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We attended one of the sneak previews - Thursday night. We loved the
movie. There were two glitches - audio continued while screen was blank
- don't know if that was a problem with the theater or editing that
needs to be finished. Didn't detract from the story line. I gave it 9
stars. I felt that the acting at the beginning was a bit forced,
although everyone settled into their characters pretty easily. Also,
there was a lot of ground (controversial topics) to stuff into 90
minutes. The scene where they pick out clothing for Saturday evening
was cute but the time might have been better used to smooth out other
dialog - make it flow more naturally. Still, I loved it!
There was low attendance at the preview. I blame that on lack of any publicity. I only learned of it while booking online tickets for the opening of Amazing Grace. After attending the movie, no one I talked to had heard of it at all. My understanding is that the Wednesday night showing was also very low, but that doesn't surprise me as many of the people who might have attended this movie were probably at church on a Wednesday night. They need to do better advertising for opening - and remember the scheduled of those most likely to attend.
I LOVED the character Rhonda and how the others related to her. Rhonda seemed to be working to remember her lines, but there is a scene where she really was trying to go by a script she showed to Sherry (it didn't work) and so maybe a lot of the rest of the time this character would script out in her mind what she wanted to say and then deliver those lines rather than being herself. Her final lines did appear to be from the heart.
The character of Gary was the best portrayed. He seemed the most natural in acting. I would love to know his background - how was he able to answer Rhonda the way he did with the verses from Isaiah? What in his past made him know that?
In spite of Rachel's sneaky manners, one couldn't help but feel a little sorry for her.
Award for best facial expression goes to: Pastor Wexler after all the prayers and sharing.
At the preview we saw a deleted scene with Gary and Jeremy. Although I think it needs a little tweaking (seemed a bit rough, not the normal easy flow of a casual conversation), I really wish they'd put it in! The movie is only about 90 minutes long and can easily absorb this scene which I think addresses a valid question from many people.
I wish I could see this again right now! I'd love to have the chance to see the humorous parts, think more on some of the more poignant lines delivered, just enjoy the characters and their interaction again.
I will probably try to take family/friends to see this when it is released (although I really DO hate to pay the high ticket prices! That's why I stay away from theaters!) but will definitely buy this when it is released on DVD and show that to friends and family.
I only went to the preview because I am hoping that by voting with my feet, more movies like this will be made.
I agree with Pat Chris. This was probably the finest Christian film
I've ever seen. I was so involved with the real life circumstances that
I didn't even bother to critique the film-making.
It's real life movie making. Outstanding. I hope I see many more like it.
In hindsight, the structure of the "working out" of the issues weren't as fluid or as realistic as one would hope to see, but there's only so much time in a movie and they did what could with what they had.
I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to see "reality" in Christian film-making yet without the unnecessary garbage of inappropriateness. I have added it to my collection.
I've seen the movie a couple more times and its weaknesses are a bit more evident, but nevertheless, the acting overall was quite good and the messages in the movie are so practical and just as importantly, it doesn't have that "lame Christian movie" look and feel that so many have.
If you relate to that moniker, and would like to watch Christian movies that are a clear step above, then I think this will not disappoint.
This movie is a must see for those on the fence Christian people who are not just sure what to make of God or Christian thinking. I heard my wife play this while I was on my computer, came in to watch, and almost left, but something about the way these people presented the issues, and topics, I couldn't leave, and am I glad I didn't; the end was phenomenal, and I could not of asked for sweeter tears! It covers some very controversial issues in today's world, not all mind you, but it does cover them, quite well, and with amazing clarity. I was amazed at first with John playing such a part, but he was better here than in The Duke's of Hazard. Hope everyone sees this movie!
