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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Well Done!

10/10
Author: JBFur from United States
28 December 2006

It was great to see a movie that works through difficult life issues Raising a teenager as a single parent, getting fired from your job, going into a settled community and bucking the trends are things we all have to face. The scenes cut back and forth frequently to cover several of the characters and to weave the story line into a flow that was quick enough to get to the points across that were being made. Crystal Barnard did a terrific job and really got into the role effectively. Even though the story was not about Crystal and Shockely you can easily see where it could lead this way and that felt good to me. This was a nice touch.

The use of a female minister in this type of role was well done and should be well received. She is the "new breed" and breathes new life into a community that was in a rut---like so many of ours are today. Her message appealed and should be embraced by all levels of audience. The good in people comes from the grass roots and this movie was able to bring this out effectively.

I saw the movie twice and was not disappointed either time. Crystal faces several very challenging issues and through her positive outlook and faith she was able to connect with a community to bring them to a higher and better place. This was done without getting too corny---the director was very good about keeping the tone "modern" but kept the message on track. Good job all around.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Welcome to Paradise

10/10
Author: Natalie Costa from United States
21 November 2006

As a mother of a 13 year old child, I find that there is a serious lack of family oriented films available to us. For years, we've been reduced to watching animated films, films with talking animals, and now that my daughter is older, we find formula films about teenagers that our children can't relate to, nor do we want them to relate to. "Welcome to Paradise" fills that void. Last night after the screening, my daughter talked for hours about the plight of 'Frances and Trevor' (two homeless characters from the film). She was very moved by their situation, and was touched in a very good way by the movie.

Brent Huff is a fabulous director whose family - "feel good" - faith based message is wonderfully presented - and long over-due.

I sincerely hope that Out of Pocket films continues in this genre as the need for quality family films with a real message is very real. See this film. Demand more of this kind!

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Warm, sensitive family film recommended by The Religion Network

8/10
Author: Lisa_TheReligionNetwork from United States
17 October 2007

"Welcome to Paradise" is a family film that, while long on values, spreads the Good News through kindness between people versus sermonizing on celluoid.

As a matter of fact, "Paradise" directly takes on those religious types to whom the Bible refers to a "stiff- necked people." Associate Pastor Debbie Laramie ("Wings" star Crystal Bernard) is in trouble at the top of the film for being too folksy in the pulpit. Her rigid male superiors exile her and her teenage son (well-played by Bobby Edner) to the small town of Paradise, which as it turns out, isn't. Just like in the big city, there are brittle, agenda-driven people in the small town. But without missing a beat, the new pastor jumps into the fray.

Bernard's Laramie is breezy and warm, and she does the Lord's work by being her open self, bringing people together one at a time. Bernard skillfully anchors the role with honesty. She carries the film on her feminine shoulders, making it look effortless.

The cast is studded with sure-handed veterans, led by film and stage luminary Brian Dennehy, who lends deep credibility to a film just by walking in front of the camera. It seems he never fumbles a beat as an actor. Ever.

Writer Shockley, who deftly pulls double duty playing the high school basketball coach, is a welcome masculine counterpart for Bernard. Though the film thankfully avoids making this an obvious love story, the chemistry between the two creates agreeable sparks.

"Paradise" ambitiously fleshes out a number of smaller roles with their own subplots, and enhances its own theme by creating an ensemble film. Lou Beatty, Jr. shimmers as the homeless Trevor Goodman and his singing throbs with contemplative power. Likewise, Beth Grant as the pivotal Frances Loren is believable and touching. Her character creates the havoc that eventually brings the town together. It's an inspirational finale that brings a lump to the throat and resolve to the heart.

There are a few snags in the story: for example, it stretches credulity that Laramie wouldn't know her son is dyslexic. She's presented as a character that's been busy, not selfishly blind; and some situations are hopelessly "on the nose." Luckily, the film unfolds briskly with a purpose that refuses to be derailed. Locations are attractive; the music enhances the story; the look of the film is rich.

There's a sense that "Paradise" is the real deal: a film about genuine caring between humans, made by quality professionals who truly care about humanity.

The Dove Foundation gave "Welcome to Paradise" a Four Dove Rating. The Religion Network seconds that!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

What Can I Say?

5/10
Author: tristeange from United States
16 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To preface, this is a for-the-most-part wholesome, family-type movie. It puts forth some good values and topics for family conversation: respect for everyone, flexibility, Christian love, worth of all people, the plight of the homeless, and the materialism of the modern Church. I heard "butt" a few times ...which is completely out of place in a Christian movie.

The acting was okay...some better than others. I found the plot a little boring and hackneyed. It's the same story and topics that you've seen on every family show from Little House on the Prairie to Touched by an Angel. Here, the bad, bigoted, formal, legalistic Christians (who really aren't very Christian) have to be awakened to the "real" meaning of Christian love by Debbie a non-traditional female minister. The main male ministers portrayed in the show tend to be materialistic, ambitious and egotistical while Debbie is seen as a loving friend to the homeless, minorities, etc.

Some of her parishioners scoff at having a woman minister, yet there is no place in the movie where anyone intelligently brings up the Apostle Paul or the Biblical reasons why some churches reject women ministers. The preference for male ministers is just seen as provincial (i.e. red neck) ignorance, chauvinism or traditionalism. There is no discussion about how churches interpret the Bible differently, and how they place different weight on Biblical texts. Debbie quotes the Bible to chastise her congregation about their attitude toward a minority musician, but she doesn't quote verses that would conflict with her role as ordained minister, widow, or that as a woman she should cultivate a "gentle and quiet" spirit.

