Grace Unplugged (2013)
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Having grown up in a musical family where I was in the shadow of older siblings and parents, I appreciated how she wanted to do her own thing. I loved the chemistry between her and her parents. The Hollywood portion of it was a bit predictable, but most movies--even the best ones--are.
If you are looking for an inspiration film where you don't have to worry about what your child will hear or see, this is the one to watch. It would be a great film to show in a church youth group or family night. I highly recommend it.
Grace Unplugged has some good performances, as well as a heartwarming story. You feel for the characters. You get pulled into the struggles of the father/daughter relationship. You want Grace to follow her dreams. You really vest yourself as an audience member.
That would not be possible if the Christian-cheese factor were prevalent.
I have to admit that there were a couple of moments (without including any spoilers) that the cheese crept in. However, overall- without PROFANITY, NUDITY, GRATUITOUS DRUGS/SIMULATED SEX/SUGGESTIVE ANYTHING, this movie managed to really work. The cast had chemistry. The story pulled heartstrings. It was truly a success.
It felt like it was trying, until it got afraid of actually saying something interesting or different. It had some nice tunes, it had some nice ideas, but I was really hoping for something better.
Obviously, this movie doesn't say anything new, but it gives its message with a relatively fresh and bright way. Although I would personally prefer it if Grace had found a better balance between the two different worlds she was divided among, better if she had imposed her own moral rules to the music industry (I would have loved to see THAT!), it still turns out just fine. So although this movie is not in the AVENGERS league, its still manages with the simple resources its using, and, some really good acting of course, to deliver a nice message (regardless of anyone's religious beliefs, if you can get past that),and to let you, as I said, with a nice warm feeling. Ah,and the music is also really nice. So, If you haven't something really better to do, go see it!
Grace, an 18 year old girl raised with the Christian faith is set to find her own life path. Her father, who is insisting her not to abandon the faith is the one to be convinced about what she wanted to accomplish in her life. She takes the chance that comes her way and the rest is history making.
An inspiring film. Not just for the Christian faith, but anybody with dreaming to accomplish something big. Particularly the youngsters. The cast was good, and the characters. Music tracks too enjoyable. Maybe the runtime should have been a shorter to accompany the pace. But overall not bad, a fine film was once watching.
Acting was really good. I cried so much in this movie because it was so believable, like I was watching a family that I knew. I would've given this movie a 10 if it included the family praying. I found it strange that there wasn't at least one instance of prayer or reference to Jesus' name. But overall it was an excellent movie about faith in God and doing what's right and what pleases Him because that is what gives us true peace and joy in the end.
Maybe I'm missing something, but even with the tacked-on and somewhat forced emotional relationship between the young woman and her father, I still find this film more of a religious cautionary tale than anything along the lines of inspiring. The young woman aspired to be something bigger, to inspire young souls with her music and her passionate lyrics, and she was mostly tossed around like a cheap ragdoll. This is a wonderful message for young singer-songwriters who may want to break into the business.
The young woman is Grace Trey, played by Aly Michalka, who was famous for about a year when she worked with her sister AJ. Her dad is Johnny Trey (Desperate Housewives' James Denton), a rock star who fell of his peak and hit every ledge on the way down. Finally, the record producer is Kevin Pollak, in a roll that is nowhere near as daring or as shocking as it could be. If all that happened to Grace in her stint as a popular recording artist was in this film, I think many artists and musicians would consider her lucky.
But Grace Unplugged doesn't aspire to be graphic or deeply-rooted in blunt, frightening honesty. It aspires to be a religious parable and to tell the story of an adolescent who got a bit too big for her britches and abandoned the word of God in favor of a more fast-moving life as an artist. For one, the film's first misstep is one that common Christian films make and that's showing the world who does not believe in God, or at least openly express their love for God, in a negative, demeaning light that portrays them as beings that lack ethical decision-making. The film seems to think that because someone holds The Bible and the idea of God close to them, and expresses it openly and frequently, they are already good-hearted and intelligent people, while those who either silently-express themselves or don't have a religious view at all are terrible people we shouldn't trust.
That view in itself is almost a candidate for religious propaganda and it's unfortunate that writers Brad J. Silverman and Brandon Rice appear to think that way. It seems that a growing principle of Christian cinema is to show the secular world as godless degenerates incapable of making the right decision or an inferior one when, in 2014 America, we should be shying away from that and dismantling that idea. But I digress; Grace Unplugged, however, is buoyed by a surprisingly entertaining story and a great central performance by Michalka to at least be deemed worth-watching in some aspects. Even though Denton and Pollak frequently turn up on screen, this is Michalka's show in its entirety, and whether you call it another performance or an attempt to revitalize a career that was slumping, it's a performance that will be one of the most remembered in her filmography for years to come.
The Grace character, however, is a different story. She isn't your atypical adolescent, with aspirations to express herself through music and the limitless wonders of creative expression, but it's her surly attitude becomes a bit much. She often seems ungrateful for what she has been handed, disobeying her parents and then blaming them for getting upset, and often picking fights with her father just to show that she's not a little kid anymore. Then there's the fact that the film feels to gloss over certain incidents in her popularity and zip-by, showing many tours and meetings in montage, not giving us the real idea, or at least the film's, of what actually goes on behind these closed-door board meetings.
Long story short, Grace Unplugged is far from a perfect film, especially showing when it tries its hand at showing emotion which comes off as nothing but manipulative. But there's real talent at hand with Michalka's performance, which shows vulnerability in a realistic way. Then there's the fact that watching someone go from humble beginnings to a celebrity creating some sizable shockwaves domestically is quite entertaining to watch unfold, solely for the reason of character intimacy. If there were ever a film to see for the reason that it has a number of considerable issues but still succeeds in strong, key areas, Grace Unplugged is it.
Starring: Aly Michalka, James Denton, and Kevin Pollak. Directed by: Brad J. Silverman.
Being a follower of Jesus is more than playing the latest contemporary music in a church worship team, it means being his, twenty four seven, in all that we do. Walking in ways that please Him not striving to have one's way because it satisfies the flesh. There is never any indication that the young lady in this film, or her father either, have got any more than a "little religion" which has made them somewhat different from those around them.
The new birth, regeneration, as specified by Jesus in John 3, and later in the NT in the book of Titus is a whole new way of life, because it's life that God has given not simply a new way of doing things. "Christian" films today are marginalizing what it means to be a child of the King. And it's so disappointing to see professing Christian brethren give them high marks simply because sex and bad language are being omitted. Our standards are being lowered each time a film of this genre makes its appearance.
The story has a common plot. There are really no surprising twists, creative transitions or unpredictable scenes, but what makes it great is that such Christian films are rare. Besides, the story doesn't seem dragging. Moreover, the actress and actors were great. The acting was natural and does not seem forced. It was also surprising to see James Denton (the father) who formerly was from desperate housewives; Jamie Grace – a Dove awarded singer, songwriter and musician; Kevin Pollak – a veteran actor; and a cameo by Chris Tomlin and Pia Toscano – an American idol season 10 top7.
It is indeed a nice film for every contemporary Christian musician. It is encouraging and inspiring even to those who want to try to write songs. It is also informative and reveals some of the realities that not everyone knew about what it is to be in the industry. The songs are also great and the fact that AJ Michalka is a real singer adds value to the integrity of the film. The film may seem like a cliché but there are classic lessons that parents and daughters/sons must never forget.