Reviewed by: John Decker
|Featuring:||AJ Michalka … Gracie Trey
James Denton … Johnny Trey
Kevin Pollak … Frank “Mossy” Mostin
Shawnee Smith … Michelle Trey
Michael Welch … Quentin
Jamie-Grace … Rachel
Emma Catherwood … Kendra Burroughs
Chris Ellis … Pastor Tim Bryant
Rob Steinberg … Larry Reynolds
Kelly Thiebaud … Renae Taylor
Patricia French … Sally Benson
Anthony Reynolds … Quentin’s dad, Rick
Aimee Dunn … Quentin’s Mom, Donna
Pia Toscano … Alyssa
Tiffany Campbell … Shelly
Zane Holtz … Jay Grayson
Lauren E. Roman … Recital Announcer
Mary Shaw … Sharon Bryant
Derrin Stull … Radio DJ
Madison Wolfe … Young Grace
|Director:||Brad J. Silverman|
|Producer:||Coram Deo Studios
|Distributor:||Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions|
“Sometimes, chasing your dreams leads you right to where you belong.”
“Grace Unplugged” meets the bar of higher quality production value that has been happening among Christian film lately. It is a morally clean, professionally produced, heartwarming film with some variety of characters. It proudly overcomes many of the odd obstacles of Christian movies past. It contains a clear Christian message, unabashedly holding up The Lord’s name. It makes priority of family, God-centered worship, and to some extent it attempts to teach us a little about parent—child relationships, though it does more to display common American family difficulties than present solutions.
The premise of this story is not what I would choose to reach a broad audience. I believe that among Christians and non-Christians alike, young and old, the subject of a girl who wants to become a rock-star lacks universal appeal. That’s just my opinion, and I’ll say this—for reasons of quality of story and production value, this film rises far above this conundrum; it delivers a story with plenty of appeal. I will also say that I was predisposed to not believing the best about the film because of the trailer, which I saw a number of times. It gave me the impression that this film was going to be a simplistic, high definition pirouette of an unrealistically narcissistic, self-centered teenage girl (ho-hum). Well, it is not. It is a good story and a great performance. It is moving and has some good meanings to draw from.
On the question of objectionable material—There is one use of the word a**. That is the only profanity I recall. There is no nudity or overt sexuality, but a couple of well masked conversations about a man seeking to take advantage of a woman and a lot of tight clothing in some shots—dancing in a music video, lying on a couch and some cleavage. There is no drug use and no violence. There is a lot of alcohol usage during one part of the story, not graphic drunkenness, just drinking and some bottles lying around, implying alcohol abuse and one scene where the main character gets a little dizzy and out of sorts for the amount of alcohol she has consumed.
(!!Note: The following paragraphs contains a spoiler in some sense, but it also is one of the most important aspects of this review, so I encourage you to take it into consideration before watching this film.) Finally, I do have a criticism about the story line which I believe is important for Christian culture to observe: One vital aspect of what is needed for Christian film to mature is realism. The armchair quarterback (read: movie reviewer) doesn’t have to fight on the battle ground of this realism—he doesn’t have to balance displays of sinful behavior and affections with sensitivity to age and in the broader sense, build a film that does not cause temptation, or display immoral material, and that does not in some way misrepresent reality or offend The Spirit of God.
That said, there is a dangerous precedent in the core narrative of this story which families should prayerfully consider and discuss: Hollywood, Nashville, any location wherein resides the bastion of secular art—powerful hedged-in cultures driven by untold amounts of money and sensual pleasure are not places from which characters easily return. In the “Grace Unplugged” narrative, a character can escape the evils of these modern empires relatively unscathed. As my wife put it, a portion of the film was wrapped in a bow, and when is Christian film not? After-all, who wants to see a hero ravaged, taken advantage of, brought to the point of death itself, when we can perhaps make a point about the dangers of sin and save our hero “too much” heartache? Are these our stories? Did you and I escape the clutches of the evil one smelling like things fair or foul? I know my path was none so pleasant.
For the arts—it is important that we tell a story which adequately portrays the paths in life. If we downplay the monsters, will Christians properly arm themselves? If we soften the faces of evil in the name of making our art more palatable, in a society that partakes so much of art, we may well be teaching falsehoods, providing false expectations and setting a net for the naïve. God forbid it.
Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.