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The Columbine High School Massacre was one of the most important
impacts of our nation and our school systems for a multitude of
reasons. A rather common but nonetheless heartbreaking event, the
tragic murders of twelve people left many hearts broken and spirits
withered. Families, friends, and all people nationwide watch their TVs
in shock and sorrow, as they hear the gunshots and see the tears
flowing in young teenager's eyes. Most heartbreaking however was the
fact that it wasn't some foreign terrorist attack nor some natural
fire, but rather at the helm of two psychologically troubled teenagers
who wanted revenge. This in particular led a huge impact in our
society, such as a push to more weapons security as well as multiple
campaigns on Anti-Bullying and Mental Health counseling. But a lot of
these changes were hinged on the biggest question of the time - "why?
Why did they do this?" Multiple claims were thrown into discussion but
barely any of them were concrete: "It's the videogames!", says one.
"It's the bullies!" says another. "Maybe it's that pesky Marilyn
Manson!", says that fellow over yonder. Even to this day, these
perceptions on the promotion of terrorism lingered as many people
desperately wished for an answer to this tragedy.
But then, courtesy of the TV-level hacks of PureFlix, I'm Not Ashamed lunges into the fray and claims to finally have an answer! Centered around the recovered accounts of a diary by one victim Rachel Joy Scott, the film dares cement the fact that the tragic murders of 12 helpless victims were an attempt to stop Rachel's task of spreading the word of the Lord. No really. That's it. I'm Not Ashamed literally evokes a metaphor saying that the root of terrorism stems from the fact that these people are Anti-God punk-rock losers who want to get revenge on those who believe in God.
OH MY FING GOD!! And that's not even the worst part of the movie.
I'm Not Ashamed is a disgusting dumpster fire of a movie. A terrible, poorly-conceived catastrophe that dares use the last moments of the victims of Columbine as a plot device to halt Rachel Joy Scott's "exodus" without ever respecting or properly representing the truth out of it. It's a pandering, bias-pushing disaster that sinks even below the worst this type of movie offers so far. It's Remember Me bad. It's Little Boy bad!
Masey McLain plays a ditzy, obnoxious, Gossip Girl-esque version of Rachel as she struggles with her last days of high school by supervision of her Christian household. After one harmless night out with her friends, her strict mother suggests the proper penance is to spend the summer in exile with her God-loving cousin in the farm so that she can find her righteous path. After she does, she acts like a saintly, cutesy little button to all her classmates. She helps a douchebag get back on his feet, joins a theatre class, and makes a lovely friend with a mentally disabled kid. DAW, MOVIE! YOU'RE JUST THE SWEETEST THING AREN'T YOU!?
It's not all smiles and sunshine though. At times, she ponders about her faith and her place in the world like any other angst-y, stupid teens back then who never keeps in mind to anything other than themselves. This happens along with her breaking up with friends, arguing with parents and boyfriend, and dealing with stereotypical bullies. But then after some undiscernible reason, she finally finds her place (again?) with God and finally make friends with everyone in the school.
Oh, and I should also mention the SHOOTERS OF COLUMBINE!?!?! Yeah, apparently Eric and Dylan's backstories are rushed and haphazardly scattered throughout the movie until the final scene in which they have their way with Rachel and her newly found Christian friends (a scene that, mind you, looks straight out of a sadistic Mel Gibson movie). Because of the insulting rush-job, they're given the most retrograde and insulting character traits that only the most cynical, right-wing filmmakers can come up with. They play violent videogames, argues against God, salutes to Hitler, wears black, gets bullied comically, shoots weapons for revenge instead of sport like the original two shooters, and worships a pho-creationist/fascist "natural selection" belief. These guys sound like they should be fighting against Jack Reacher instead of a classroom!
