Monday, October 27, 2014

Movie Write-Up: Grace Unplugged

I watched a Christian movie a few days ago: Grace Unplugged, which came out in 2013.  Although the movie is Christian, Lionsgate Films and Roadside Attractions released it, and they release a lot of secular movies.

The movie is about an 18-year-old girl named Grace Trey, whose father, Johnny Trey, used to be a rock star.  Johnny was known as a one-hit wonder, and he left the secular music industry when he became a born-again Christian.  Now, he and his daughter perform at their church, and also at other churches.  The two of them clash quite a bit.

When Johnny’s former agent, Frank “Mossy” Martin, comes into town and tells Johnny that his one hit is becoming famous again, Mossy invites Johnny back into the secular music industry.  Johnny declines Mossy’s offer, but Grace runs away from home, meets with Mossy, and becomes a success in her own right by performing her father’s hit.  Her father tells her that she is not ready for the secular music business, and she struggles to define the role of faith in her life.  She bumps into a nice Christian intern, Quentin, who befriends her and encourages her to make the Christian faith her own.  After Grace experiences a few professional bumps, Mossy tells her that she will be making her own album with songs that others have written for her.  When she objects that one of the songs depicts a one-night stand and goes against her values, she leaves the secular music industry and goes back home.  She remains a professional musician, however, along with her father.

The movie was not earthshakingly good, but is was all right to watch.  It shows how hard it is in certain settings to stand by one’s values, especially when they are unconventional.  In once scene, Grace and some higher-ups in the secular music industry are toasting with champagne, and Grace drinks it to fit in with the crowd.  I myself have no religious objections to drinking, but I do not drink because I am a recovering alcoholic, and I wonder what I would have done in Gracie’s situation: would I go along with the crowd, or would I just not drink from the glass while not being obvious about it?  I have to respect the Hollywood celebrities—-and there are many—-who are in Alcoholics Anonymous and may have to find ways to be social and fit in at drinking functions, without actually drinking.

Some of the actors in Grace Unplugged were familiar to me.  James Denton played Johnny Trey, and I know James Denton as Mike Delfino on Desperate Housewives.  I always liked Mike.  And I learned that Quentin was played by Michael Welch, who has been in some of the Twilight movies, but whom I know from the series Joan of Arcadia.  He played Joan’s nerdy little brother, who brought a scientific dimension to the show, and who also made a good point that there is a distinction between facts and the interpretation of them.

I read Christianity Today‘s negative review of the movie, and I have two thoughts about that.  First, the review tells about a host of a screening of the movie who scolded evangelicals for going to see The Hunger Games rather than Grace Unplugged, pleading with them to go in masses to the opening night of the latter movie.  I really did not like this, for a variety of reasons.  I get sick of evangelical leaders bossing around other evangelicals as if they’re children, or pressuring them to see a movie they may not want to see just because they are supposed to root for Team Evangelical.  While my opinion of Grace Unplugged was not as low that that of Christianity Today‘s review, I still laud Christianity Today for not being afraid to question Team Evangelical!

Second, I liked what the Christianity Today review said about the music manager in the movie, Frank “Mossy”: “Kevin Pollak sidesteps the film’s biggest potential landmine by making Frank a grown up, rather than a predator.”  I actually appreciated that, myself.  Mossy was not a Christian, and he did not share some of Grace’s values, but he was a good and a dependable agent, who knew how the secular music game was played.

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