Movie Review: Second Glance & Lay It Down
By Donald James Parker
I'm going to do something different in this review. Normally I take a peek at one full-length movie. Today I'm going to do two short movies. Neither of these are blockbusters, but both have relevant messages for the young people of today. If you're a parent of teens and pre-teens, these might be good investments for you.
Second Glance, produced by Rich Christiano (one of two movie-producing brothers), stars David R. White. I've already gushed about David's talents in previous reviews. Lance Zitron is another strong actor, who I'd really like to see more of. Denise Weatherly, Robert Kuns, and Blaine Pickett are the other prominent actors. The main setting is a high school with a big party scene adding realism. Since most of my writing involves teens and school, and I was a school teacher, I could relate to and appreciate this ambience, especially the second time through.
This story brings back memories of It's a Wonderful Life. The wish by the hero in this case is not that he was never born, but rather that he had never been born again. The wish is granted, and Danny is a new boy (though he retains memories of his old life, which is a little troublesome, but George Bailey got away with it). Our hero doesn't have to jump into a freezing river to save an angel, but there is indeed a human-looking angel in this one (who speaks a bit like Humphrey Bogart). Danny is freed from the shackles of his beliefs and inhibitions, allowing him to be the life of the party. Despite his perspective that he wasn't having an effect on peoples' lives, he gets a chance to see how much impact his faith really had. This is one of the better Christian movies I've watched. The plot is not original, but as Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. It's only 50 minutes long. The only potentially big problem I saw here was a sermon delivered by the angel after Danny has learned his lesson. The purpose of the action and dialogue in a Christian movie of this type should be to deliver the sermon in a way that preaching can never accomplish. Adding a real sermon to the end diluted the viewing experience for me, but perhaps the redundancy will be impactful for some who didn't quite get the message.
Lay It Down is a story about young people and street racing. There are some interesting and surreal special effects and camera shots in this one. Unfortunately, if the effect you are trying to present is realism, that kind of sideshow may detract from the overall impact. I haven't decided if it was a plus or a minus. On the other hand it provides a foreshadowing of tragedy, which is easier to understand the second time through. On my first viewing of this movie, I found it hard to get pulled in. On my second pass, I experienced the raw emotion that provided almost a steady diet of tension in this 50-minute flick. If you like in-your-face confrontations with only a modicum of actual violence, this one will provide your recommended daily dosage. I've never seen any of the actors in this movie before. The younger brother steals the show in my opinion (though his brother is the protagonist). He looks like he was born for the black leather jacket he's usually wearing, reminding me of cross between Elvis Presley and James Dean.
The messages in this movie are clear: street racing kills and Jesus saves. Clearly the question "What would Jesus do?" will cause a Christian to understand that there might not be a commandment in the Bible against street racing, but the spirit of God's law indicates we don't break man-made laws or put other people's lives in jeopardy for a thrill. (See my TCP article from two weeks ago that addressed the thrill and chill factor in entertainment.) Is this movie effective at what it tries to accomplish? It's hard for me to judge. This was a definite case of preaching to the choir. The proof would come in seeing the reaction of either a believer who participates either as a racer or even a spectator at such events or of a non-believer, whether involved in racing or not. Salvation is an important key to the message of this movie. This portrayal might be enough to jolt people out of their comfort zones and make them start thinking of eternal things. This could be a life changing movie for some.
About the author: Donald James Parker is a novelist and computer programmer who resides in Puyallup, Washington. Check out his website at www.donaldjamesparker.com