Even apart from the asinine depiction and the insulting agenda- pushing by PureFlix, I'm Not Ashamed is just bad. The staging and direction is limp and inert. There's no clear motivation or logic in anything going on within character or narrative. None of the acting works. The song cues are obnoxious. The dialogue swings from on-the- nose to just awkward. The drama's plagiarized tenfold from other, better high-school movies. Most damning, there's no way of smart, complex morality at play in a story that DEMANDS it. The bullies stop being bullies because "GOD, YAAS!!" and the shooters have no other trait beyond the "kill all that we hate!". It's insulting and unpleasant.
Now to iterate; I don't hate God or am against any of those who follow a belief. I strongly believe that anyone has a right to follow their beliefs and that I don't have any place to criticize anyone because of that. To all my Christian friends who love these Pureflix films or in general loves the aspect of spreading the word of the Lord, do what you wish and I am glad you do so.
However, as I still stand, this movie is just disgusting. Everyone involved should be ashamed for this movie. I would never criticize any belief or opinion, but for a movie like I'm Not Ashamed to do exactly that implicitly is just horrible. I want to burn this movie. I want to erase it from my subconscious and hope to never utter its name or see its poster again.
AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!
A semi-biographical (i.e. mostly made up) film about a girl who finds
Jesus, has completely average problems, and sadly dies in a school
shooting -- because that's the most important and interesting thing
about Columbine. Those other kids, especially that boy who was killed
for being black: who cares, really?
Rachel seems to have been a nice enough girl (although she conned her mother into thinking she was "witnessing" at all those drunken parties she attended), but she has been compared, in all seriousness, with Anne Frank. There are just so many parallels between a girl who had to study for physics tests, whose parents were divorced, and suffered absolutely no persecution for her religion or anything else until she died in a random shooting, with a Jewish girl during WW II who died of a horrible disease at the hands of people who hated her very being, after years of fear and suffering. They both wrote journals, dammit! But did Anne share her journal with a hunky homeless man? I think not.
This is probably the most well-made Pure Flix film to date.
Too bad it's taking advantage of a tragedy to push it's religious agenda.
You see, when you make a movie about such a tragedy, you owe it to the survivors, and the families of the deceased to get your facts right...as well as not push your agenda.
The ending to this film never happened. It didn't. The rest of the film probably didn't happen either (save for the actual school shooting).
The most offensive thing about this film isn't even the "this is a true story" aspect to it, despite being riddled with falsehoods.
No the most offensive thing about this film is how it tries to manipulate you, especially at the end of film, by using such a tragedy to elicit an emotional response. They even got actual survivors and friends of Rachel to place flowers and such on her car, though none of them seem to question the validity of the movie (probably because they had no idea just how bad the movie really is).
Movies about tragedy can be made, but please, don't use tragedy as a backdrop for your agenda.
"I'm Not Ashamed" (2016 release; 112 min.) brings the story of 17 yr.
old student Rachel Scott, who was the very first victim at the
Columbine High School tragedy in 1999. As the movie opens, we get TV
footage from those horrifying moments right after the shootings. We
then go back in time, when Rachel was 8 years old, and her parents are
splitting up, leaving her mom in a financial struggle to raise 5 kids.
We then go to "April 1998 - Sophomore Year", with Rachel doing well in
school. Rachel is particularly interested in the drama class. At this
point we're not even 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more would
spoil your viewing experience.
Couple of comments: this movie is marketed as a "christian" film, and plays out like one. If that is going to bother you, please do yourself a favor and catch a different movie for your enjoyment. I really didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at the maturity, even sophistication, of this movie (the script is based on Rachel's journals, we are reminded at the beginning of the movie). That said, it is also a bit of a missed opportunity, as it focuses mainly on Rachel, and not hardly any time on the 2 shooters. If you have the expectation that this movie might delve into the "why did they do it", this movie will not provide the answer (other than some very general and broad brushes). All that said, the last 15 min. of the movie packs an emotional wallop, for obvious reasons. The movie makers hit the bull's eye when they cast Masey McLain as Rachel, she is absolutely fantastic. Bottom line: this is a fine movie (made on a dime, total budget a mere $1.5 million). But if you want to understand Columbine, this is not the movie for it. (Earlier this year, Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan, one of the 2 Columbine shooters, issued a devastating memoir called "A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy", which I would readily recommend to anyone, Christian or not.)
