Sunday SchoolStarring: Nathalie Merchant, Jerome Hawkins
Directed By: Marcello Thedford
Written By: Alda Rodriguez
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 1 Hour 37 Minutes
Rated PG-13 for Brief Drug Content
Plot: A young woman staying with her grandmother reluctantly agrees to go to church, but once she’s there, she meets an attractive pastor…and his ruthless ex-girlfriend.

Click here to view the trailer for this movie. (The trailer contains some mild language.)

LANCE’S TAKE: EXODUS

Sunday School makes the third or fourth film Mary and I have watched from Maverick Entertainment, and after panning their other movies, we were dreading the thought of having to sit through this one.

Now, I must say that this effort was better than the others we’ve seen (like Only God Can Judge Me and Living Water), and its story exceeded my expectations by quite a bit.

But, it still wasn’t good.

Although the story itself was halfway decent and mostly interesting, the characters were pretty flat and it was hard to really care about them.

And naturally, since two of the characters are brothers in the ministry and a bulk of the movie plays out in church, you can expect lots of sermonizing. Surprisingly, it didn’t bog the story down too much, but it’s still blatantly obvious.

There were a few solid one-liners scattered throughout the script, but regardless, the dialogue could’ve used a lot of work. There were several times where Mary and I had to pause the movie and discuss what we’d just seen to make sure we were understanding the characters right. We didn’t know if the writer was digging plot holes into the script to make sure we were paying attention, or if the numerous confusing situations were by accident, or if was all due to sloppy editing.

Whatever the case, it wasn’t quality work.

Then there’s the ending, which was probably one of the biggest cop outs I’ve ever seen. Even by predictable Christian movie standards, this was just flat out bad.

As for the acting, it was okay, and was actually better than several other Christian films we’ve seen shot on a shoestring budget. There were moments when the acting was over-the-top and unbelievable, but overall, it was one of the least of this movie’s problems.

On the technical side, the camera work and editing were pretty shoddy. Almost all of the establishing shots were overexposed to the point where you’d almost need sunglasses to see them, and there were plenty of shots that were so close to the actors’ faces you could practically count their individual nose hairs. The editing didn’t help matters either, with its awkward fades and unnecessary flashback cuts. I don’t know why so many filmmakers use rapid cuts to show us scenes that we’ve already watched earlier in the film. It normally doesn’t drive the story forward or heighten the emotional impact in the current scene, so why use them?

But, the biggest complaint I have about Sunday School is the horrible audio quality. During the entire movie, the sound goes from almost completely silent to blisteringly loud in a matter of milliseconds and then back again. It gets so loud, in fact, that it distorts and makes you think something’s wrong with your speakers. There are countless scenes that sound as if one or two actors are wearing mics and the filmmakers relied on those one or two mics to pick up everyone’s audio, even if there were seven or eight people in the shot.

And yes, I did say that this was one of the better movies we’ve seen from Maverick Entertainment. I’m really not sure what the problem is, but from what I can tell, it looks like their films are done in an incredible hurry and with little to no money. Whatever the reason, they’re prime examples of how to keep people from taking you seriously as a filmmaker.

Needless to say, you should just stay home from Sunday School. It gets a lofty “Exodus” from me.

MARY’S TAKE: EXODUS

Lance and I have watched a few films released by Maverick Entertainment, so when I found out they were the ones responsible for Sunday School, I wasn’t too eager to watch it. Luckily, it was better than all of the other movies we’ve seen from them.

That being said, I still didn’t really like Sunday School. It did have an interesting premise – it just wasn’t carried out very well. It left us unsure whether there were holes in the plot or if the story was just not presented clearly.

Either way, it left me feeling like something was missing.

And while I’ve seen worse acting, the actors in this film weren’t very good. There were a few instances where they pulled it off, but the acting was mostly overdone and annoying.

I really don’t have many positive things to say about Sunday School. Even the ending was farfetched, with everything being tied up with a pretty bow. I can’t help but feel like if this story happened in real life, the characters would have a much harder time reaching their happy ending. And to me, that makes the movie unrelatable and unrealistic.

But, since Sunday School is a considerable improvement over the other films we’ve seen from Maverick Entertainment, I can only hope their movies continue to get better.

As for this film, I give it a mid-level “Exodus.”

How would you rate this film?

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