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Danielle C. Ryan
It's basically "Groundhog Day" but with Christian values, yet I don't think that cheapens the film at all, considering that "Groundhog Day" already had Christian themes in it to begin with; so to complain about this being a knockoff is kind of pointless.
Rather, it takes that established formula of living the same day over and does new things with it, which is always welcome.
The main character, Jason, goes through the same thing, except what he has to confront is the bitterness and disdain he has for the rough patches in his life. This is brought about by the girl he meets, Mack, who propels him toward his journey of trial and error until he gets it right. The chemistry between the characters is believable due to the humorous writing. It's a common thing for reviewers to point out the humor which fails in faith-based films, but I legitimately laughed out loud at some of the scenes. Additionally, the acting is quite good here, particularly so in the more serious moments. The humor can still be cheesy at times, but it's so little that it's easy to overlook at about the 20-minute mark. The chemistry between the leads had to work in order for this to be good, and it did. It was borderline excellent.
The message of forgiveness may have been done plenty of times, but as long as humans exist, there will always be interesting ways to tackle old themes. In the case of "77 Chances," the same applies, and it still feels fresh for doing so. It's also very well paced, and solidly lit with some moments of very good cinematography.
I would definitely recommend this movie to non-Christians because it is competently acted and directed, but I have to give major props to the main actor. He was great. He doesn't deal with his pain in a predictably angry and over-the-top way but rather, he's deeply hurt by his past so his bitterness manifests itself in his life in both obvious and far more subtle ways. The obvious ways are that he's not enthusiastic about his job and not always considerate of others. The subtle ways are that he's actually polite when confronted about the heavy things in his life, even if he suppresses them. This makes a world of a difference in terms of execution.
Another interesting thing to note was how Jason and Mack were opposites. It's not that Jason is shy, but rather lowly and quiet. Mack was the extrovert. These personality types work believably together; and yes, there are extroverted girls out there who initiate contact. They exist. It's happened to me. I didn't entirely buy in to the nerd-girl aspect of Mack's character, but it's a movie. You don't watch this for absolute realism. You watch it for the message and for it be conveyed well enough.
Christian or not, give it a go. I could see even the most cynical viewers enjoying it because the date scenes are actually sweet and funny. There's no denying the effort that was put in to the script for the romantic parts to work. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a good love story?
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