Movies

Loving the Bad Man: A DVD Review

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An East Lake Film

Before Christmas arrived, in addition to wanting to watch something with the wife, I also wanted watch a Christian based title. While at Family Video, I saw there were a few Christian titles made available recently, which I can’t help but think is really cool by the way, and one title which I couldn’t resist renting was Loving the Bad Man. I saw an ad for this on Christian Cinema not too long ago, and I also remembered that Stephen Baldwin was on the cover so I was like “hmmmm wonder what’ll be about…?”

Loving the Bad man, concerns two different people. One is a upstanding, Christian girl who tries to be good to everyone and loves the Lord even more. Another is a not-so-wholesome man with a criminal history, that isn’t happy with where he is currently situated in life. The unwholesome character runs into the Christian girl, because she is in need of some help with her flat tire. However in a drunken rage, he rapes her after completing the job…. The dude is thrown into prison while the Christian is struggling with the fact she is now pregnant. Will this prisoner realize the evil he has committed, and how will this Christian girl respond to this very difficult life circumstance?

This is a very controversial film for both Christians and unbelievers a like. I definitely feel this is a film which should be viewed primarily by Christians, simply because there are some ideas within this film which unbelievers are not going to understand or appreciate. However, what is addressed is something which some Christians might also struggle with as well like how Julie responds to her rapist. At times I almost feel the movie is unrealistic, to an extent, in certain scenes where both Julie and her rapist make some diffcult decisions way too quickly; no I am not referring to Julie’s decision to keep the baby. Overall it’s a decent film, it could have been better at times, but it could have been a lot worse too…

Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Homeless for the Holidays: A DVD Review

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A Bridgestone Film

Believe it or not, I remember watching this on TV once locally. It was a couple of years ago I was watching one of my local television channels when I saw this unusual obscure title on the programming list. I was reminded of Homeless for the Holidays years later while looking around online for Christian Christmas films. When I was reminded of this, I had to ask myself: “why didn’t I like this again?”

Homeless for the Holidays is an independent film about a wealthy marketing director who gets fired from his job, due to a wrongfully accused situation he is pinned upon. Jack Baker with his reputation now ruined cannot find ANY job, until he pushes his way into a minimum wage fast food job. The idea of dressing up as a penguin is embarrassing enough, but things get real tough and discouraging when his power gets shut off and the bank is ready to foreclose on his house if some serious cash doesn’t fall into his hands. Will his family really be homeless for this Holiday? What will Jack and his family learn? And will he ever get his job back with his reputation restored? Homeless for the Holidays had a good premise, especially because this was said to be based off of a true story. I liked the fact the movie was discouraging Christmas to be about material things, and instead was promoting something worth while like family. In fact, one might argue this might be a modern-day parable of The Book of Job.

However, overall I’m not much of a fan of this film. My first complaint is Jack Baker’s personality. I get the idea you’re supposed to not like Jack at the beginning of the film, because he is egotistical and obsessed with his job, but I just didn’t like much of his personality throughout the entire film even when he was being humbled. Of course maybe part of this feeling comes from the fact the acting was terrible. Most of the people in this movie unfortunately sound like they’re either over acting, inauthentic, or just down right cheesy. Speaking of cheesy, certain story elements I strongly felt were quite cheesy like when Jack’s first dawning the Penguin suit and especially the ending itself when things just get resolved perfectly as though the accusation was never even made. Not planning to buy this movie, but if a friend gave me a choice of whether to watch Homeless for the Holidays or a Holiday Fluff film like Adventures of Bailey: Christmas Hero I would much-much rather watch Homeless for the Holidays.

Movie Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

The Perfect Gift: A DVD Review

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A Kelly’s Filmworks movie

A while ago, when I still had Cable, I watched The Perfect Gift on JCTV. I remember when I first saw it I really liked it, but I never got around to purchasing it. Years later, when trying to think up some good Christian Christmas movies for my upcoming movie night, this was one of the first thoughts of which I was reminded. However, I didn’t completely remember why I had enjoyed watching Jefferson Moore’s The Perfect Gift so I had to re watch it again in order to properly write this review.

