[Screen It]


(2017) (Brett Dalton, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes) (PG)

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Drama: A former child star turned thirty-something bad boy of Hollywood finds his life changed when he's sentenced to 200 hours of community service working for a church.
Gavin Stone (BRETT DALTON) was once a child TV star complete with his own catchphrase. But with bad role models in Hollywood, he's grown up to be a thirty-something bad boy who's the subject of tabloid fodder. His latest incident -- the trashing of a hotel -- has resulted in him being sentenced to two hundred hours of community service at Masonville Bible Church, not far from where his estranged and widowed father, Waylon (NEIL FLYNN), still lives. While his dad reluctantly lets him stay in his old bedroom during his service stint, Pastor Allan Richardson (D.B. SWEENEY) welcomes him in the mindset that everyone deserves a second chance.

His adult daughter, Kelly (ANJELAH JOHNSON-REYES), doesn't share that same sentiment, mainly because the egotistical Gavin has decided he's had enough of mopping the floors and would rather help with the church's annual production of "Crown of Thorns" where she's the director. Others, such as Doug (SHAWN MICHAELS), John Mark (TIM FRANK) and Anthony (PATRICK GAGNON), are happy to have the famous star join their ensemble, and Kelly reluctantly agrees to let him have the lead role playing Jesus simply because no one else can act.

That works for Gavin, especially since he's attracted to Kelly, even if the feeling isn't remotely mutual. By putting on the guise of being a devout Christian and then actually helping the production get better, however, the actor slowly but surely begins to win over Kelly. But when Hollywood comes knocking -- in the form of Gavin's former TV director, Mike Meara (CHRISTOPHER MALEKI), who'd like to cast him and his reputation in a recurring part of his weekly show -- the actor finds himself torn between a second chance in his career and one in his life.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
When it comes to getting by in this world of ours, one clearly needs water, food, and shelter to make it. Those obviously pertain to physical requirements to survive, but when it comes to mental and psychological wellbeing, certainty and novelty are fairly important as well.

Even on a cloudy day, or if one is partaking in a multi-day movie marathon in a theater, or doing a tour of duty in a submarine, one is certain the sun will rise each morning and set later on. If it didn't, the uncertainty that would follow would unnerve people to no end.

On the other hand, and notwithstanding people who can watch the same movie or TV show, listen to the same song or read the same book hundreds of times, people also crave variety. Just imagine if the only football game available for watching played out exactly the same way it did yesterday, last week, the month before that and years going backward. It would literally drive you crazy (or at least to the point of uber-boredom).

Of course, the perfect world provides some combination thereof where both qualities coexist. Any given sporting event contains familiar aspects, but the outcome and the path getting there are usually in question. The same goes for movies. Most people want a familiar general storyline where the protagonist encounters and must overcome one or more obstacles to reach their goal, but simultaneously want that to feel fresh.

Those behind "The Resurrection of Gavin Stone" are attempting to do just that in two ways. First, they want to tell a "Come to Jesus" story with the usual trappings, but do so in a way that's agreeable to casual believers and even non-believers by not falling into the trap of being overly preachy.

The second is to tell the tale of a big city ego being tamed by having to spend time with down to Earth folks who live simpler lives that eventually show the big-shot the error of their ways. You know, something along the lines of "Doc Hollywood" where Michael J. Fox played a new surgeon on his way to Hollywood when he got waylaid by a car accident and angry judge in what seemed like small-town Hicksville from which he couldn't wait to escape.

In this film -- written by Andrea Nasfell and directed by Dallas Jenkins -- Brett Dalton plays a former child TV star who grew up to be the "bad boy" of Hollywood and constant fodder for tabloid reporting. After being involved in the trashing of a hotel, he's sentenced to 200 hours of community service in the local church.

He rolls his eyes at the prospect of that and is just biding his time until he catches sight of an attractive young woman (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes) who wants no part of him (apparently she's related to Julie Warner's character in "Doc Hollywood" who had the same sort of "You don't impress me" response to the title character).

Not surprisingly, he then sets out to win her over, and in doing so, gets to know and like the various supporting characters (played here by the likes of Shawn Michaels, Tim Frank and Patrick Gagnon doing various sitcom style bits of comedy) while helping out (in this case, putting on the church's annual performance of "Crown of Thorns"). And then right on cue his old outside world beckons and he must decide what to do.

His choice and then reconsideration won't come as a surprise to anyone who's seen "Doc Hollywood" or any similarly constructed tale. Some won't mind that familiarity and the slight retooling of telling this sort of story from a religion based angle. For me, it doesn't go far enough in making such material its own. I knew every story beat that was going to occur and when, and thus didn't find enough novelty introduced into the mix. By the time the now saved prodigal son literally and figuratively returns to where he belongs, "The Resurrection of Gavin Stone" felt too much like "The Resurrection of Doc Hollywood." It rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed January 16, 2017 / Posted January 20, 2017

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