The movie opened on a couple of screens this weekend here in Cincinnati. The Saturday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely, somewhat to my surprise. It sounds like there is a market for well-made Christian films. If, on the other hand, you want to get a look at the promising life of one of the Columbine victims (who this year otherwise would be 34 years old), then I would readily recommend you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
If you are a Christian and like movies about Christianity, then "I'm
Not Ashamed" is probably worth your time. If you don't fall into this
category, however, then you probably won't appreciate or like the
movie...it's that simple.
This movie is a dramatization of the life of one of the victims of the infamous Columbine Massacre back in 1999. Rachel Joy Scott was a Christian girl who died that day and the film shows her progression from a casual Christian to an 'out and proud Christian'...and how that ultimately led to be being singled out for murder (something the media at the time de-emphasized) as well as the impact this young girl had on others' lives. It's all very sweet...as well as very disturbing and sad...at the same time.
I think the biggest reason I appreciated the film is that while it showed a recreation of the events on the day of the Columbine High School shooting, it did NOT show very much--just the killing of Scott and shooting of a boy she was with at the time (whether or not he died as well, I do not know). The sum total of all this is oddly inspirational and there were no dry eyes in the audience at the end (hint--take along some Kleenex). I also appreciate how this film and quite a few others have recently targeted the Christian audience--giving them some family-friendly films that are well made and worth seeing. But, considering the subject matter, it is NOT a film for young kids.
I'm Not Ashamed is based on the life and premature death of Rachel Joy
Scott, a student who went to Columbine High School on the fateful day
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris committed, what was at the time the worst
school shooting in U.S. history. The film is brought to you by Pure
Flix Entertainment, an independent Christian film and television studio
which should give you an indication of who this movie is for and what
it's trying to accomplish. Given my particular track-record with this
production company, I came in fully expecting to hate this film -
especially given its uncomfortable subject matter. Yet by the time the
film reached its inevitable, heartbreaking conclusion, I must admit,
this little Christian title had me a bit misty-eyed.
The film begins with a young Rachel drawing on her wardrobe cabinet with Crayon. We're given a brief tour of her broken home before she's whisked away as a teen to Louisiana for the summer to stay with her aunt (under the pretense of avoiding negative influences). It is in Louisiana she rediscovers Christ, starting her sophomore year at Columbine as a baby born again with a necklace cross to prove it. Yet as she rejoins her friends she soon recognizes the struggle of being disciplined in a school culture dominated by teenage angst, blossoming libidos and weekend partying.
Is I'm Not Ashamed Ham-fisted; yeah, pompous and overbearing; sure, amateurish in its execution; you bet, but the story, partially taken from Rachel's diary has a ring of truth to it. We're put into her head-space and can empathize with her struggles to fit in while staying true to her values, finding humility in ourselves as she stumbles, falls and gets up again learning as she goes. For once I felt like I was watching a movie about a Christian instead of a Christian movie. It never feels like a lecture or a sermon but rather a case for understanding; a peek into a worldview through a coming-of-age tale.
The story is served stupendously by the young Masey McLain who doesn't so much debut as arrives to the medium announcing she's the genuine article. She easily sidesteps the stodgy staging, internalizes the poorly delivered lines of her counterparts and reacts like everything is designed for her. That's no easy feat when you have a movie that has her pulling a manic pixie girl routine for a homeless man (Davies) with poorly designed tribal tattoos and the haircut of a 1960's NASA employee.
Additionally, the very rudimentary direction and cinematography can't help but undercut the film at every turn. There wasn't a single inspired moment. Of course an argument can be made that I'm Not Ashamed purposely eschews the Norman Rockwell sheen of Miracles from Heaven (2016) or Heaven is For Real (2014) to give it a certain authenticity. Yet I'd be more receptive to that idea if it wasn't so obvious they were trying for it. At it's best the film has the poorly executed sweep of a below average music video complete with scenes of the least exciting teenage ragers in history. At its worst I'm Not Ashamed resembles a Valtrex commercial.