The Perfect Gift contains multiple stories, which all revolve around a drifter named Jes. Maxine is a spoiled rotten girl who is forced to make some new adjustments with Dad and his money no longer being in the picture. Maxine’s mother also has a burden forced upon her, but this mom’s trouble involves planning a politically correct celebration called “The Winter Gala”. Tony is an over burdened, Assistant Pastor who is in the process of setting up a Nativity Scene outside of the church; he also wishes the church was doing better. Blaine is an Atheist who is the head of an activist organization which claims to promote “religious freedom”. Jes is a drifter who peacefully arrives into town who looks a lot like Jesus Christ, is mysteriously a great carpenter, has a gift of wisdom, and somehow directly and indirectly affects the lives of all of these people and the rest of the town itself. What sort of lessons will everyone learn, and what makes Christmas… well Christmas?

After watching this I remembered why I LOVED The Perfect Gift. This movie is wonderful for many reasons, and certainly puts many Holiday Fluff films out there to great shame! One of my favorite reasons for enjoying this movie was the deep theological messages contained within the film without the actors hammering it into your skull. I was especially enamored with the way the townspeople respond to Blaine; it was awesome!!! Jefferson Moore is great as Jes, because he is able to cultivate a variety of moods appropriately, and I also liked how he passionately talked about Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and what he said to Blaine. In fact most of the actors did very well; Christine Fougnie wasn’t the best at first but got better with each scene. The story is very clever and quite realistic, and this was even funny at times. I am amazed I didn’t buy this sooner or tell people about this any sooner. I very strongly recommend this movie for your collection; especially if you like Christmas movies.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Christmas Miracle: A DVD Review

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A Vivendi Entertainment film

Going grocery shopping one day, I saw some of Wal-Mart’s recently released movies along side the checkout aisle. Some were terrible so I just ignored them completely, especially the Holiday Fluff films which companies claim to be representing the “Christmas” season, but I did see one film of interest: Christmas Miracle which inspired me to take a closer look. I read the description and saw the concept was interesting, and I also enjoyed the fact this was made from the same company who released A Mile in His Shoes and both WWJD movies; for those wondering one had John Schneider the other had John Ratzenberger.

Christmas Miracle concerns a group of strangers who get stranded together due to a snowstorm on Christmas Eve; how they all get stuck is suspenseful indeed. One car contains a father whose marriage is falling apart, one contains a widower who used to be a Pastor, another car has a newlywed couple with a bit of an age difference, another has an upper class couple who have been married for years but fight constantly, and the last vehicle is a former EMT worker. Each set of travelers contain their own set of baggage, and must band together within an old abandoned church in order to survive. What will they learn and experience within the old church? And will they have a good Christmas if even having one at all?

Right off the bat I have to say George Canyon, the actor who plays the EMT, is an excellent singer and I love the songs he sings in this movie. I also felt the events and lines written in Christmas Miracle were well done and for the most part were not unrealistic. The acting was very good, and although this was primarily a drama there were a few funny moments too. The theological messages portrayed throughout and at the end of the film I cannot help but feel are necessary for Christians and non Christians alike to hear; especially non-Christian viewers, because then believers can talk to  unbelievers about it. I recommend this as a good Christian, Christmas movie to add to your Christmas movie viewing pleasure and will tell my friends about it.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Christmas Angel: A DVD Review

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A Pure Flix Film

Lately I’ve been in the Christmas movie mood. In order to plan for a special movie night for my Christian movie group, I’ve been doing some recent research on finding more Christian Christmas movies besides the ones I was aware of thus far. Checking out a lead on Pure Flix’s YouTube Channel, I saw they just came out with the new movie Christmas Angel. The trailer actually looked pretty cute, and since it was also recently released on Netflix I couldn’t wait to test it out before it would arrive at my mailbox.

Christmas Angel is a story about some kids who discover a “magic” house which seems to grant certain wishes after the kids throw rocks at it. More is going on though than meets the eye in this Christmas story. Olivia is a 5th grader who is looking for a great guy to be with her mother, while she is also trying to solve the mystery of the “magic” house. Why is it that some of the kids’ wishes are granted while others are denied? What is the strange blue glow coming from within that “magic” house at night…? Is it really an Angel like Olivia thinks? And what purpose does Dr. Davis have for even owning the rundown building in the first place?

