A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Saving Faith happens in Clinton, Tennessee, where good-hearted, God-fearing people reside in an idyllic small-town setting. The faith-based movie tells the story of a young woman whose community movie theater is on the verge of foreclosure. The heroine is passionately trying to save the theater, which has been in her family for decades, but she's thwarted by a greedy businessman who will stop at nothing to make a financial killing. Christian messages are plentiful and earnest, with frequent references to "God's plan," prayer as a source of renewal, and the concept that faith will be rewarded. Viewers should be aware that posters, as well as the DVD cover itself, advertise an array of country music celebs as "guest stars," but they appear only in brief phone calls. There's nothing objectionable in the material; however, it's doubtful that the story and themes would appeal to most kids.
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What's the story?
The Ritz Theater in Clinton, Tennessee, is only days away from foreclosure in SAVING FAITH. Young Faith Scott (Jenn Gotzon) is devastated. The theater's survival is her great passion, passed to her from her beloved mom and aunt. Faith is certain that she's let them -- and the whole town -- down. Her caring uncle Donny (Donny Richmond) attempts to comfort and encourage her. His religious convictions tell him that if she puts her faith in God, she'll be rewarded. Donny remembers that decades ago, when the theater was near financial ruin, Faith's mom and aunt staged a lavish Christmas show in the middle of summer, with country music stars to headline. It worked then and it can work now. Faith is skeptical, but willing to try. When Vince Gill and Amy Grant agree to appear, things are looking up -- way up. What the family doesn't know, however, is that a nefarious local businessman has other ideas. Peter Marsh (Carey Jones) is plotting against them, just waiting for the Ritz to close so he can buy the property and sell it at a big profit. So while Faith and company prepare, Marsh and company set obstacles in their path.
Is it any good?
Another entry in the "let's put on a show" genre, this one is hackneyed and slow-moving, with subpar performances, corny writing, amateurish direction, and cheesy production values. The central storyline -- putting on a Christmas show in July with a famous country headliner to rescue a failing theater -- makes no sense. Poor Faith Scott owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in back mortgage payments, utilities, etc. She admits that even a wildly successful show couldn't possibly save the day, but they all forge ahead and (spoiler alert) somehow it does. Watch for a romance that's immature and shallow, many slow-moving entrances and exits, and truly unfunny comic bits. The faith-based messages in Saving Faith are overt and often, but with little grace or subtlety. Actors are weighed down by lines like "Don't give up. ... We can do anything with God on our side." and "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." As for promoting the appearance of several famous country music stars in the film and then not delivering, it's a cynical deception.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of movies that focus on "putting on a show" as a means to save a town ... or a park ... a school ... a sport ... an annual festival ... (fill in the blank). How does such a story succeed in combining suspense with the high energy it takes to prepare for the event, and the fun of watching underdogs win? How important is a timeline to such a plot? Why?
In literature and film terms, what is a "ticking clock"? How do ticking clocks heighten the suspense in a story or movie? What was the "ticking clock" in Saving Faith?
How did you feel about the fact that the movie lists lots of country singers in the cast, including Vince Gill, Amy Grant, and Michael W. Smith, as "guest stars"? Did you feel disappointed or cheated when they appeared only for a matter of seconds? How can you hold advertisers responsible for such "bait and switch" (in this case, false advertising) techniques?
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