Film Review: Finding Normal — 2 stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBJajC-crsQ

ONE WORD REVIEW: Sappy

SUMMARY: A big city doctor is required to perform community service in the small country town of Normal… and of course, she’ll fall in love and stay.

DETAILS: Big city doctor Lisa Leland (Candace Cameron Bure) is caught speeding through a small country town of Normal on her way to meet her boyfriend in the Hamptons. Due to her abundance of unpaid parking tickets she is arrested and ushered before the small town’s Judge/Doctor/Pastor (Lou Beatty, Jr.) for a hearing. She has no cash to pay her fines, they don’t take credit, so the only option is community service where she must take care of the town’s patients. Along the way we learn that the Judge has been praying for a replacement doctor and he hopes Lisa will be the one… and of course there’s a handsome single man in town (Trevor St. John) that catches her eye and eventually her heart. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because it is. In 1991 Michael J. Fox made this film (though not the “christian” version) which was called Doc Hollywood. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Doc Hollywood, but I definitely remember liking it more than I liked this film. There were plenty of good moments in Finding Normal (I liked Lou Beatty’s character), and it’s not “too Christian” for a broad audience, but in the end I just couldn’t get over it’s sappiness. To me it ended up being a lower quality, sap-filled, “Christian ripoff” of a big Hollywood film… but like I said, it has it’s moments, so you might want to check it out… especially if you’re not familiar with the Michael J. Fox version of the story.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 2.0 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2013
RATING: NR

Beyond the Farthest Star — 3.5 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Complicated
SUMMARY: A family and their hidden secrets shake up a small Texas town.

DETAILS: Complicated…. This is probably one of the best “Christian” films I’ve seen. It’s gut-wrenching honest dealings with issues of hidden pasts, parenting difficulties, and troubled relationships are sure to hinder the profitability in the traditional “Christian Market” for this film, but hopefully it will help it find a much broader audience who are hungry for this style of honest filmmaking. A pastor and his family move to a small town to start afresh. The pastor was once sold as the “next Billy Graham” but something has obviously changed. His daughter is dark and into cutting and burning herself, his wife hides deep secrets of their past, and his story is about to thrust into the national spotlight due to a civil liberties case. The denouement of this film is way too long, but almost necessary to unravel all the threads that make up this complicated, yet compelling storyline. Look for it next Spring in select theatres. My good friend (and editor of two of my own films) James Burgess did the editing on this film and it’s definitely worth a watch.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5

RELEASE: 2013 – Not Yet Released
RATING: PG-13

God’s Not Dead — 1 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Ugh…
SUMMARY: Another “Christian Film” to help Christians feel better about being Christians 
DETAILS: Ugh… I don’t even know where to start. How many unconnected characters can we jam into one movie? Lots. Will everyone come to Jesus? Of course! Can we kill off our main antagonist? Yes, but not before he accepts Jesus as his Savior. Can we turn “witnessing to our friends” (via text message) into blatant self-promotion of the film? Yes! Can we tack on Christian Celebrity in a totally meaningless fashion that is in no-way connected to the storyline? Absolutely. I would like to continue this rant, but I feel the need to go vomit! It’s film’s like this that make me never want to be connected to the Christian Film Industry and why I refer to myself as a follower of Christ who happens to be a filmmaker and not a “Christian Filmmaker”.

SCORE: 1 Star out of 5

RELEASE: 2014
RATING: PG