I absolutely loved Christmas Angel. The actress who plays Olivia and the rest of the kids themselves, are very cute and play their roles well. It was also really neat to see the grownup actors apart of the cast, very nicely done I must say to whoever arranged that. I really enjoyed the story itself as well, because it captivates many different moods appropriately while also providing a message that closely relates to the Christmas season.  We need more films like this to be made, and someone ought to get Christmas Angel to be played on national television because a new trend needs to be set with our culture’s “entertainment”. We need to kick out all of the Holiday Fluff which is poisoning the purpose of this time of year. This is definitely a film you can enjoy with the entire family, and I am glad to have added this to my Christian movie collection. I am confident if given the opportunity, those I show this to will also enjoy it as well!

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Heart of Christmas: A DVD Review

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Produced by Image Entertainment

Christmas time is already approaching, I mean you can see it in the TV commercials so it MUST be true! Lol. Anyway, I wrote a blog entry not too long ago about the Three Types of Christmas movies, which I recommend you read when you have the time, and I started thinking about Christmas movies. At one point I even thought: “I should do research and see if there are more Christian Christmas films out there…” One day I went to my local Family Video and saw they had The Heart of Christmas available, and so I had some hopes on this being a really good and hopefully real Christmas film.

The Heart of Christmas, is a story about a busy business mom whose kids and husband don’t feel like they see or spend time with her enough. This mom barely manages to go trick or treat with her kids and when she does, she uncovers a house with Christmas decorations. She asks “why the early decorations?”, and a local hands her a business card and replies: “read this blog and you’ll understand.” So she starts reading the story of a boy named Dax and the painful journey his parents are making for him… The acting was very good from all the cast members, the quality and script were quite original, and the song by Matthew West is awesome! But, what I am about to write might sound heartless to some people and I apologize for that in advance. It is not my intent to be a jerk, however I feel this needs to be said.

The Heart of Christmas is misleading, because this is not a conventional Christmas film like you may imagine when observing the movie’s cover appearance and the title itself. So if you’re hoping for a movie which heavily relates to the Christmas season, and with which you can laugh/enjoy beside the whole family, this isn’t it. No, The Heart of Christmas is a very painful journey through the lives of a group of parents whose child is fighting off cancer.  I get the idea that you’re supposed to see this film and then say to yourself: “Wow… I could have it a whole lot worse. I should be grateful of what I have.” However, I felt it was unnecessary for that to be most of the movie itself, because I can’t imagine this being a film I can watch again and again and again. Basically, no disrespect intended, this movie was designed to be emotional porn meant to make you cry. (I am not misusing that word, look it up.) Though this is a necessary message for some people to hear, because there are a lot of ungrateful people out there and we also have to be realistic in that Christmas isn’t always full of smiles and giggles, it doesn’t really talk about WHY Christmas is even worth celebrating; it just hints Dax “just needs one last happy moment” with his family. I won’t discourage you from watching/purchasing the movie, because there are somethings within the movie I felt are worth seeing especially if you haven’t experienced Cancer for yourself, but I won’t be adding it to my library; I’m sorry if that sounds heartless.

Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

p.s. Please don’t misunderstand my words. I take what they produced very seriously and my heart goes out to all children, especially the children involved apart of that kind of situation. I just can’t watch a movie like this again and again and again, because this will emotionally shock you just as certain horror films are designed to emotionally shock you; hence why I called this ’emotional porn.’ Also keep in mind I would rather watch this than many of the Holiday Fluff films being currently released like Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special.

THE Three Types of Christmas Movies

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It’s one day from Halloween, and I’m writing an entry about Christmas, yes I know I am weird lol. But seriously, I couldn’t help but think about the idea of Christmas movies for a few reasons. One reason is due to the fact I am planning a special Christian Christmas movie night at the end of November; hopefully we’ll have snow by then so we can go tubing. Besides that though, I know very soon companies will start releasing their DVDs, TV Specials, commercials, products, etc for the “holiday season”. Because there are plenty of movies out there which are and have been made for the Christmas time of year, I couldn’t help but think more about them. At one point, I remembered some of my previous blog entries and movie reviews about Christmas, and I also remembered some of the previous Christmas films I’ve watched in the past and have heard other people talk about. And then it hit me. Really when you get past all of the details, there are really only three types of Christmas movies.

