Netflix A-Z: Grace Unplugged (2013)

We’re back with the letter G in our Netflix selection.  I had to make a little switch because the original choice was The Great Gatsby and I’m trying to not have overlapping genre and The Great Gatsby is very much a romance which I just did in The Fault in Our Stars.  I don’t frequently make these changes and they shouldn’t occur again since I gave a quick look over the first round of Netflix A-Z remaining.  G had some choices, but I ended up choosing a smaller movie because The Fault in our Stars was a pretty known and popular choice.  Netflix has a lot of hidden gems so part of this is to try and dig those out.  My choice is Grace Unplugged. No idea what its about but it said inspirational and music and I like both of these sorts of movies.  I’m kind of a sucker for them.

Let’s check it out!

Grace Unplugged (2013)

Grace Unplugged

Director: Brad J. Silverman

Cast: AJ Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollak, Shawnee Smith, Michael Welch, Zane Holtz

Grace Trey is the ideal Christian teen who is also a phenomenal singer. But at the tender age of eighteen, after she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the “real world” – her faith is put to the test. – IMDB

Just in case you happened to land on my blog and reading this and I don’t dive in my religious beliefs, I’m not Christian.  I have no religion but I believe that there is a higher force.  What it is, I don’t know yet.  But I respect different religions and I have family that are Christians.  But to me, religion is really a belief and putting your faith in someone.  You can disagree, its fine.  I’m not here to disagree but that is what I’m saying is that even if you aren’t Christian, you can understand a movie like this one, Grace Unplugged.  There is not other way than to make these movies formulaic but for whatever reason, not even Grace discovering that she really was just lost in her faith and beliefs, it touched me.  Grace UnpluggedOne of the contributing factors of what makes Grace Unplugged engaging to watch is the very good cast.  I don’t know a whole lot of the cast in other movies, except for Kevin Pollak and Zane Holtz who both play a supporting role and Shawnee Smith and James Denton look incredibly familiar.  Oh, and who can forget Michael Welch who was in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.  Regardless, they all held cliche but convincingly good roles.  AJ Michalka plays Grace Trey who wants to be more than just the sidekick of her father in their church band.  She wants the world to know her ability and that she is more than the shadow under her father who was a one hit wonder who lost his path to drugs and alcohol back in the days and then fell out of the music business.  She wants to prove that she can do more and share her talent with the world.  Its a journey to like Grace’s character and that is all because of how the character is developed.  Like I said, it is a very formulaic sort of inspirational story for her but Grace starts off as a girl who is naive and doesn’t know much in the world and somewhat spoiled and stubborn is anything and she can be frustrating to watch but as you watch her character grow, even if it might be a little rushed and the turnpoint is not even complicated, she does grow and becomes someone we want to root for.

Grace Unplugged

As her parents roles, we have her father, John played by James Denton who plays a much more important supporting role.  Mom, Michelle is played by Shawnee Smith.  Mom plays a much smaller role in this movie than the father figure and just his influence to Grace.  In a way, I think this movie meant a little more to me because of the father-daughter relationship it had. I guess it brought back some feelings I had as I was growing up.  Let me tell you, the father daughter chemistry here is done pretty well and it convinced me enough that it made me a little emotional about the whole thing and I even got a little misty, no tears but just watery eyes, you know.

Aside from the characters being formed by a strong cast, Grace Unplugged has many good themes embedded in it. While it looks like a movie about belief and faith (for Christians) and its about being inspirational, there are themes of a family, authority and just dealing with all the issues we have in a coming of age story.  It forces in a little side story about love and the values of the music business.  Deal is: its about finding yourself and that is the true message in this movie.  Its finding who you are and not the value that other perceive you as and being true to who you want to be regardless of anything else.

Am I saying Grace Unplugged is perfect? No.  I’m just saying that its a decent inspirational movie with some good music that carries an effective message. Plus, its about finding where you belong in many ways and having the courage to face who you are and where your beliefs/faith lie. For me, the family angle was the most inspirational part of Grace Unplugged.  Sure, its a little cliche and follows a very simple formula that most inspirational/music/religious movies might follow but this one carries very good and believable performances that worked for me. I definitely think its worth a chance 🙂

Have you seen Grace Unplugged? Do you enjoy watching music-related and/or inspirational movies?

Any guesses for the H selection? Think adaptations from a novel.

TV Binge: From Dusk Till Dawn (Season 1)

Let’s get back to a proper TV binge! I’ve been meaning to watch From Dusk Till Dawn since it was released on Netflix but I can’t remember what made me put it aside for a while.  But then, my life last year was revolved around a lot of procrastination.  You’ll be seeing a lot of catching up on TV this year.

From Dusk Till Dawn is based on the movie written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez.  I haven’t seen that one as it expired from Netflix a few months ago and I never got around to seeing it.  Hopefully I’ll see it one day.  If you have seen it, did you like it?

From Dusk Till Dawn (Season 1)

from dusk till dawn TV

Creator: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Wilmer Valderrama, Jesse Garcia, Eiza Gonzalez, Madison Davenport, Brandon Soo Hoo, Robert Patrick

The Gecko Brothers, Seth and Richard are back and they just robbed a bank of $30 million of bearer bonds.  They need to make their way across the border to Mexico where they will meet up with Carlos who will reward them with a chance to El Rey.  However, due to the younger brother, Richard’s visions causing his mental instability, they end up hitting a few snags.  This leads them to have Sheriff department’s office, Freddie Gonzalez to go rogue and be hot on their trail and eventually joining with an ex-pastor, Jacob Fuller and his daughter, Katie and adopted son, Scott who are taking a family trip away as they become their captives.

from dusk till dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn has a ten episode Season 1 run on Netflix.  There are some good and bad things about this one.  Overall, I definitely enjoyed watching it because the concept and the ideas are really creative and I like their take of vampires and mixing in some, what I think is, Mexican gods/goddesses.  Its definitely different and so much more cool than say, the bottom of the barrel and sparkling vampires.  You know, just saying…  Plus, the season is pretty much split into two parts.  The first part is about the Gecko brothers escaping to Mexico and the reveal of everyone’s problems and just building up the stories so we understand the characters better, especially when there’s technically 4 simultaneous stories going on which eventually converge together as we head into the second part which is when things really go bad and its the reveal of the vampires here.

from dusk till dawn

The story itself might be where it falls short a little.  I can’t quite pinpoint what didn’t work so well but I knew that there were moments where I didn’t really care much for what would happen next.  The plot seemed to be a little inconsistent in pace.  At times, it would reel me in and I’d want to know what was going on, probably because certain characters had more meaningful development and connection than others, whereas other times, I just couldn’t wait for the episode to end so that I could close it and watch it again.  The latter occurred more in the first part.  The second part was a lot more intense and fast paced and made this a little more memorable and fun. Except the character of Santanico drove me crazy because this actress overemphasized too much on how she talked.  It got REALLY annoying.

from dusk till dawn

Overall, From Dusk Till Dawn isn’t any time spectacular but it does have a lot of good moments.  There are some characters that I did connect and start liking their development and the whole premise was creative and a refreshing take (because I never saw the original, I guess).  The cast does a fine job with what they have and the second half is a lot stronger than the first part of the series.  Still, I look forward to seeing what From Dusk Till Dawn whips up for the second season, which is supposed to air in late summer of 2015. Consider me slightly excited for it 🙂

Have you seen this series, From Dusk Till Dawn? Did you see the movie in 1996? If you did, how do they compare?