That being said, I took a mass communications class in school and was active in the theater and drama department, so I can be a wee bit critical. Okay, to be honest, I can be very critical at times and I do not usually sit through an entire movie if my interest isn't caught and held in the first 5 minutes. "Grace Unplugged" looked a little too "staged" in the beginning. Daughter sings at church with her father, daughter becomes "rebellious" by wanting to sing with her own style. Father gives her a "talking-to." A little Beaver-Cleaver sounding to me.
I don't know about you, but when attitude and rebellion rear their ugly faces in our home, it doesn't typically go off quite so smoothly and my husband and I certainly lack tact from time to time! I didn't want to watch a whole movie that seemed so hard to relate to. We are not involved in family ministry or leadership and we admittedly have allowed our frustrations to take charge of our tongues way too many times.
Thankfully, things "get real" very quickly (click here to see the trailer) and I began to find I could relate easily to both parents and the teenage daughter, Grace, at times throughout the movie. That is not something to take lightly. How many times is a strained relationship portrayed on TV with a clear-cut "good parents" vs. "self-centered child", or "pre-occupied or overly controlling parents" vs. "child just wanting to discover own independence." It is really not that simple in real life. There are some legitimate reasons our teens give us attitude (not excusing the attitude, but saying they do often have a valid point if they could communicate it respectfully). There are plenty of times when parent's don't handle things perfectly.
There are scenes that will resonant either parent or child as they see how their own behavior appears from "outside the box." Seeing each character have moments of enlightenment and acknowledgements of failure makes this movie a powerful tool for stirring some personal reflection, particularly in the area of communication. I distinctly remember the father saying, (I shook my head along with him) "You are not ready for this," to 18 year old Grace as she was continuing to step deeper into the entertainment industry while refusing the provision and protection of her parent's experience and foresight. I wholeheartedly agreed with his statement; it sounds like something I would say. Grace's response was tell-tale: She took offense, became defensive, and abruptly ended the conversation convinced to defy her father based on her emotional state at the moment.
That's an all-too familiar response I have gotten from our teen. It reminds me that I shouldn't be making so many accusatory statements (starting with "You...." is starting on the wrong foot). I am planning on rereading a book on our shelf called, "How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish. I want to give my kids a reason (read "a relationship with me they want to preserve") to want to hear me out. I want to grace them with less criticism and more praise. I want my teen to experience increasing freedom within safe parameters. I am also diving head-deep into "Losing Control and Liking It: How to Set Your Teen (and Yourself) Free" by Tim Sanford. I haven't finished it yet, but it is intriguing so far and you bet I will post a review when I'm done. :)
Back to Grace and her family! Grace gets a taste of reality in comparison to daydreams when she sees glimpses into the entertainment profession including deception, flattery, and fleeting loyalties. The temporary fulfillment she felt when her agent tells her, "I'm proud of you," shrinks over time as he repeatedly builds her up only enough to keep her career path moving, showing no personal investment in her well-being. Grace's parents experience the exasperation and paralysis of wondering, "what if" while daily life seems to trudge forward despite the huge rift in their relationship with their only child.
Bottomline, I highly recommend this movie because:
- it encourages virtue, honesty, solid morals, and faith in Jesus Christ
- it is realistic, entertaining and will resonate with you & your older child
- there were zero instances of swearing that I caught (and I listened for 'em)
- the only questionable sexual implication was a scene where Grace is given a gift which appears to be lingerie. Grace doesn't take it out of the box completely (so viewers have to deduce what it is and younger viewers may miss the whole thing) because she is embarrassed, and her response to the gift giver is an honest, "Do you really think [the guy I'm dating] is that kind of guy?" implying a subtle disapproval of sex before marriage. This was brief and innocent enough I could easily explain it away to my six year old son in whatever detail I feel appropriate without having to launch into a conversation that I wasn't ready to have yet.
- it is a rare find: a movie that an entire family can watch together, in which neither parents, nor teens should be bored and rolling their eyes (at least the not the entire time, I am sure that teens may roll their eyes in response to the parents on the show at one time or another- but that's a sign that they can relate to Grace & hopefully will learn some lessons alongside her).
- Oh, I almost forgot, it's got some great music in it- click here to see one song
This is a sort of modern-day parable of the prodigal son. I think that often teens raised in the church or in families of faith are so over-exposed to Bible stories at a young age that they may miss the entire point of application until they're old enough to see their mistakes in hindsight. Perhaps this modern-day spin, which gives a very realistic look at what walking out on your own can look like, will give families enough food for thought to inspire a greater commitment to working graciously together toward the goal of teens becoming independent and productive adults. I hope you enjoy this move as much as I did.!
Grace Unplugged is in theaters everywhere this Friday- put it on your calendar ;o)!