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Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Priceless (10/14/2016)


Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving human trafficking, and some violence.

Staring Joel Smallbone, David Koechner, Bianca A. Santos and Jim Parrack

Directed by Ben Smallbone


Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Dynamic ImageI’m so encouraged by “Christian” films like this one.

Desperately in need of money in hopes of regaining custody of his daughter, James (Joel Smallbone) embarks on a cross-country delivery for cash-no questions asked. But when he discovers what he is delivering is actually who, the questions in his mind begin haunting him mercilessly. James becomes an unlikely hero and must fight to save the innocence and lives of the two young women. One of which he finds himself falling in love with.

I’ve been a big fan of For King and Country since their first CD released in 2012. I’ve had the rare occasion of spending time with Joel and Luke and believe me when I say they are the real deal. They have made some amazing music and really know how to entertain an audience. In December 2012, iTunes selected Crave as their Breakthrough Christian & Gospel Album of 2012. And at the first K-LOVE Fan Awards in 2013 they collected the "Breakthrough Artist of the Year." Then in 2015, they won two Grammy Awards, one for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and one for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. They have even performed on national morning shows and Jimmy Fallon. In short these brothers are crazy talented, but when I heard they were making a movie the one question remained, can they act?

The film stars only one of the brothers, Joel Smallbone, and surprisingly yes, he can act. Not only can he act, but he was able to carry the film. Throw in David Koechner and Jim Parrack and you have a pretty decent cast. Just a quick note on David Koechner. He has made a career playing the over-the-top inappropriate wild man in movies like Anchorman and on TV’s The Office. So to see him as a serious character with a strong moral compass was refreshing.

The film is directed by Ben Smallbone, Joel and Luke’s older brother…and also brother to Rebecca St. James. He may not have the most experience, but he did a great job of telling a compelling story with strong characters. He also kept the pace moving at a seamless tempo.

So let’s talk about the story for a minute. Most “Christian” films clean-up and sanitize the ugly side of life even if the ugly side of life is the plot of the film. So when I heard the film was about human trafficking I thought, maybe I should just watch Taken for the 20th time…I’m still working on developing “those certain skills.” Instead Ben shows James’ flaws. He decides to show him drinking, fighting and doing other less-than-perfect behavior. The reason I appreciate those darker scenes is because this is a story about redemption and rescue. And the redemption story is stronger when you see how low he was.

Finally, I appreciate how they were able to stay away from all the Christian clichés. There is a powerful message in the film, but we get to see it instead of having it preached at us.

I would definitely take students to see this film, it’s “Theater Worthy.”


SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
The film covers some mature themes like death, abuse, prostitution and human trafficking which may be too much for some viewers.


CONVERSATION STARTER:
  1. When is the first time we see James question what he’s doing?

  2. As he wrestles with “doing the right thing,” who helps him make the right decisions?

  3. When you wrestle with “doing the right thing,” who helps you make the right decisions?

  4. Read Proverbs 11:14

      Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

    Read Also Proverbs 19:20:

      Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

  5. Who can you ask for advice when you need it?





Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.



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