For Your Consideration: SUNDAY SCHOOL MUSICAL (2008)

Last week, we examined what happens when Christians make a movie for Christians. This week, we examine when Christians make a movie for teen Christians and try to be cool about it.

Long ago, roughly 7 years, a group of middle aged white men, got together in a house, probably somewhere far far away from Hollywood, rolled up their short sleeve button down shirts and mused, “What do kids like these days?”

And one of them said, “My daughter likes that Zac Efron punk. Also musicals. With teenagers.”

And with a snap of the fingers, Sunday School Musical became an official thing and this week’s Netflix find.

“Look, if you just tell teenagers that you can’t have “worship” without being “hip” they won’t know. So write it a bunch of times.”

Hey kids – here’s cool kids being cool!

If you’ve seen High School Musical, its kids in high school and they’re singing, but there’s some conflict and color coordinated track suits. Also Zac Efron is worried that people will judge his manliness for wanting to skip around a stage with the girls.

That’s not what happens here.

There’s a choir from a “urban” neighborhood and a choir from a “better” neighborhood. One is by the book and terrible, and the other is really in touch with their funky hip hop selves. Given that this is a movie called Sunday School Musical, start putting your bets on them uniting. Because it will pay off.

“Teenagers like it when you come together. Its in that song from that movie your daughter likes.”

To say this movie was made on a budget is an understatement.  The painfully handscrawled banners and the poor sound design alone…

 

Not to mention this is a regional choir competition, that only had two choirs competing.

 

These actors just realized that their careers have come to a screeching halt.

These kids however…well, they’re on to something.

We have our hero, who’s name I didn’t catch and his choir mate, passing rhymes and catching beats in the squeakiest cleanest way possible. They’re bonded by their love of choir. Nothing will tear that apart.

“Kids, we’re being kicked out of our house and moving to a much nicer neighborhood where you’ll be going somewhere with a lesser choir. Deal with it.”

Despite the fact that the competing choir is at a high school, eliminating the meaning of it being a Sunday School Musical, the adults apparently have no interest in it. Which is why they have a high school girl named Savannah in charge of their music program.

Please note that Savannah’s father has the classic Youth Pastor look. The button down shirt says he’s ready to buckle down and worship, but the frosted hair says, he’s down to jive with God’s awesome word.

What happens when you let the “urban” kid into your choir rehearsal?

Its going to be a boogie breakdown.

He brings in his Justin Timberlakeyness and blows everyone’s minds.

Not every member is onboard with these flashy rock and roll ways.  Like this guy. Who also compares the only “urban” kid in school to Judas.

It happened. Because the filmmakers are “hip”.

With all the care and love that was lavished on the story,  apparently there were some filmmaking details that got left in the dust….

Like this character’s mic pack sticking out of her jeans.

High School Musical wasn’t the only thing that got ripped off.  A Grease moment totally happened here in this high school that only has 8 students in their roster.

I’m concerned about these high schoolers, who have been lying to us this whole time and have been held back and are actually attending an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

The school has repressed his inner rhythm and therefore he goes to the bathroom to do the robot and whatever dance moves the kids do these days.  Not that I know – the filmmakers would, so ask them.  Apparently, they’re really “hip.”

Choirs unite! We’ve been waiting for this moment. Thankfully, its awkward and uncoordinated, complete with bad lip synching.

Its time for the big “States” competition. Do we know which states? Why not national?

Here are the judges – hardcore choir experts who have been with so many choirs and have so many hardcore stories involving tours, harmonies, host families and church community hot dish (if you’re from the Midwest, you’ll get that.)

And the united choir brought their game AND their blue shirts of varying hues.

Not like the competing choir from a more “urban” area, showing off their red.

Super cool Youth Pastor Dad gives his seal of approval.  They totally rocked this Sunday School.

At that point, the makers of Sunday School Musical patted themselves on the backs and knew, they had reached a generation and they’re teenage children would finally accept them as one of their own.

Stay tuned for when these intrepid filmmakers realize that teenagers like vampires and release Sunday School Twilight. It is going to be so fetch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: Fireproof (2008)

With movies like Noah and God’s Not Dead doing providential things at the box office, industry predictors have called 2014 the year of the Bible movies. That being the case, I thought I’d revisit a tale made by Christians for Christians, a tale so bad that it forgot to ask God to be a good movie.

I give you Fireproof.

If you’ve never seen it much less heard of it, you probably haven’t been to church in the past seven years. The intention behind this movie is nice – helping married couples make it through the long haul. The execution is something else and worthy of mockery.

Never leave your partner behind, we’re told right away – be it in a fire or in a awkward scene that doesn’t know how to end. Just because there’s bad writing all around doesn’t mean you get to be selfish.