Hidden Secrets, like last year's The Second Chance, shows a bold new direction for Christian film-making. Screenwriters and directors of faith are starting to leave the easily-fantasized world of "end times" stories behind and stepping out in faith in an attempt to make films that really challenge both Christians and non-Christians by showing more realistic people and the realistic crises and problems they face. Like The Second Chance, this movie will actually be maligned by some believers... which means it's just doing its job. After all, Jesus's message of truth was not wholeheartedly embraced. But the fact remains that people struggle with many issues, and Christians are no different. Being a Christian isn't a magical diagnosis for all your problems going away (one of the issues I had with Facing the Giants - while I found it quite inspirational and enjoyable, it didn't show the other side of the coin) - in fact, the bible states over and over again that in this world we will have trouble - but it is in the promise of an eternal life with Christ where we can live free of sin and free of tears that we rest our hope. This movie portrays that brilliantly. The always reliable, very natural David A.R. White shines in this as he does in his other films, and game support is provided by some well-known and lesser known veterans, including John Schneider, Staci Keenan, Corin Nemic, Tracy Melchior and Gregg Binkley. Oh, did I mention it has a lot of genuine laughs, too? Those come courtesy of a witty script that lets the humor flow naturally from characters and situations as opposed to cheap laughs and pop culture references. I guess you can say it's a "dramedy" version of The Big Chill, but with a Christian worldview. You'll like the folks in the film. You'll root for them (well, except maybe for one). You'll spend an hour and a half with a thought-provoking, engaging, heartwarming and humorous story. That and dinner sounds like the perfect date night for you and your S.O., no? Enjoy! :)
Correctly identified as a Christian version of The Big Chill, Hidden
Secrets tells of high school friends who get back together in their
early 30s after the death of one of their group. This is not a homemade
movie, in which the local pastor directed and the youth minister and
his wife starred. The cast includes Bo Duke (John Schneider) and
Reginald Vel Johnson of Family Matters. The acting, production values
and music are professional throughout. It does indeed manage to capture
much of The Big Chill's sense of poignancy balanced with sentimentality
and still add a Christian message or two. My biggest problem in the
ensemble production was telling people apart. Much is made over the
fact that Sherry and Rachel look alike. They do, especially when both
have their hair up. It usually takes a smile to tell young Jennifer
Anniston look-like Sherry (Tracy Melchior) from Rachel (Staci Keanan).
The problem is, the guys are also almost indistinguishable on first
viewing. Schneider and David A.R. White are virtual doubles and Corin
Nemec and Gregg Binkley even bear enough resemblance to each other to
cause confusion on first viewing. It took me three viewings to feel
like I was 100% sure who was who at all times.
The story sees members of a high school band and a couple of other friends returning to their home town to bury a central figure in their group. Chris, the recently departed friend, was apparently the glue that held the friends together and had helped most of the others through personal struggles. Now his death helps them all come together and deal with some important issues once again.
The group stays with Sherry, Chris' sister, who is getting ready to open a bed-and-breakfast. She had also been virtually engaged to Jeremy (White) until a dark secret caused her to break it off 10 years before. Many of them have been drifting for years: Jeremy and Sherry since the breakup, Anthony since a knee injury ended his football dreams and Herald, whose success as a Christian author has been severely tempered by his marriage to obnoxious Rhonda. Autumn Paul as Rhonda adds much spice to the film, although I think she is a bit of a cardboard villain. Many of her sanctimonious actions I have witnessed first-hand (usually from new believers). She goes so far as to make her actions questionable, however. I can believe her saying "I wonder how many of these people would go to Hell if they died today" with a relish that makes it obvious she enjoys the thought of them getting their just deserts. We even find ourselves on Gary's side when he refutes her heavy-handed attempt to witness to him through an Internet script. Sadly, most of us have known non-believers whose company we vastly preferred to the brother or sister who tried to witness to them. What I cannot believe is any Christian, no matter how pompous, NOT wanting sinners to come to their church. I think any Christian I've ever known would be thrilled to have Asama bin Laden (after going through a medal detector, perhaps) in a pew, hearing one's pastor preach the Word, just on the CHANCE the Lord might snag him. To me, Rhonda's character veered off into cardboard J.R. Ewing/Snidely Whiplash villainy at this point.
This seems to be the main message: A bitter, judgmental Christian is going to drive more away from Christ than he/she will ever lead to Him. The other message is that Christ's blood is sufficient to cover all sins and that it is not too late to follow His will. Both points are well presented within a framework that is an enjoyable, engrossing movie that does indeed capture much of the warmth and charm of The Big Chill.
This was a tight little movie... it was refreshing to see a movie put together so well with it not costing 100 million dollars... it's moral tales and twists were excellent... if you are a Christian you will really dig this movie and if you're not you should watch it anyway... who knows what might happen to you... I really enjoyed this movie and thanks to everyone involved...its nice to see a movie with my family where I don't have to be concerned... for those of you that saw the Big chill and liked it this is the Christian version. The directing, writing and acting were all very solid... Tracy Melchoir, David White, John Schneider, Reginald Johnson all very cool... all very good... thanks again for a ten.
Hidden Secrets may have "overdone" Christianity, but it is a wonderful movie. John Schneider, David White, etc. That is the point of Christian movies, make the viewer aware. It is a great movie. I have watched it many times. I really don't think Christianity can be overdone. The lady playing Rhonda may be a bit overbearing, but it's part of the story. Self-explanatory. John Schneider plays his part with excellence. The doubter. If it weren't for the part of Rhonda, there would not have been the "doubters" questions. David White and all of the others are great. Especially when they are repairing the roof. You have comedy, sadness, and most of all acceptance that Jesus is real. I think that this movie has everything anyone would want in a Christian movie.
