filler, like cleaning out a barn and talking on the phone. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can top the end of the film. It is painfully obvious that either someone made a huge editing blunder or the money simply ran out, since the movie cuts off in the middle of someone’s dialogue. You have to see it for yourself to believe it.
Acting Quality (0 points)
Mike Rosenbaum is obviously older than the Jackson character he plays, which adds a whole new element to this movie. While it is noble of Natalie Grant to attempt to act while pregnant in real life, it doesn’t really work. Overall, the cast is not coached at all. So many times, we see actors and actresses thrown out on the set with no help, and Decision is one of those instances.
Every day we ask ourselves why movies like this are made. The clear gospel message should have been lifted from this movie idea and inserted into another more worthwhile plot that someone can actually appreciate. After watching Decision, you get the feeling that Christian movies have reached new lows. Christian film-makers are not meant to simply churn out cheap productions for the sake of making them. We strongly believe that God expects Christians to try their best in every area of life—including creating movies. Decision does not meet these standards.