A Review of the Movie “Old Fashioned”

As planned and promised in my post “The Tale of Two Movies this Valentine’s Day Weekend”, my husband and I saw “Old Fashioned” on opening weekend. As we traveled an hour to the theatre, my thoughts bounced between hopefulness and fearfulness.

Old FashionedThe hopeful thoughts centered on my longing for the movie to be good. No, that’s not right. I wanted the movie to be great. Definitely not preachy or cheesy. I was rooting for well-acted with good pacing and realistic, even witty banner between the actors who of course would have to “fit” the parts they portrayed.

Swirling amongst the hopefulness was a fearful anxiety that the movie might not leave audiences with a positive impression about Christians and the church and GOD. I cringed to think the body of CHRIST might be portrayed as a bunch of country bumpkins stuck in the last century, hopelessly out-of-touch with today’s world. I worried it would scream “B” movie, low budget, second class flick.

The Roger Moore movie review I’d read that afternoon fed my fears. He had little good to say about the faith-based flick, labeling it “a slow, preachy romantic comedy.” He picked at the choice of lead actor declaring him a “stiff on the screen” then mocked his attire and haircut as that of “a 40-something charismatic preacher” with “relaxed fit jeans that are a little too long.” Moore’s other disparaging comments made it clear the very premise of the movie got under his skin. He gave it 1 ½ stars out of four.

Fuming, I stuffed the newspaper in my computer bag, with a reminder to pay attention to the hair and the jeans. And to solicit my husband’s opinion before I shared Moore’s comments. I hoped he was dead wrong. Especially about the preachy part.

Please don’t let it be preachy.

Not because we were driving an hour and spending our hard-earned money to see a movie in the theatre which we rarely do. I didn’t care about that. I just didn’t want this faith-based movie, love story hollywoodwith a nationwide, big-screen premier, limited as it was, to flop. Nor did I want it to foster the notion that Christians are wimpy ninnies or whacked out weirdos or out-of-touch nut-jobs.

Please let it advance YOUR kingdom… not hinder it.

Let’s be honest. Not all faith-based movies live up to the standards most movie goers have come to expect. Sometimes the actors aren’t that great. Or maybe the scenes/settings/backgrounds are a little off. Too often at least a couple of the Christian characters are simply odd or strange or different in a negative way. Sometimes, there’s even something about the lighting that looks fake. Bottom line—seldom does a faith-based flick have the $$$ backing it that other movies do. And it usually shows.

I know what you’re thinking. “She’s being waaaayyyy tooooo picky.”

I’m by no means what you’d call a movie buff. Ninety-nine percent of the time I haven’t a clue who the producer of any given film is. I often don’t know the names of the leading actors without the help of family members or the final credits. My focus is always on the story and the relationships and the emotions/message/thoughts that linger.

No, I wasn’t merely being picky. I simply wanted the movie to be so awesome that for once, critics and everyone else would have to admit that a faith-based movie had hit it out of the park.

We splurged on popcorn and waited through endless previews for the movie to begin. My anxiety slowly subsided as the story unfolded. It was not cheesy nor did it scream “B” movie, and I didn’t notice the off lighting thing either.you are not the mistakes

The actors fit the characters—the leading man was not “a stiff”. He simply wasn’t the typical swaggering, muscled, macho man we’re used to seeing in leading roles. Who knows? Maybe he was muscled but his clothes stayed on. Crazy, I know. What he did have was a past he was striving to learn from rather than repeat. And the very pretty leading lady? She had a past too as well as a lot of personality and spunk.

Sometime after my “B” movie angst had dissipated, another kind of anxiety swelled and my hands clutched the armrest. For several minutes I had no idea how the story would end. Would he…? Or maybe she would…?

Of course I’m not going to tell you how it ended except to note that a smattering of applause broke out as the credits rolled. I was one of those clapping for what many have called “a perfect ending.” I wish I could announce the theatre was packed, forcing us to sit too close to the screen. It wasn’t but I’m thrilled this Carmike Theatre chose to play “Old Fashioned”.

On the way to the car, I asked my husband about the “preacher hair” and “too long jeans”. His brow furrowed, and he shook his head. He didn’t find either statement to be true. “If that’s all they could find to pick on…” he murmured. Exactly. NOW who’s being picky???

It wasn’t a knock ‘em down, shoot ‘em up movie nor was it an other-worldly, fantastical epic. It was a story about real people forging their own path and taking a stand to move away from a damaging past. Now if that’s not a story a ton of people can identify with, i don’t know what is. It was an authentic romantic love story—the very kind of story that should premier on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Was it a homerun? In my book, YES. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

From a February 22 post on the “Old Fashioned” Facebook page –

Old Fashioned made a little box office history over the weekend. Already clearing $1 mil, it’s the biggest opening ever for a faith-based film (less than 300 screens). But, to me, the greater stories are the reports we’re hearing from all over the country from folks that (in addition to entertainment) are finding a measure of healing and hope and wholeness from the film… like the troubled couple that told me through tears of the film’s impact on them… or the 30 kids that got dressed up and drove over an hour because they want to believe that love can be about more than objectification… THIS is why we fought so hard to make this film and get it in theatres. Hearts matter…”

Yes, yes, yes, they do matter!

