This past weekend Grace Unplugged opened nationwide, gaining a pretty respectable $998K first-weekend draw considering the limited number of screens for release. If you haven’t seen it (or haven’t heard of it), here are a few reasons why you should–and maybe bring a friend or two with you….
–Even with the “Christian movie,” well, stigma for lack of a better word, it’s a solid and plausible story. Who can’t relate to teenage angst, parental struggles and growing pains? Plus the characters simply live their faith in such an easy and natural way that it does feel preachy or judgmental.
–Want to do a little star watching? If you’ve ever been a fan of Aly and AJ, Desperate Housewives, Twilight or Entourage, you can check out some familiar faces in AJ Michalka, James Denton, Michael Welch and Kevin Pollak. Hey, even current General Hospital fans and American Idol devotees can catch a glimpse of recognizable faces in Kelly Thiebaud and Pia Toscano.
–It’s 100% family friendly. I’m an adult and was just recently enlightened to some subtly (and not so subtly) questionable content in movies such as Madagascar and The Golden Compass. No such controversial content here–in fact, one of my church members remarked that aside from enjoying the story herself, she especially enjoyed the fact that she felt completely comfortable watching with her 9-year-old granddaughter–who also thoroughly enjoyed the movie. A rare feat for a film to bridge several generations so successfully.
–Movies with strong Christian overtones tend to get a half-hearted push–if not total dismissal–from marketing and promotion. ALL of the press I’ve heard has been through Facebook–there may have been some Christian radio and television coverage, but I never saw or heard any, and NOTHING in the mainstream media. I work for a network affiliate watching TV for 40 hours a week and didn’t see as much as a 10-second commercial. The fact that word of mouth grossed an almost $1 million opening weekend is impressive but not necessarily a big motivator for Hollywood distributors. And that’s a shame, because if you don’t even mention the father being in music ministry or anything about church, it’s still a good movie. The story is relatable to anybody: everybody had dreams they want to follow and choices they have to make in line with those dreams; everybody has had some form of conflict with their parents in their youth; everybody has done a regrettable thing or two they wish they could make right. Sadly, the “Christian” label tends to put some people off at first glance, and without positive promotion, makes the difference between an audience giving it a chance or passing on it sight unseen. Good numbers, however, might just make room for more pictures like it and much more visible publicity.
I was privileged to see a preview of the movie; I went back to my church congregation and pushed for everyone to go see it. Opening weekend I got my mom and another couple from church to go, and I paid admission–FULL WEEKEND PRICE ADMISSION–to see it again. It’s a movie I’d recommend to anyone and everyone, and the fact that it has a Christian focus is just a bonus.
If you haven’t seen it and want to, go to www.graceunplugged.com to find a theater in your area. And tell a friend…or take a friend.
James Denton and AJ Michalka Spar Well in “Grace Unplugged”