A lot can be said about producer David A.R. White and Pure Flix's unabashed cavort towards Christ-ploitation but at least there's little doubt they actually believe what they're selling. I'd be lying if I said I didn't pruriently enjoy the flippant potshots towards groups not attune to the film's values - in this case the silliest analog is Cameron McKendry as a crush who "doesn't want to use labels". At this point, the kind of culture war contrarianism this kind of stuff is known for should be reacted to with a roll of the eyes.
Yet when all is said and done, Rachel's initial message of compassion and kindness shines through the usual muck and noise. While yes, it might be just as shabby looking as your average 7th Heaven (1996- 2007) riff, the familiar wrapping shouldn't necessarily dissuade. For once we're treated to a grown up, Christian worldview that proudly states what it's about instead of quibbling over what it's against. Considering that almost never happens, I'm Not Ashamed is arguably the best Christian film made yet.
And yes I did chuckle during the credits when, once again, we were zealously given the number to the film's text campaign.
I'm Not Ashamed is a powerful story that will inspire and encourage. Everyone should see this movie! Students will be encouraged as they see Rachel's challenging journey to gain strength, freedom and hope through the mine fields of her parents divorce and school bullying. From insecurity to security in Christ. Powerful release of forgiveness toward friends that betrayed her. Healing over broken relationships. Honest sharing of the pains of growing and learning. Though Rachel found herself through these situations, the movie is filled with sensitivity and is not preachy. There are a number of humorous scenes but I still needed tissues as I walked through this journey with this precious girl. Go see it....take your family....take your friends....talk with them about what you learned...listen to their views.... spread the word!!!!
This movie touches so many areas in a teen's life. It's amazing just how many. My family and I have been dealing with a major problem this week and seeing this movie helped immensely. We are Christians, but Christians are not insulated or immune to problems and challenges. This movie brought us closer to God in a number of ways, and afterward my children were crying and saying they knew they needed to be better people. Of course Rachel's story was difficult at times to see. I highly recommend this movie - but especially for those in their teens. Teenagers deal with so many stressful, scary situations, and they need us. They need our support, our time, and our love. I thought having babies and toddlers was hard. This is a different hard. Many things we deal with now as parents is way overwhelming and difficult. We need more uplifting, Christian movies like this - we need hope and positivity.
My perspectives on doing interviews and connecting with Artists, Authors, and Musicians has changed dramatically. Taylor "Gabby" Kalupa said that she found my station from a pop up while surfer Facebook, that suggested she contact Racman Christian Radio. When I learned of this I thought, "I DIDN'T pay for advertising, but thank you God for open doors." This led to having Taylor on my show, led to having an interview with Cameron "Alex" McKindrey, which has led to my next interviews with Masey "Rachel" McClain and director, Brian Baugh! Now, I have just finished watching the inside pre-screening and I am beyond words for the message of the film. This is not a Christian film. This is a movie about a real girl; with real world struggles; whose life was snuffed out because she claimed her faith to the face of cowards who shot her. You must see this film: in theaters; on DVD; however, you can. Thank you to Beth Nimmo for being brave to share your daughter's true life for us to see!
I took my 16 year old and her friend to see this. I was hoping it would encourage them to be strong in their faith and to want to make a difference. It's the perfect movie for a high school or middle school student because they can relate to it so beautifully! We cried, we laughed, and we left thinking wow! what a remarkable and real young woman Rachel was! The drawing of the teardrops at the end still give us goosebumps- Last night my daughter was writing in a journal (something she hasn't done in 3 years) and i immediately thought how she must have been inspired from seeing Rachel write in her journal, and she was asking about inviting friends to church (again inspired by Rachel). I was thrilled! This movie really touched and inspired my daughter in her faith!
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