Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 44 min.
Our Advisories: Violence 5 ;Language 3 ; Sex/Nudity 2.
Our star rating (1-5): 2.5
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
Romans 12:1-2 (J.B. Phillips)
Writer/ director Brad J. Silverman’s faith-based film, boasting better production values than most such productions, is about love, but it is the love that holds families together even when their deeply held opposing opinions threaten to tear them apart.
18 year-old Grace Trey (A J Michalka) sings with her music minister father Johnny (James Denton) in their Birmingham, Alabama church band, where they clash over the way she sings her lines. She longs to slip from her father’s controlling presence and sing in her own style, which includes secular as well as church music.
When she gets the chance, she goes behind his back, recording a demo of the song that he had written when he had been a one-hit rock singer before his conversion to Christ. When it is well received by her father’s old manager Frank “Mossy” Mostin (Kevin Pollak) at a Los Angeles record company, she runs away from home, placing herself in the hands of the record company’s stylists who cosmetize her appearance. The question, of course, arises: what will they and Frank do to her values and goals?
Johnny comes after her, but can only use persuasion to woo her back because she is of age. How she barely escapes being led astray by the shallow values of those she meets in the City of Angels makes for an uplifting story. The film does share the weakness of most faith-based films in that there is little subtlety to the way in which its evangelical message is proclaimed. Still, the film is entertaining, with the acting, singing, and songs first rate, and one scene between father and daughter especially touching in the way they express their love by strummi ng back and forth on their guitars a few bars from the hymn “It Is Well.”
Also, to the film’s credit, it does not demonize the record people, but does show that some of them are too bound to the success ethic. The record company’s star Renae Taylor (Kelly Thiebaud), whom Grace had looked up to back in Birmingham, tells her “Your body is the biggest asset you have. It’s your currency. Sometimes you have to spend it.” Renae is probably not astute enough to see that this kind of spending leads to spiritual bankruptcy, but will Grace realize that her father is a better advisor than her idol?
Those who watch this film might well come to a better understanding of any differences between the generations, as well as appreciating both the human and divine love that hold a family together. On the other hand, the ending that suggests you can have your cake and eat it to might be a bit too pat for viewers used to more sophisticated film fare.
A set of discussion questions come with the review in the March issue of Visual Parables. Go to The Store to see the Contents Page and how to subscribe.