Here are more paragraphs from recently published Christian film reviews. Get out your red pen and respond in the comments section.

Remember, the goal here is to emphasize the need for better film writing, not to ridicule anybody or put down any particular online review site.

The first ste of excerpts is from a new review of Sideways. I won’t say who wrote it. I won’t say who published it. I’ll just say it proved very difficult to read because I kept wanting to wake up the editor.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

The universe in which Alexander Payne films tend to exist in a little bubble of truth. They are heartfelt, comedic, hopeful and tragic—often at the same time. The first of his films I encountered was the dark comedy Election; second being About Schmidt. Now my history with this very talented filmmaker has expanded to Sideways, a coming of age story for old people.

And after the routine plot description, here’s the review’s home-stretch:

The story here is a quiet one. It doesn’t seek to be anything deeper than what it is, and that in and of itself makes it all the more resonating. None of the characters do anything that cries out as a false move. Jack’s womanizing is despicable to a fault, but he’s just so likeable that you can’t help but liking him for it. Thomas Haden Church, who is still largely unknown—save for his role on Wings (and to more astute viewers he is the embodiment of ignorance in George of the Jungle as Lyle)—is a great asset to this film. Other well-known actors including George Clooney wanted the part, but Payne was wise in going with someone recognizable but largely unknown. It lends a hand in his has-been status as an actor.

Paul Giamatti is the movie’s new everyman, in that he looks like it. He has a good self-pitying quality to him. He’s not hard to love either as his Miles cries out for a hug, though he doesn’t have it as bad as he makes it out to be. Throughout the film, he grows as a man. Change is capable, even in your 40’s, and Giamatti is one of the few actors out there that can make a statement like that and make us believe.

The two women, Sandra Oh as Stephanie and Virginia Madsen as Maya, are quite enticing. They embody strong independent women but are still sensitive enough to see the good traits in both the men they get involved with. I guess you could say that this a film about the performances than the story itself, but I think in discussing the characters you hopefully get a sense of how well-written and thought out the script by Alexander Payne and writing partner Jim Taylor is (working from a novel written by Rex Pickett). They have a good ear for dialogue, never betraying the characters for an interesting plot point.

The story is shot deftly and simply. There is a sequence of the four characters sitting against the setting sun in the hills—very beautiful to behold. Payne is an expert filmmaker. I didn’t mind About Schmidt, although it was a little too meandering (then again it’s about a guy in a Winnebago). Not so here. He creates the right pace for the story. Needless to say a movie like this seems to only come around once every few years.

There are problems from Sentence #1, obviously. There are little flubs like “Change is capable.” Some sentences are just painful: “He’s just so likeable that you can’t help but liking him for it.”

What else do you see?

Okay, Round Two.

Here’s an excerpt from a recently published review of The Incredibles.

One of the most powerful mediums in Hollywood recently has been animation. Starting awhile back, from Titan AE to The Iron Giant, animation has been used to tell powerful stories that are filled with spiritual and moral themes. We have seen the medium cross over from children to adults with these films and the likes of the Shrek films. Now, new from one of the founders in the style, is The Incredibles, and to say the least, this movie is simply INCREDIBLE! I don’t recall the last time I have had so much fun at the movies as I did at my screening of The Incredibles. The concept blends computer animation and comic-book-hero scenarios to come up with a wonderful, thought-provoking story. The Incredibles takes on the political correctness of today and slams it through the door with the velocity that some of us have been yearning for, for quite some time.

Whoo, boy. Off to a rough start. Here’s some more.

It doesn’t stop there though, from Holly Hunter to Samuel L. Jackson, you could say this story is star-powered.

The story starts out with the superheroes doing what most superheroes do: saving people and things. Along the way, Mr. Incredible saves an individual who was attempting suicide, but there was some property damage and also that individual sues Mr. Incredible for an injury he received. That opens up the door for all kinds of law suits, and the heroes just can’t keep up. As a result the court systems ban all superheroes from using their gifts and talents and force them into obscurity.

Now just in that paragraph is a huge sampling of issues that are addressed in this movie from a social perspective. There are these and more, but thankfully the movie instead focuses more on the love of family and the need for people to do what they are called to do in order to have fulfillment and purpose. For many, this is the concept that we are all gifted in some way, and we ought to be using those gifts to better society. Only when using those gifts, will we be fulfilled and will our families be fulfilled.

I’ll stop there. Any editors looking for some exercise? You might want to play the sleuth, find the sites that published these reviews, and volunteer your talents.

Or, you could always edit some of MY reviews. I can always use the help.

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