I've seen this movie around 7 or 8 times. I keep coming back for the humor and the acting, and staying for the script. The characters feel very real-life to me; although Michael feels, at first, a bit too "holy," until we find out the reason for his careful walk. I have known far too many Rhondas who insist on sanctifying everyone else, so she feels familiar, too. The acting - humor, drama, and even the eye rolling - is on par with big budget films, better than some. I found the scenes others have criticized, the roofing, the dance, the church, to be entertaining and well done. What impresses me most in this blatantly Christian movie is who the chief Wise Man and Counselor eventually is revealed to be. I highly recommend this fine movie for individuals, couples, and families, Christian or not. It makes a great church group discussion topic, by the way. We have used it for that and the reactions have been surprising and varied.
If you told me that somebody decided to make a Christian version of The
Big Chill, I'd be both intrigued and scared by the idea. It would
involve a lot of dull talky scenes and most likely cringe-inducingly
bad attempts at comedy as well as a ham-fisted moral lesson with all
the brevity and subtlety of watching Superman fight General Zod.
That being said, let's look at Hidden Secrets.
In this film-
Wait, "Hidden Secrets"? If something is a secret, then it's meant to stay hidden and if something is hidden then by its very status is is something hidden!
When the title of your film creates a potential feedback loop, you're in trouble.
A man named David has just died.
How did he die? Well, he died because Plot is a cruel cinematic goddess who demands fictional blood be spilled in her unholy name.
David's sister Sherry has to make arrangements for his burial and that includes calling his friends to gather for the event.
While the opening credits roll, we see various characters preparing for a funeral
Yes, this is a character-driven Christian movie. Consider yourself warned.
To be fair, whenever the characters have a philosophical or theological discussion, the film borders on watchable. But just when you find yourself ready to describe a scene as 'tolerable' the script will crack the whip and force the actors to do something comedic. And the results vary from 'terrible' to 'soul-crushing.'
And most of the soul-crushing comes from Rhonda.
Oh, I cannot do this review without discussing a witch called Rhonda. She's meant to represent the judgmental, prideful, super Christian who drives people into Satan worship. Sometimes she's gently abrasive ( like a sandpaper swipe against a naked eyeball) and other times she is so hyper-zealous that she leaps beyond Rude and blossoms into Abusive.
Rhonda and Gary (John Scheider) have a little verbal collision when she learns that he works in stem cell research. I don't get enough manufactured drama reading X-Men comics, so moments like these warm my heart, just like spicy food.
Shocked, Rhonda runs back into the house and tells Sherry that Gary is no better than a murdering abortionist (and depending on whom you ask, that phrase sounds redundant). Going into Godly Overdrive, Rhonda almost shrieks that God's judgment will fall on the place because of him and I can only imagine that her unborn child is trying to squeak out, "Lady, this woman does not speak for me, I'm only along for the ride and the free food."
Exasperated, Sherry forcefully reminds Rhonda that she just put her own brother in the ground so maybe they should talk about this later.
We have our First Moment Of True Entertainment in this movie!
Rhonda storms off, because compassion is something that happens to other Christians.
That entire sequence is just one (ONE!) example of what we get from Rhonda. Every time she opens her mouth, a part of you will shrivel in fear because By The Audience This Movie Dumbs, Something Annoying This Way Comes.
Have no fear though, since the other characters are less hate-inducing but that doesn't help.
Jeremy (who used to love Shelley) and Rachel are having relationship woes and the fact that Jeremy is forced to interact with Shelley isn't helping.
During a painfully long and uninteresting roofing montage, the guys start discussing why Jeremy and Sherry broke up. This is a good question: why can't two blandly blonde people get along? Jeremy doesn't know why she dumped him and the breakup did affect his faith. He admits to doing a few things he wasn't proud of.
It's okay, we don't blame you for Second Glance.*
There are so many horrible non-moments that I can't possibly recount them all here.
The actors all look embarrassed when they try to sound funny and bored otherwise. The only ones really trying are John Schneider as Gary the atheist and David A. R. White as Jeremy the ..guy.
I try hard to give a lot of 'grace' to films from such a tight genre.
The Christian movie scene has been glutted with really BAD films. But
since Sherwood Pictures came along, there seems to be a marked
improvement. When I saw that John Schneider had jumped into this I
thought it had to be as good as Facing The Giants or Flywheel. BOY WAS
About every cliché Christian situation is going on here. The acting is HORRIBLE. Schneider is really good - the rest of them just climbed out of the choir loft to help out.
Some questions: Who roofs a house in their nice slacks and dress shoes? What church in America features that many different races? What church member in America is so vocally obnoxious during a worship service? Why is Building 429 playing at a secular bar? Why is "the big chill" band reunion just an overdub of Building 429? The same band that just finished singing? I could go on.
I went to the test screening - was audibly laughing out loud at the sorry quality of the film. Fortunately there was only 3 other people there.
Come on Christians - you don't have to sacrifice proper evaluation just because the movie is on our side. Be real - this one was an embarrassment.
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