The summary is Kirk Cameron plays a fireman (oh, I get it!) married to a nurse and they’re having marital problems. They’re in debt and he likes to look at porn. Not that the movie identifies it as such – its referred to as “You’re looking at stuff on the computer again, aren’t you?” Then again, it could be deals on eBay or that mash up of House of Cards and Game of Thrones. I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

Also his wife’s mother is sick and Kirk wants to buy a boat.

“Where’s my favorite cereal?”
“I forgot to buy it.”
“YOU’RE A MEAN WOMAN!”
-actual dialogue from the movie.

Kirk’s wife is a nurse and is surrounded by sitcom-worthy caricatures….one of them is sassy and makes jokes about food and cute white doctors.

I’m not saying which one.

Speaking of cute doctors….

Since Kirk is all into computer porn and not spending his boat money on her mother, she’s found a kindred spirit in the cute doctor.

Kirk Cameron’s acting face shows a range of emotions. That is, if your range has two settings.

Mild concern….

…and mild annoyance.

Mild concern…

 

…back to mild annoyance.

His wife on the other hand, just lets it all go…

Which is easy to do when you have a supporting cast of female archetypes to surround you. Espescially sassy ones with biting homespun wisdom. I’m not saying which one it is.

Sassy!
The movie posits The Love Dare – where for 30 days you basically outdo your partner in displays of affection. In one of the most on-the-nose scenes I’ve ever seen, Kirk’s father acts as walking plot point of Christian marital theology….

“There’s a cross behind me, right?”

He goes for the love dare…and DARES HER TO LOVE HIM BACK with this passive aggressive card.

The Love Dare doesn’t just stop at you and your significant other. Feel free to rub your happiness in other people’s faces.

 

 

Kirk has a coworker that compares marriage to salt and pepper shakers, which sends this movie into an overdose of metaphor. Is marriage like fighting fires or is it about condiments on the table?

The answer is both.

Marriage is also like pulling cars off train tracks.

In case this movie has gotten too serious for you and you need some comic relief, the movie presents this guy…

He’s dancing in front of a mirror because he’s not cool. But its funny, right?

What the movie doesn’t answer is why there’s no woman who’s willing to love dare him at any time.

Speaking of love dares, Kirk makes a stand against “looking at things on the computer”. So naturally, he takes the computer outside and pulls out a baseball bat. Not sure how he’s going to book his travel or see pictures of what his friends ate for dinner, but the man has priorities.

Mild concern….

…and more mild annoyance.

There’s a happy ending here. Kirk dared his wife to love him, and she accepted the dare. Meanwhile there’s a cute doctor sitting and eating lunch by himself from here on out – because he wouldn’t take the Vaguely Flirting With a Coworker Dare.

Marriage is like PDA at your workplace location.

Our final scene involves a renewing of vows at the exact same place that this whole Love Dare got brought up.  And we’re left with this final shot….

Frankly, it would have made more sense to have a little fireman groom and bride, or even just set the cake on fire, but I’m guessing  props master totally forgot and threw this in at the last minute.  If that’s the case, this movie should have been called Seasoning Proof.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION – C Me Dance (2009)

This little independently and sanctified gem of movie mess was written, directed and stars a visionary by the name of Greg Robbins. Should this name mean nothing to you, you should be aware that Greg is a powerhouse producer who gave us other titles like Praise Band: The Movie and Pastor Greg.  No, I haven’t seen any of these – its just IMDB told me they existed, and frankly, who am I to argue?
Here’s the plot…
Greg (apparently the Ben Affleck of the poorly made Christian film community) plays the father of a teenage girl named Sheree (Sherie? Sheray? No one knows for sure) who loves to dance.  She also finds out that not only does she have leukemia, but she’s able to do Jesus one better and bestows salvation with a simple touch.  Turns out this really curdles Satan’s cheese , so he materializes, but not before Shur-ha takes some network meetings and telepathizes God’s word to an unsuspecting public.  And then she dies.  Greg displays consistent forms of mild concern.
And here’s the oddest moments…

We open with a woman driving a car getting run down by a Mack truck. She doesn’t know why and therefore the plot is none of our business.

The car explodes, but there was a baby in the backseat that survived. So already its like Harry Potter. Except everything is awkward and unremarkable.

So we fast forward to the present where miracle crash baby is now a teenager and practicing ballet in a paneled basement with a weird poop stain on the wall.
Also this is the parents reaction when they hear that Christmas vacation is coming:

Why do they hate Christmas?
Also Sheri-ee is apparently a perfectionist when it comes to her dance. Maybe its because her upper torso and her feet are never shown in the same shot.

She collapses during her unsynchronized dancing and goes in for tests. She’s diagnosed with advanced leukemia. Dad flirts with her doctor. Clearly todays problems are only minor obstacles to tomorrow’s opportunities.