I’ll gladly watch it again, and I’m pretty sure I’ll buy the DVD when it comes out. I own two DVDs of movies that I really, really, really liked… and both of those were given to me as gifts. This one is a keeper for so many reasons.

LIKE their page. See the movie. Tell your friends.

Let’s send a loud, clear, strong message that we want and will support faith-based movies.

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Literary Geometry

I’m writing today about the awesomeness that is the love triangle. Ever since my grandma sat me on her lap and read Little Women, I’ve enjoyed a good love triangle, or tetrahedron, or–well any more than that, and it’s probably a hot mess. Ditto for one poorly done which happens more often than not. Although a poor love triangle does not a poor book make.

Little Women Cover

Scalene.

There are no even sides and often one angle is obtuse. That is it’s such a stretch it doesn’t make sense. I’m going to use heroine and two heroes since I think that’s most common. So this is girl meets up with two guys, one a really good choice and one really bad. No matter how this plays out, it’s a problem. Although making the wrong choice and having to live with the consequences to add some good drama. This is the stuff of good tragedies.

Isoceles.

Two sides are even and one is short. This is the majority of triangles. We know who the heroine is going to end up with, but there’s enough tension between the two angles with the short side, it’s not a total bore. Typically, the wrong pair come together for a time but then it doesn’t work out and the heroine ends up with her true love. Formulaic, yes but it can be done well. It’s best done when either off screen or in the first few chapters the heroine is with the wrong guy and the hero comes in and rescues her. The remainder of the story doesn’t even have a triangle. Although sometimes wrong guy comes back to mess with the even sides. This is pretty much the formula for many a romance novel.

Equilateral.

Now this is literary gold. There’s a heroine with two equally great choices. Better yet if they’re both great guys but completely different. The best love triangle I have ever read falls into this category, Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices. [Disclaimer–this is not a Christian book. It’s mostly clean but there are a couple of objectionable scenes.] I’m not going to spoil it but you need to read about halfway through book 2 to even realize there’s a love triangle. I  read the synopses (which are spoilerish) and wondered how there could even be a triangle when there was an obvious couple. Let alone for me to gain sympathy for the second pairing when I was so in love with the first one. The author brought it! Did she ever.

Infernal Devices

Other Geometries.

Sometimes there’s more than one option. Take Little Women. There are four sisters and one handsome next door neighbor, Laurie (Theodore Laurence). One of the few love stories with more than four sides that works. I think many people who read Little Women are surprised and disappointed by who Laurie marries. For me, probably because I was young, and in many ways his choice is my favorite character, I was satisfied with the outcome. I also recommend Little Men and Jo’s Boys to see how truly right Louisa May Alcott was when crafting her story. Then again, it’s quasi-autobiographical, so she drew upon reality.

Two more Alcott books I love are Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. In Rose in Bloom, Rose returns to be with her eight male cousins as a young woman. While several of the cousins are too young, four of them are candidates to win Rose’s heart. Various circumstances narrow the pool until she ends up with one of the cousins. Never mind the ick factor of first cousins pairing up, this is one of my favorite love stories.

Rose in Bloom

What is your favorite love story? And what geometry does it take?

Fay Lamb takes us behind the scenes of the new Valentine Novella, A Dozen Apologies

A DOZEN APOLOGIES 2Vanessa Morton writes:   I am thrilled to present Part One of my interview with the Fabulous Fay Lamb, contributing author of the new Valentine novella, A Dozen Apologies.

(Come back on Friday (1/31/14) when Fay talks to us about her writing life and recent projects.)

Today, Fay is taking us behind the scenes of A Dozen Apologies, a fascinating chapter book about Mara and twelve men (heroes) in her life.

Fay, thanks for visiting our site today and staying with us to answer readers’ questions after the interview. Let’s get started!

VM: You collaborated with eleven authors to write A Dozen Apologies. Each week day, Write Integrity is releasing a new chapter by a different author. How did you come up with this concept?

Fay: I share a little about this on my blog, but I have had the pleasure of being a part of three of the four Write Integrity Press collaborative novella projects, and I believe our editor, Tracy Ruckman, has found a niche. After the first project, Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt in 2012 and as we were working on the 2013 project, A Ruby Christmas, I wanted to provide Tracy with an idea for Valentine’s Day. I kept imagining that old board game, The Mystery Date Game. I envisioned a heroine with all of the guys and she needed to choose from them. I have to confess, I also thought of a calendar of heroes. The problem was, a gal with twelve guys usually doesn’t a heroine make. I had to give her a reason for finding each of these guys. Then I realized that Mara had to have a past, and well, her past wasn’t too pretty. She was a terror to these men, and when God allows Mara to reap what she’d sown, she realizes that each of these men deserve an in-person, heart-felt apology, and well, if she fell in love with one of them in the process—that a love story makes.

