Friday, February 2, 2007

States of Grace - God's Army II

It's day 4 of me coming out of the closet, or dragging my wife into my closet, or whatever it is that I did. Anyway, we are doing OK today. We've been having open and frank discussions. One thing that my wife did tell me that was encouraging is that she has been feeling a wide range of emotions, but anger hasn't been one of them. She says that she is still trying to grasp what this all means; but, she thinks she'll be OK. Most importantly, she said that she realizes that I haven't changed. I'm still the same man she married, and the same man that she loved a week ago, and the man that she loves today. I really don't know what I ever did to deserve a woman like her to be my wife.

Anyway, I thought I would blog about something different today and write my review of the movie "States of Grace - God's Army II". We were finally able to sit down and watch it last night.

Unfortunately, we were not able to watch it without interruptions. In the first part of the movie, I got a phone call from the Scoutmaster. Although our Mutual night is Wednesday, the scouts meet on Thursday because we have several non-members in our scout troop who are involved in their own church activities on Wednesday evenings. Last night, it seems that no one had a key to the building. So, I had to pause the movie and drive down to the church to unlock the building for them (fortunately, it is only about a 5 minute drive to the church building from my house). Later in the movie we had a problem with the DVD skipping (a disadvantage of using Netflix). Fortunately, there was only one spot and we were able to get past it.

Before I get into my actual review, I must say that I've never written a review before. Also, I am not nearly as articulate as the other members of the MoHo Book Club. English was never a strong subject for me in school (and I had the grades to prove it). Technical writing is my strong suit. If you need programming specs, user's manuals, etc. then I'm your man. But, creative writing has always eluded me.

Having gotten that out of the way, I will say that, overall, I liked the movie. Was it the greatest movie I've ever seen? No, "Little Shop of Horrors" still holds the #1 place in my book. But, it was a good movie, and one that I would recommend to others to watch. Best of all, it was tons better than God's Army I; but, it didn't have to try hard to achieve that.

Overall, I thought the acting was very good. I did find myself wondering how many of the actors were LDS. Also, the 2nd half of the movie was much better than the 1st half. If I had written this review after watching just the 1st half then I would have said that it was an OK movie.


From this point on, I will be revealing specifics about the plot; so, be warned.

Now, let me talk about the things I didn't like to get them out of the way. From an accuracy point of view it had some problems. Some of the missionaries seemed much older than your typical 19/20 year olds. Granted, there are missionaries that are older (I was one of them since I didn't even join the church until I was nearly 19); but, they are the minority. Also, a missionary apartment with a beach front view? Come on, that was just silly! And boy was that apartment roomy. Much more room than I ever had in a missionary apartment. And a sister missionary playing basketball with the elders? I don't think so. And, the missionary not calling his zone leader as soon as he realized his companion wasn't in the apartment - that could be grounds for getting sent home dishonorably. Not to mention letting a homeless man stay in your apartment.

Also, the storyline was pretty far fetched. I just have to say that the last 2 weeks of my mission were pretty gosh darn boring compared to Elder Lorenzo's. But, it was just a story. Most movies have far fetched plots. If movies depicted real life then why would we want to watch them?

I found it kind of funny that one of the missionaries was named Elder Farrell because he kind of looked like Will Farrell.

And, I thought Elder Lorenzo's tattoos were excessive. It didn't bother me that he had tattoos. We once had a missionary serving in my ward who had tattoos. He had been inactive as a youth and had joined the military out of high school. However, when Elder Lorenzo related his story, he said that he wasn't really a member of the gang, he just hung out with them with his brother. He was being initiated into the gang when he was shot in a gang war, hospitalized, and put into a hospital room with an LDS missionary who had been in a car accident. Yet, he had tattoos like that of someone who had been involved in a gang for many years.

Now for the stuff I liked...