Nothing gets Sharae down. As proof , there’s a montage at the mall with a uplifting Christian song. Kids these days.

Its all an act.

“NO! Just stop loving me!”

Throwing caution to the wind, she goes to dance practice, but there’s a evil force afoot.  Its like Black Swan, but if Natalie Portman looked confused and unsure of where she should be looking or what her symptoms would be if she had advanced leukemia.

Dad’s got a hot date with the doctor.  Thank goodness Scharaeaux has a debilitating disease that’s amping up the romance.

Or not.  Since Dr. Romance states she’s pretty clueless when it comes to diseases, they decide that they won’t date anymore.

They’re in the car on the way to church when she realizes doughy Dad can hear her thoughts. Her eyes are huge.

Then they go home and have the same dream where someone was drowning.  They wake up at 3:16.

Coincidence?

I THINK NOT.

Dad works for a cologne called Lifesaver.  Please note that Pierce Brosnan has been unwittingly roped into the worst named fragrance of all time.
And for no reason whatsoever a modern ballet performance breaks out. I’m sparing you the sound of the abrasive singer who voice breaks in mid note.

Greg’s real life son takes the stage in a dance that symbolizes him questioning whether or not he’s into the opposite sex.

Greg’s real life daughter stands in the background hating everything.

They decide to save one of Scha-rade’s friends. Immediately one of the angels of death from Indiana Jones enters the house.

Touch of the hand. That’s all it takes.

Since the plot is none of our business, a couple of hooligans from school chase her through the town.  She touches them and they become saved.

Then this happens.
The best thing about this movie is that the circumstances and the reactions don’t make any sense whatsoever.

Check out these two.  They may be the same age, but they’re playing mother and son.

Aaaaaaand we’re back to Black Swan.  Her ballet teacher really enjoys walking with her ass sticking out.

Oh, and Satan is following Shure-hay.

Satan shows up in her room.  He’s not as smooth as when he came in the form of Robert Pattinson and settled in Forks. (Twilight jokes never get old)

Sassy pastor to the rescue!

And he is pissed….
“Everyday, the world is going to hell and its really starting to PISS ME OFF!”

Doughy Dad and Sassy Pastor fist bump and I hate everything all over again.

Their solution is have a battle of the bands.  WHY ARE WE NOT DOING THIS MORE OFTEN!??!?! Our problems would have been long gone by now.

This is the band that wins the battle of the bands.  Ten people show up to watch a group of guys that I know do Collective Soul covers when they think no one’s looking. I smell a spin off appearance in Praise Band: The Movie.

Sharay goes up in front of the church congregation and has graduated from touching teenage houligans to just mindmelding with groups of people and making this guy cry.

Her message is getting out there. Crime’s going down and studio executives are shelving their tentpole releases because they might be harmful to families.  However since Transformers 1-3 still exist this just provesMichael Bay is immune to everything.

They immediately get meetings with every network which seem fine with giving Schah-raaaaay their prime time Thursday slot.  We’re not sure if this was following Parks and Recreation or was the lead in to NCIS. Even then, its interesting they’re not touching the time when Breaking Bad is on.

Another dance performance.  Except Satan pops by.

No, Sherie! Your dance teacher might be Satan!

Oh no! There’s a camera crew stuck on the side of your car!

Black Swan just got reeeeeeally interesting.

“You’re such a loser, Satan!”

Sherie…just get out of there. Seriously.  The door’s over there.
 I’m having a hard time wondering who’s lacking the most judgement.

Sherrie just took a ride on a motorcycle from a complete stranger….

Buuuuuut, Satan’s walking down the middle of the street. Just…wandering. So it’s a toss up.

Thankfully, though she gets to the church where her big special is being shot.  Just by this guy.  He doesn’t even need a camera. THAT’S how awesome Shah-ray’s special is going to be.

She’s graduated from touching to telepathy, but has been demoted just to talking.  Perhaps this was a criticism from the executives that greenlit her bumping The Mentalist. No word on what her Nielsen ratings were. 
Fun fact: Sherrie’s biggest fear is men in black trenchcoats. She saw it in a movie once.
Fast forward to….

Doughy Dad and Dr. Broken Hearts are spending Christmas together with third wheel Sher-ray.

She collapses  under the tree.

Despite being a doctor, Broken Hearts abilities are rendered useless so she just freezes and lets it happen.

Doughy Dad apparently went to that school that teaches when someone collapses you should move their spine around and mangle their arms around.

….and we have a title.

All is not lost because Shurray goes on to figure out if she can synchronize her torso and her feet in front of her Mom.

And I’d imagine Satan is still wandering in traffic somewhere….