Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grace Unplugged (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the faith based film "Grace Unplugged" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer!



If God is the ultimate creative force, why do the people that follow Him seem to make movies so bland?
“Grace Unplugged” follows a young Christian woman who chases her musical dream from the worship team at her church to a rock and roll contract in Los Angeles, and what happens when her morals and faith are put in question. It’s also a movie about a father who doesn’t realize that in trying to protect his baby girl, he might ultimately be pushing her away. So will Grace find her way back to the Lord, or will she chase her ultimate dream and produce a hit record in the music biz? Speaking of records, I know I sound like a broken one when it comes to reviewing “faith based films”, and how they consistently put message over quality, but though not great, “Grace Unplugged” might just be one of the better ones.
I mean there really is some good stuff here. I appreciated the themes of faith, doubt, and challenge, and even more so that even though these messages were explicitly Christian that they weren’t as preachy as some similar movies in the past. Plus they cast Kevin Pollack! Pollack plays an old family friend who is trying to make a name for himself as a producer and is Grace’s in to the world of mainstream music success. And honestly I thought he was really good in this. I also have to give props to AJ Michalka’s singing chops, seriously, girl’s got a killer voice. But the best thing for me had to be the detail in the portrayal of Christian subculture. I know it’s kind of a funny thing to bring out, and many wouldn’t notice, but as a preacher’s kid I thought it was hilarious to see posters on the wall for bands like “Underoath” and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster” along with the more obvious “Switchfoot’s” and “Toby Macs”. As well as the fact the the worship music and presentation here felt very much like most modern churches do on Sunday mornings across America. I don’t know, for me, it was nice to see those little details, as opposed to the way I usually see Christian culture portrayed in film. And yet even with the details right, this movie still never quite feels real.
And I think it all just comes down to overall production. The acting (aside from Pollack) is stale and non-compelling and the way the scenes are edited just feels completely paint by numbers. There is no ingenuity, no clever camera work, really nothing at all that would make the movie visually interesting. And the worst thing for me was the overpowering and melo-dramatic score that would come in anytime the movie wanted you to feel something. There’s this beautiful scene between father and daughter where they are playing a powerful hymn together with just their guitars, and just as I’m starting to actually find emotion the piano and strings butt in and completely ruin the mood. Sometimes you have to let the emotion speak for itself!
All in all “Grace Unplugged” is a pretty typical faith based film with an important message told in the most bland way possible. Despite a good performance from Kevin Pollack and a nod to the details of Christian sub-culture it still stretches to reach a C+
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