Before I get to what the three types are, I’m sure some of you maybe wondering… “Ben why does it matter?” Well it matters, because of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Christmas is supposed to be about many things, but there are somethings which are emphasized which may not necessarily be as important as other details if even important at all. In fact some of these details are reasons why some don’t celebrate Christmas and even hate those who do practice it; or at least hate the time of year… Now this is very important to note, because some of those said people think that’s why people celebrate Christmas, when that isn’t true in actuality and if someone is actually doing it for those grrr-able reasons then they ought to reexamine their life. What are those details to which I am referring? They’ll be addressed as I’m revealing to you THE three Types of Christmas Movies:

1) Secular Christmas Movies. These were the common format for what a Christmas movie was back in the day. (when I say ‘back in the day’ I mean within the 90s and earlier.) I have enjoyed and currently own many of these types of movies. These type of Christmas Movies have to take place around Christmas time; in fact any Christmas movie must. These also emphasize certain ideas within the plot like Family, Peace, Joy, Love, Friendship, and Forgiveness which are very good things. What makes it secular, however, is the fact these movies won’t say much about Jesus; though might give a quick slip of a reference indirectly. Now I’m not saying that’s a completely bad thing, because I don’t expect all movies to talk about Jesus but with Christmas being what it is, all those other themes I mentioned a few sentences ago are secondary themes. Primarily this is done simply to reach out to a broader audience, which I can respect depending on how it’s done of course. I would argue such movies as Trapped in Paradise, All I Want for Christmas, A Muppet Family Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and others are good examples of Secular Christmas movies.

2) Christian Christmas Movies. I know that might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but unfortunately in today’s culture it is not. Now again I am not demonizing Secular Christmas movies, because there are some very good ones out there besides the examples I mentioned a moment ago. However, a good Christian Christmas film will do everything a Secular Christmas movie does, and will also not be afraid to tell people that Jesus is the reason for the season. It is, after all, THE Primary reason we ought to celebrate Christmas in the first place. If someone grrs at that idea, that’s too bad because that is nonnegotiable. I do not expect, nor should every Christmas movie to be a reenactment of the Nativity scene, because that isn’t the only way a movie can talk about Jesus Christ and some of those reenactments are questionable for interpretation anyhow. Sure movies like Christmas With a Capital C , Saint Nicholas, The Perfect Gift, and others are great movies made by Christian based groups, however not every Christian Christmas movie needs to be necessarily made by a Christian company. I mean there are other movies/TV Specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Noel, Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey, and others which are examples of Christian Christmas movies not necessarily made by a Christian based company.

3) Holiday Fluff. I wrote and talked about this a little bit last year, but it needs to be said again. Holiday Fluff in short is a concept which appears very sugary sweet and might even taste good with a quick lick, but when heavily consumed it gives the person a stomach ache and doesn’t satisfy their hunger. Unfortunately, this is the type of “Christmas” movie which is more popular in modern times. These types of movies promote stuff like shopping, decorating, Santa Claus, finding a tree, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, having family over at the house, wrapping presents, Frosty the Snow man, snow, opening presents, and other things/ideas which don’t necessarily need to even be apart of Christmas to make it Christmas. Holiday Fluff are also the types of movies which will absolutely REFUSE to talk about and show anything referring to Jesus Christ, the Nativity, or anything else which is Christian based at all; unless it’s in a negative way. Because of this complete refusal, companies will even go as far as trying to reinvent what it means to celebrate Christmas, and much of what they try to promote are what makes some people grr at the Holiday Season. Honestly, if Christmas was all about what Holiday Fluff tries to paint this time of year to be, I’d be standing right next to the protest sign holding Atheist in support. Despite this, however, there are some likeable Holiday Fluff movies including Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, and A Christmas Story. But then there are others like Gremlins, Die Hard, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Four Christmases, Olive the Other Reindeer, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, Home Alone 4 and others which make me think “How is this Christmas???”