There were some unexpected, but welcome, plot twists. Elder Lorenzo woke up one night and saw that his companions bed was empty. He immediately assumed the worse and went and pounded on the door of their neighbor who was a pretty girl who had been flirting with his companion. I was really quite surprised to learn that Elder Farrell did actually commit fornication with the neighbor girl next door. I was expecting there to be some logical explanation for why he wasn't in his bed during the night when his companion woke up. Later, as he was being sent home, he tried to slit his wrist. His father, it seems, had told him that he would rather he come home in a casket than to come home dishonorably (his father was a real jerk, if you ask me). Even with that, it was surprise when he actually did attempt to take his life. I truly didn't know if he was going to live or die after being taken to the hospital. After being surprised twice, I wasn't even going to try to guess that outcome.

I was glad to see that the preacher guy didn't end up joining the LDS church. Maybe that didn't come out quite right. I just mean to say that it would have been trite for the preacher guy to end up joining the LDS church in the end and they all lived happily ever after. The same can be said for the grandmother.

But, the ending of the movie, where the disgraced Elder Farrell was holding the baby in the live nativity while crying, was very poignant and touching. It made my wife cry (and, boy was I glad to not be the one she was crying about this time). It was that ending that made the movie worthwhile. If it had ended any other way then I think I may have given this movie a thumbs down. You could just feel the anguish and remorse that Elder Farrell was experiencing because of his actions. But, you could also feel his gratitude because of the unconditional love of the savior. The message I got from this movie is that God loves all of us. No matter what we do in this life - he will always love us and be there for us when we are ready to accept him.

I especially liked the diversity that the movie depicted. The Lutherans with their live nativity, kneeling down and praying for the disgraced missionary. The preacher who got his own church. They are all teaching God's word. Maybe not the fullness of the gospel; but, God's word none the less. Perhaps this is my protestant upbringing is coming out. I do have a testimony that this is the restored church; however, I don't think we have exclusive rights to truth. And, I think we can stand to learn a lot from some of our other Christian (and even non-Christian) brothers and sisters. Especially in their devotion to God and how they are unashamed to show it outwardly. Personally, I think it would do us some good to hear some "amen's" during sacrament meeting, to join hands in prayer, and to be unashamed to pray openly in public.

Bottom line, if you haven't seen the movie then I've probably spoiled it for you; but, watch it anyway. If you have seen the movie then watch it again - I think I will before I return the DVD to Netflix.


Beck said...

You've made me think of the Hindus in India that I've met in my travels. They openly pray and have great public devotion, seeking inspiration through meditation and receiving temple blessings from the priest. I even received a temple blessing in Bangalore...

Many great truths - many ways of worshipping - and worshipping without shame!

Blog follower who has yet to create his own blog but is also dealing w/ what everyone else here is said...

Actually just to play devil's advocate...

I served in Santa Cruz, CA and our apartment was close enough to the beach that you could hear the waves at night... true, it was beachFRONT, but about as close as you could get...

And we did have sisters play basketball with us, but never just one...and they had to guard each other, we couldn't block them because of the touching rule, etc etc...

Mormon Enigma said...

I love Santa Cruz, CA. I went to High School there. Unfortunately, I can't afford to live there.

-L- said...

I thought the beach house was over the top until my wife noted there was a line where they say something about a member owning the place. It makes sense that they might live there if a member was donating it.

Your writing is great, by the way. I'm afraid mind gets dry and boring when I don't put effort into it (and that's just really too much bother!).

Thanks for participating in the club, btw. You should suggest something for this month if you want (only one other person has at this point). Don't feel like you necessarily need to "review" the title, you can just sort of muse about wherever the book/movie led your mind.

:-) I'm glad to read your blog.

Mormon Enigma said...

Just to beat a dead horse regarding the beach house in the movie. In the days leading up to my mission I lived on the coast in California. I didn't live in Santa Cruz proper; but, I was in the Santa Cruz stake. (Actually, the Santa Cruz stake didn't exist yet, it was formed while I was on my mission; so, that is the stake I returned to). Anyway, I was going out with the full time missionaries quite often on splits. At least at that point in time, they were not allowed to go anywhere near the beach. They were not allowed to be any place where the beach was within site. They were serving in a town that was right on the coast and had never actually seen the ocean. I remember once driving them up into the mountains a little bit just so they could, at least, see the ocean from a distance. Perhaps things have changed since then.