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Interview: Dennis Quaid talks “I Can Only Imagine”

Country music is full of stories that can make your eyes leak,  and “I Can Only Imagine” is even more poignant because it really happened (at least in a cinematic sense.) I sat down with one of the stars of the film, Dennis Quaid, to discuss, the movie, his character and never giving up on your dream.

“I Can Only Imagine” hits theaters March 16.


Movie Review: “Fifty Shades Freed” Brings the Franchise to Sizzling End

It’s been a fun 3 years, but we finally close the book on the provocative “Fifty Shades” franchise.

When we last saw Anna (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) in “Fifty Shades Darker” they were rekindling their romance. Anna started a new job at a publishing company where her creep of a boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), came on to her. While Anna dealt with him, Christian dealt with some troubling ladies from his past. Eventually, the two over came those obstacles and the film ended with the couple getting engaged.

Now we are at the beginning of the end. “Fifty Shades Freed” opens with a montage of Christian and Anna’s wedding followed by what looks like a dream honeymoon in Europe. However, the newlywed’s aren’t in bliss for too long once they find out Jack Hyde is back and pissed at the couple for “ruining his career”. This puts a damper on married life all together, as Christian continues his controlling ways and has Anna continuously followed by his security.

Besides this bigger plot, there is a lot of other stuff going on. This is the negative part of turning a book into a movie, you can never fit everything in. And even with cutting things from the third book, they jammed a lot into only and hour and 45 minutes (the shortest of the 3 films). In a nutshell, Christian and Anna buy a house, another couple gets engaged, Anna gets a job promotion, there are spur of the moment trips, a pregnancy, and of course, lots of sporadic sex.

Oh, and if for some reason you thought the previous films lacked in sex scenes, this one makes up for it and then-some. It seems married life has only made them hotter! They are making love any chance they can, in the car, with ice cream, red room of pain, etc. Though Dornan’s acting is weak, especially in comparison to Johnson’s spot on performance, their sexual chemistry continues to heat up the screen. In a tantalizing scene where Anna is forced to use her safe word, I nearly shouted “Red” myself.

Unfortunately, out of the three films, I had the most problems with “Fifty Shades Freed”. It was by far the most rushed installment and slightly anticlimactic. The film makes you feel like it is building up to a showdown between Jack and Christian, but instead glances over their shocking history and squashes any conflict in a mere 60 seconds.

That being said, “Fifty Shades Freed” is still just as fun as the first two movies and it’s a great “Girls Night Out” flick. And once again, we are treated to an incredible soundtrack that distracts us from whatever nonsense is happening on screen.

“Fifty Shades Freed” has its flaws and by no means is it a “good movie”, but it is a solid end to a ridiculous romance. The story stays true to the books and ultimately, Christian and Anna are given the happy ending all us fans so desperately wanted to see.

Rating: 3/5

“Fifty Shades Freed” hits theaters February 9.


Movie Review: “I’m in Love with a Church Girl” is a Lackluster Film with a Spiritual Message

Despite the title, I actually wanted to like I’m in Love with a Church Girl.  I am always more intrigued when a script is based on the writer’s personal experience.  Unfortunately, the terrible acting and painfully cheesy dialogue over powers the dominant meaning behind this story.

Miles Montego (Ja Rule) is a retired high level drug trafficker who has turned a new leaf, and is now working in a profession that is legal.  But for some reason, the DEA does not seem to believe Miles has changed; and has decided to keep a close eye on him.  To make matters worse, Miles is still close to his group of friends/former partners in crime that have not left the dangerous business. While trying to stay on the right side of the law, Miles meets Vanessa Leon (Adrienne Bailon).  Adrienne is different from all the girls he has dated.  He is drawn to her beauty and her faith.   Of course, this relationship is not an easy one.  As Miles is torn between his past life and the life he wants, Vanessa struggles with spending a life with someone who does not share her faith in God.

Writer and producer, Galley Molina, wrote the script while he was serving time in prison.  At first, it was suppose to be a book.  Eventually, the story turned into a film that Molina financed himself so he could have more creative control.   He even rejected an offer from a major studio, because they wanted to embellish on his drug dealing days.   Sadly, I think that might have made for a more engaging story.  I get that he wanted to focus on the journey he had to redemption.  But given the situation, the audience would have appreciated seeing the gritty details that Miles had clearly been dealing with before “surrendering himself to God”.

The film is rated PG and geared toward a more faith-based audience.  So, I can see how they would want to keep things as clean as possible.  But if I’m going to see a film about second chances, I want to see what actions you did before that needed redemption.  The entire film only referenced Miles’ dark past.  We never saw any drugs, let alone hear about what specifically they were dealing.  Since they only alluded to the crimes, the DEA seemed even more random when they would appear on screen.  I kept feeling bad for Miles.  Through out the film he is a sweet, caring guy.  Then all the sudden bad things happen to the people in his life and he is praying that he be punished for his sins instead of them.   I missed the yearning for redemption I would usually want for the protagonist.

Stephen Baldwin plays Jason McDaniels, a DEA in charge of the case on Miles.  Molina chose Baldwin and Bailon for the film because of their “strong Christian backgrounds and for their talents.” I do not know exactly where that talent went when Baldwin was shooting this film.  He might as well have been asleep in each of his scenes.  There was no effort in any of his line delivery.  Yes he was given corny, cliché dialogue, but he just acted like he did not want to be there.  I’m going to avoid talking about the rest of the obviously first time actors, that includes “dear in the head lights” Mr. Loen, and skip straight to the leads.  Ja Rule was a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of his inexperienced cast.  He did the best he could with what he was given, and something tells me he could have handled a more intense script.  Adrienne Bailon was her usual bubbly, head bopping self.  She is beautiful, and she has a lot of energy which makes her likeable to watch.  If the supporting cast put half as much energy into their performance as she did, the film might have been more entertaining.

I’m in Love with a Church Girl has a beautiful message about how God accepts you the way you are, no matter what sins you have done in the past.  I just wish we could have seen what all Molina had to overcome before finally letting God into his life.  He has a great story to tell.  But the movie version of it is so focused on the end result, that we miss all the excitement and the care; which leads to an anti-climactic conclusion.

I’m in Love with a Church Girl  is in theaters October 18th.

I’m in Love with a Church Girl Trailer HD

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