Mystery Date Game–you’re so clever! How does a diverse group of talented writers give Mara–the main character–a consistent voice and work together toward the ending?

This is something that Tracy and each author who have worked on the three of the four projects centering around a single heroine have wondered. I believe that it starts first with the God-centered message. Each of the Write Integrity Press novellas present a very Biblical message. We also wrap the story in prayer. Then it starts with a very clear heroine and what her journey is about. For Mara, I saw her as out of her element when she hits a low point in her life. She’s a klutz, always running into problems either through her own ineptness or with the help of others, and as Mara grows, you see that through her bumbling and fumbling, God has given her a heart of mercy and grace—the same mercy and grace that she is seeking. As the authors began to work on the stories, just about all of them seemed to come to the conclusion that the problem with Mara, the reason she behaved so atrociously, was due to the fact that she had always been out of her element, not just after her downfall, but maybe even her entire life. With that in mind, Mara seemed to gel for each of us, and as I read chapter after chapter, I was again amazed at how God blended the story together, this time using twelve different pens (or computers).

Tell us more about Mara and what happens to her in your chapter.

Oh, I can’t share about my hero chapter because that’s top secret. You see, after the readers meet each of the heroes from the story (and from interviews posted on my blog On the Ledge), they will get the opportunity to vote for their favorite hero. That hero is the one who will win Mara’s heart and get the last chapter. Voting begins February 5 and ends February 8. On February 9, On the Ledge will begin to spotlight some or all of the authors with their heroes. From the very start of this concept, the authors agreed that the voting should be about the heroes. We also didn’t want to make it a “political” campaign or a popularity contest among the writers. We felt that this would lessen the impact of the story. When one of our authors (wave to Deb Ullrick) suggested the chapter authors remain anonymous, we felt that was a stroke of genius. On February 14 the readers can read the winning heroes chapter because the novella will be offered for free on Kindle through February 16.

I can tell you that Mara stays mainly in the South. Her longest journey takes her to Colorado, but she meets twelve interesting fellows from diverse backgrounds with compelling stories of their own, and well, she makes a mess of most jobs she works. I promise laughter and quite possibly some tears … Our editor told us she cried. We love to make Tracy cry … and laugh. That means we’ve done our job.

Fay, we appreciate you visiting our blog today and look forward to meeting again this Friday.

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Dear readers, before we tell you how to vote for your favorite hero and get a free copy of A Dozen Apologies, we wanted to share Fay’s contact information:

Fay LambFay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

Write Integrity Press (http://writeintegrity.blogspot.com/)  is releasing a new chapter of A Dozen Apologies each week day up to February 5, after which you can start voting for your favorite hero. Your votes will determine how the book ends! On February 14 through 16, the completed novella, including the last chapter, featuring the “winning” hero, will be offered free on Amazon Kindle.

Fay will be standing by to answer your questions today. Even if you don’t have questions, take a moment to let Fay know what type of hero / heroine / adventure you’d like to see in future chapter books. Let your voice be heard!

Thanksgiving, Romance, and a Book Giveaway

At my house, Thanksgiving includes a remembrance of my husband’s Mayflower ancestors, Priscilla Mullins and John Alden. The venerable Myles Standish also tried to court Priscilla, but I’d like to think she chose love over status when she married John, the Mayflower’s cooper. If I found myself in Priscilla’s rustic kitchen sipping hot tea, I’d ask her to tell me the real reason.

 

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1620 is not that long ago, and I can easily empathize with Priscilla. 

For those romantic couples who lived two thousand years ago, however, I’ll need a little help, like several candid photographs (in living color thank you very much).

In the absence of photos, I rely on authors who write fiction that breathes, such as Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti:A Novel. See my complete review
here.

 

Equal part passion and tragedy describes the marriage of Nefertiti and Akhenaten. Nefertiti’s museum bust is beautiful, but I yearn to see her gown ripple in the evening breeze, as she and her husband stroll the gardens and plot to undermine the priesthood. If you found yourself on the royal barge sailing the Nile, what would you ask her?

 

These are more of my faves, but feel free to add any others who pre-date the Middle Ages:


Antony and Cleopatra (Roman/Egyptian)

Emperor Justinian and his former-courtesan wife, Theodora (Greek)

Abraham and his childless wife, Sarah (Jewish)

Comment and tell me your favorite ancient romance. You can also send me those burning questions you’ve always wanted to ask one of these ladies!                                .

We may find they are not much different from us after all!

Vote and/or submit your questions through November 18th, and I’ll put your name in the hat to win Nefertiti: A Novel. If you share or tweet this blog, your name goes in twice.

One lucky winner will be drawn from the hat on November 18th and will receive a digital copy of Nefertiti: A Novel.

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