The movie does show that the widowed Debbie has been negligent in her role as mother to her son. The son has talents and problems that Debbie does not even know about. It's the teachers at the boy's public school that find out about these. When the son is brought home by a male basketball coach from school, Debbie does not even question who the strange older man (she doesn't know he's the coach) is and why her son is in the car with him.

All in all, I would not worry about my family seeing this movie, but I do feel that it panders a little toward the popular "right-brained" informal, touchy-feely, emotional Christianity and neglects less popular but important topics such as Biblical scholarship and theology. Dealing with the fact that even churches have bills to pay and need money isn't popular or fun. But it has to be done.

There was also a few "holes" in the story: one place is where a homeless woman has to spend the night in the rain on the church porch. I come from a much smaller home-church than "Paradise" and even we had funds set aside for people in emergency situations who needed housing or food. Also, this same homeless character supposedly lost her house due to medical bills after her ill husband's death. Under bankruptcy laws and homestead exemption, the woman should have been able to at least keep her house. My husband, a CPA, caught this...yet these holes are minor and keep the plot going and get sympathy for the character.

Anyway, I don't think there is anything that most Christian families would really worry about in this movie, provided there was some discussion afterwards.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Eye Opener

10/10
Author: from United States
31 August 2008

Not an attack on churches in small towns or big cities - but a wake up call to what "church" is really about. Not the building or the bank account, but the "body" rooted in love and forgiveness.

Good character and plot development in the storyline. Tugs at your heart and opens your eyes.

Obviously edited for television with fade-to-black every so often (reserved for commercial breaks). Clean, only one or two incidences of mild language, no sex, no violence other than a brief instance of teenage bullying. Good family film for preteens and older. Musical score is inspirational but subtle and not overpowering. Good casting.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

This movie has heart!

Author: iveseenemall from United States
26 January 2007

This movie was very good, and people of all ages will enjoy it, I think. Very few filmmakers tackle such topics as homelessness and accepting people, regardless of gender, race, age, etc. But this one does, and it does it without being preachy or boring.

Crystal Bernard was great in this role. But the character (Bobby Edner from one of the Spy Kids movies) who plays Hayden was a real stand-out, too. I thought he added depth as her confused teenage son trying to cope with his father's death and his mother's profession as a pastor -- and all that comes with being a pastor's child when it's tough enough growing up in a "normal" family.

I don't think it is in theaters until the summer, but it's playing at the American Family Film Festival (www.iffilmfest.org) in LA in February. I saw it at a screening recently and highly recommend it!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

If I had an extra set of thumbs, I would give it 4 thumbs up

10/10
Author: Robert 'Bobby' Rouge from United States
21 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Thank God, someone can make a Christian movie that does not scripture whip us into conformity.

This story is not just about a female minister who is victimized by church bureaucracy and politics, it is a story about the homeless also.

Another attribute that is depicted, is the small town community spirit of togetherness. (I'm trying not to post spoilers)

Thank you Jesus, (he posts too)for provisions from Yahoo Corporation, for the financing of this movie. Expl:The producer of the film is a former executive of Yahoo Corporation.

According to the producer, it is not due to be released until June,2007

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A home run!

10/10
Author: bryce-46 from United States
28 February 2007

Writer and director Brent Huff hit a home run with his movie "Welcome To Paradise."

Starring Crystal Bernard, Brian Dennehy, Beth Grant, William Shockley and Bobby Edner, this family movie will have viewers crying and laughing as well as leaving the theater feeling good. I enjoy leaving a movie theater inspired and focused on the good in mankind.

Don't miss the chance to take your children to this show.

"Welcome To Paradise" would make an excellent Hallmark TV movie. I highly recommend it to everyone, kids and adults.

Bryce Yarborough

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This movie had a great message, with a great actress!!

9/10
Author: tj from Las Vegas, NV
23 November 2007

Crystal sure shined in this movie -- and Jesus shined as well! It's hard to imagine this movie without all the scripture and all the love put into it. My wife and I just watched it, and it was great!! I only thought the story line was just a little holey (had some empty spaces) but it was wholly great!! Holy homonyms, batman!!

I also thought the locations and music really matched the movie. Hearing the Mike Curb singers was a nostalgia trip, but they really updated their sound. I've been to Tennessee and Dallas, and recognized a few spots. I really liked the barn.

Anyway, please rent this movie, please buy this movie, because if you ever have a cold night and need some hope, some faith, and some Crystal, check this out.

Thanks so much for everyone who made this movie possible!

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A home run!

10/10
Author: bryce-46 from United States
28 February 2007

Writer and director Brent Huff hit a home run with his movie "Welcome To Paradise."

Starring Crystal Bernard, Brian Dennehy, Beth Grant, William Shockley and Bobby Edner, this family movie will have viewers crying and laughing as well as leaving the theater feeling good. I enjoy leaving a movie theater inspired and focused on the good in mankind.

Don't miss the chance to take your children to this show.

"Welcome To Paradise" would make an excellent Hallmark TV movie. I highly recommend it to everyone, kids and adults.

Bryce Yarborough

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