Monday, August 15, 2005

Mo' Movies overview from Mo' Boy!

On one of my email lists, someone started talking about Mormon movies, and, of course, regretted it almost immediately. It made me think of all the shows I’ve seen, and which ones I liked the best. So, I listed them, and ranked them. I thought it was interesting to see just how many of them I have seen. That’s really quite a list. While I’m sure there are more, the only two that I’ve missed that I can think of are “Handcart” and “The Work and the Story”

I list these in order that I liked them. Now, I need to clarify that. What I mean is NOT “Which movie is the best crafted work of cinematic art?” What I mean IS “Which movies entertained me/made me think/made me laugh/made me feel the most?”

It’s also interesting to note that, on some level, I enjoyed almost all of them. Really all the way down through number 13, I had a good time at the shows. In fact, it got really hard to rank them from 9 to 13.

1. Brigham City – It helped me rethink the nature of forgiveness and the atonement. That makes it great art, in my book
2. Sons of Provo – It helped me remember why I make music for Mormons. And it made me laugh more than most Hollywood movies even do.
3. The Best Two Years – A great balance of smiles and testimony, in a package that wasn’t hokey.
4. Saints and Soldiers – This one made me rethink a lot of things, like the nature of war and enemies, self-forgiveness, and the purpose of life. Also great art.
5. The Singles Ward – Made me laugh a lot. A LOT!
6. God’s Army
7. The RM – A fun movie, and the best soundtrack album of all of them. Except maybe “Provo”…
8. Charly – I didn’t think I’d like this one, but I did. It was formula, but good formula.
9. The Other Side of Heaven – For all its big budget, I wasn’t as impressed. The big Hollywood boys that have been slamming the low budget mo’ movies took on a project and made a good movie that just wasn’t as fun or meaningful to me as what the little guys had done.
10. Out of Step – A sleeper that deserved more recognition than it got.
11. Baptists At Our Barbecue – The book was great, the movie was fun.
12. Pride and Prejudice – Pretty good for a chick flick.
13. The Home Teachers – A fun escapist movie that didn’t really hold up to repeat viewings like the other Halestorms.
14. The Work and the Glory – Meh
15. The Book of Mormon Movie – Not intended to be a comedy, but people in the theatre where I saw it were laughing anyway. I just felt sad.

I also heard it said once that there haven’t been any Mormon chick flicks. Hello! I beg to differ. Charly, Out of Step, Baptists at our Barbecue, and Pride and Prejudice all were, in my opinion, chick flicks, or at least good date movies. We don’t seem to have any Mormon action/adventure movies yet, and the horror genre also seems to be a little thin. I, personally, don’t like horror movies, so that’s not at all a problem for me.

It’s also interesting to me that a lot of people think that all of our movies are missionary-based, but on this list, there’s only 3. 4, if you count “The RM”.

When I got to go to the LDSBA show the other day, I saw promo swag for a whole bunch of new shows about to be released, and I’m very excited about them. “Mobsters and Mormons” (which is NOT a movie based on the “Mafia to Mormon” book) is one of them. Written and directed by John Moyer (who I got to meet!), the writer of “The RM” and “The Singles Ward”.

We’ve had a slower year so far this year. Not so many movies came out. There are quite a few set to drop over the next few months, so I’ll keep you posted.

Mark Hansen


  1. 1. Napoleon Dynamite - awesome. weird, but awesome.
    2. Brigham City - well shot, well acted, and well written
    3. The Work and the Glory - not fantastic, but the acting and directing was decent
    4. God's Army - interesting and decently acted
    5. Other Side of Heaven - didn't really feel like as big of a budget movie as it was
    6. Charly - cheesy, the guy nicknamed "Utah" was pretty weak, but Heather Beers was great
    7. Baptists at Our Barbeque - I actually thought this was funny in a "Raising Arizona" kind of way
    8. The R.M. - I'd say its a tie between this one and Singles Ward
    9. Singles Ward - the first two Halestorm's were amusing but very stupid, you have to suspend intellect to enjoy, but sometimes its OK to do that
    10. The Home Teachers - the worst of the lot, and will hopefully never be topped for it horribleness. This one requires to much brain-suspension to like. Its a complete rip-off of Tommy Boy (Kurt Hale actually said that himself in the making of... featurette on the DVD) and the worst part is that the characters were forced to make the stupidest choices of all time in order to wrangle themselves into slapstick scenarios a la Tommy Boy. This is the only movie that we actually were annoyed at and couldn't find a way to enjoy.

    Haven't seen yet:
    * Saints and Soldiers - from reports, this will probably go high up on my list. Its in my mail-order DVD queue right now.
    * Book of Mormon Movie - I don't ever plan on seeing it. I don't want its (laughable?)images to be in my mind when I read the real scriptures.
    * Out of Step - don't know if I'll ever see it. Its not in any video stores or online rental, and I'm not going to buy it without seeing it.
    * Best Two Years - I'm optimistic about this one. Can't rent it here either.
    * Pride and Prejudice - Can't find this one to rent either.
    * Sons of Provo - eh, I don't care if I see it or not.
    * The Work and the Story - Another "eh". I don't expect them to be entertaining to me, I just want to see them out of curiosity.

    I think States of Grace looks very good (God's Army 2). I read the script for Mobsters and Mormons, as well as Church Ball, and I'm not expecting much better than the RM or Singles Ward. Here's to hoping I'm pleasantly surprised.


  2. I loved Napoleon Dynamite, especailly watching it with my teens. It was a great New Years Eve rent.

    Liked Brigham City, Ok..

    Gods army.. bothered me.

    Baptists at our barbeque was funny!

    Thanks for your thoughts Mark.

  3. If you ever check out ldsfilm, you'll find some movies that are disturbing in that there are Mormon themes but decidedly not favorable. I'm glad to see more positive movies come out to cast a better (and more accurate) light on the faith.

    I like what Dutcher has put out thus far. I think Halestorm is formulaic. A couple movies were good the rest made me cringe with their overkill of cultural guffaws.

  4. So Clay says... "I read the script for Mobsters and Mormons, as well as Church Ball, and I'm not expecting much better than the RM or Singles Ward."

    Ouch! And here I thought I was getting honest feedback from someone reading my script when they offered me kudos and told me they really liked it. Oh well.



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