Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Two Mo’ Movies

Sons of Provo at our Barbecue

My lovely wife, over the New Year’s Holiday weekend, took me to see a couple of LDS movies. It started the eve of New Year’s Eve, at the Provo First Night film festival. I finally got to SEE the Sons of Provo movie. I say it that way, because I’ve had the soundtrack CD for a long time. The movie is scheduled to be released on six screens in Utah the first weekend in February.

It’s been a long, long time since I laughed at a movie as much or as hard as I did when I was watching this one. So, say what you will about budget, production quality, acting, and and etc… The bottom line is—it was funny! I was laughing almost every minute throughout the show.

The story revolves around Everclean, a three-member LDS boy band, and their struggles to make and promote their art. It stars Will Swenson (the lead from “The Singles Ward”), Kirby Heybourne (the lead from “The RM”), and Danny Tarasevich (a name I didn’t recognize). It’s done in a documentary style, showing more than a subtle homage to “Spinal Tap”.

Beyond just having a great time, I related to it on a lot of different levels:

As a musician: I've played gigs like these, and had these kinds of disasters. I've seen and, unfortunately, done almost every stupid mistake they made.

As a Mormon: There were sooo many LDS cultural and pop culture references. Kirby Heybourne’s character works in a scrapbooking store. And for a guy to do that is, in itself, funny, but he plays it to the hilt. "Scrapbooking is my calling," reads a poster on his wall.

After the screening, there was a Q&A period with one of the producers, and I was surprised to learn that this show has played very well in predominantly NON-LDS film festivals, winning awards at almost all of them. I would have thought that the inside jokes would’ve precluded that.

As a Mormon musician: Been there, done that! In a way, it was humbling, because it showed me some of the pitfalls that can be dangerous if you’re doing spiritual music. It can lead you to frightening self-righteousness and controlling vision, if you’re not careful, or not well-grounded yourself.

The real star of the show, in my opinion was the music itself. It was written mostly by Will Swenson, along with a number of other solid names in the local LDS music scene. Mostly produced by Jennie Jordan Frogley, who was also instrumental (pardon the pun) in producing Jericho Road. So, she was kind of parodying herself…

The music was interesting on a couple of levels, too. On the one hand, it shows just how easy it is to fall into the trap of writing bad, preachy, judgmental, “spirchal” songs. In this, these were masterpieces of intentional badness.

I also found it interesting to note that (and I think I’ve blogged about this before) the tracks themselves were produced with more vigor and strength than JR was. So, I found the parody to actually be better, stronger, hipper than the original. What’s wrong with this picture?

So, when it opens, this is one that I recommend.

The other show we saw was Baptists at Our Barbecue. I liked this one as well, but not as much. It was a fun show, but not as laugh-out-loud funny. Having read the book, there weren’t any real surprises. Still I thought the plot progressed nicely and I wasn’t torn away from the “reality” by production problems or acting.

The characters in the little town were sure a lot of fun. It kinda reminded me of “Northern Exposure”, where an outsider is introduced to a quirky collection of misfits that have somehow managed to fit together for a long time.

I’d also recommend this one, but frankly, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. I didn’t connect with it like I did with “Sons”. But I liked it more than I did “Charly”.

Anyway. A couple of good movies to check out.

Mark Hansen

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen either of these, but my husband and I watched 'The Two Best Years' also with Kirby Heybourne. It was pretty funny, and my husband assures me pretty accurate to serving a European mission!!



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