Tulsa [2020] (Movie Review)

Tulsa (2020)

Plot Summary

Tommy is a troubled ex-Marine with several substance abuse problems, but now, Tulsa, a girl in the foster care system, is claiming that Tommy’s her father. Thus, Tulsa’s social worker decides to go against her superior’s advice and forces Tommy to take Tulsa on a trial basis. Tulsa wastes no time trying to reform her alleged father so that he’s ready for the home visit. Will Tommy be able to turn around his life before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

The beginning of this 2020 production is rough, including shaky camera work and inconsistent audio quality. The video is consistently clear, but the lighting tends to go back and forth. While the soundtrack is interesting, it sometimes is shocking in the way it’s introduced. Editing also leaves something to be desired as it’s choppy and discombobulated. However, there’s enough improvement in the second half of this film to justify an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

It seems like the whole point of Tulsa is to get to a certain point that the writers wanted to get to, but to do so, they move very fast and commit a number of errors. An entire subsection of problems relates to violating reality for the narrative’s sake. For instance, the foster care system is portrayed in unrealistic ways in this movie. Some characters bend rules to make things happen, and there are a lot of seemingly purposeful ethical problems that have to occur for the plot to reach its forced conclusion. Besides these unforced concerns, the story generally meanders without purpose, filled with blank scenes that waste time and add no value. It sometimes seems like things keep going in circles just to fill time, which doesn’t justify a nearly two-hour runtime. The titular character is basically perfect, but her co-lead makes random decisions without logical reasons, and he suddenly changes for no reason. Though unexpected flashbacks suddenly appear in the screenplay’s second half that provide potential for character motive, they’re too little too late. There are not a few unearned dramatic moments, and unexpected things sometimes happen just because the writers’ agenda needs them to take place. Whatever they were trying to convey is lost in translation and poorly communicated, leading to a rushed conclusion that leaves the viewers empty. Hence, Tulsa joins a long line of forgettable Christian films.

Acting Quality (2 points)

For the most part, the acting is actually the strongest aspect of this movie. Despite some portions being unsure, other parts are fine. Line delivery and emotional performances are mostly believable and on point. However, it’s not enough to lift Tulsa from the basement.

Conclusion

It’s 2020, and low quality Christian entertainment continues to be a mainstay in the field. We’re long past the days where generic inspirational movies with passable productions and casting can be the market standard. It’s time for the next generation of film makers to turn the arena on its ear by doing something different. When the right people allow God to correctly apply their talents, things will finally begin to change.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

The Pledge {Doughboy} [2011] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When Tory’s parents decide that they are going to move from bustling New York City to podunk West Virginia, he is angry that they are taking him away from all he knows.  Once in West Virginia, he can’t find anything to do, so he accidentally gets into trouble by vandalizing a war memorial.  As punishment, the judge sentences him to community service at a veteran’s home, even though his parents are anti-war.  Tory hates the work at first but soon finds that he can find meaning and make a different no matter what.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Much like A Christmas Tree Miracle, The Pledge has a random commitment to quality production—sometimes it has it while other times it does not.  For example, the audio quality is sometimes good but sometimes quite poor.  The soundtrack is average but camera work and video quality are fine.  Sets and locations are also on par.  However, there is too much reused footage and the editing is generally all over the place.  In the end, it all comes out as average, but we have to wonder what this team is trying for.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Also like its Christmas counterpart, The Pledge wavers between being very meaningful and being very satirical.  One moment the dialogue is dripping with obvious tongue-in-cheek sarcasm while another moment we are being shown the realities of post-combat trauma.  We have no idea what the writers were going for here, but they had a lot of good ideas that were unfavorably mixed with unusual comedy.  There is plenty of plot content to work with here, as well as a lot of interesting characters, but we don’t get to know them very well as too much dialogue is pedestrian.  There are tons of opportunities for deeper development here that are not tapped into.  In the end, we feel that this film could have been far better than this and are disappointed that it didn’t go all the way.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While too many cast members are quite dry and boring and others outright smart alec or borderline crazy, they do tend to get better throughout the film.  Emotions range from being flat to believable.  Line delivery is also inconsistent.  When all is said and done, the acting comes out as average.

Conclusion

The Route 40\Flyover Films team is extremely hard to figure.  In their two films, they demonstrated great plot potential but also showed a lot of disingenuous sarcasm.  What exactly are they going for?  We may never truly know.  All we know is that The Pledge had potential, but it was never brought out.  While there is some meaning to be gleaned here and some parts are enjoyable, we just don’t know what to make of it all.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

A Christmas Tree Miracle {Random Acts of Christmas} (Movie Review)

How'd I get stuck with this guy?
How’d I get stuck with this guy?

Plot Summary

When well-to-do David George is laid off from his job right before Christmas, he and his wife agree not to tell their three children until after Christmas to see if he can find a new job.  But as his job search becomes more and more fruitless and the money begins to run out, the George family begins to find themselves running out of options.  Confused and frustrated, they are forced to vacate their house and seek shelter elsewhere.  Though they are at the end of the rope, little do they know that things are about to turn around for them.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Everything about A Christmas Tree Miracle is a mixed bag.  While the video quality is sometimes blurry and outside scenes are not shot very well, the camera work is mostly okay.  Audio quality is good, but the obligatory Christmas soundtrack is wearing.  There are actually quite a few sets and locations used, but some of the outside ones seem fake.  Finally, the editing is just okay yet falls short of what it could be.  There seem to be too many useless scenes and the first half of the plot is spoiled before it even begins.  In all, this is an average production effort that should have been better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Essentially the Christmas version of Stand Strong, A Christmas Tree Miracle sports a surprisingly complex plot, even though it has many bizarre undertones and random twists and turns.  For example, sometimes things happen just because they need to happen.  One of the main characters is a creepy and schizotypal Santa Claus figure.  Though some plot occurrences are believable, others are just too far outside of reality.  If the writers wanted this movie to be meaningful, why does it have such strange elements?  The storyline oscillates back and forth between potentially interesting and laughable.  Elsewhere, there is too much annoying narration throughout.  Though the characters have some basis of believability, they seem unfinished and at times cartoonish.  Overall, there is just a general feel to this movie that you can’t really put your finger on.  It almost makes you want to like it, but it’s just too silly to be good.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Like other parts of the movie, the acting is sometimes tolerable while other times it is smart alec and over the top.  Some cast members come off as trying to make fun of the film.  Others are more professional.  Emotions are inconsistent but line delivery is mostly on par.  Basically, just another average effort.

Conclusion

A Christmas Tree Miracle is one of those odd movies that seems better than its rating.  Yet we cannot in good faith rate it any higher when it has so many goofy elements and logical inconsistencies.  The idea is interesting and might even be worth a remake.  The creators seem semi-genuine in what they are doing and produced a good amount of content to back it up.  However, this film just isn’t up to par with what it should be.  They should have spent less time on quasi-fantastical ideas and more time trying to bring this story into the real world.  But perhaps they have better things in store for the future.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points