29 October 2013

Movie Review: "Seven Days in Utopia"

Rated: G for general audiences
Starring: Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, and Deborah Ann Woll
Released: September 2, 2011 (theaters) / November 29, 2011 (DVD)
Synopsis: Golfer Luke Chisholm (Lucas Black, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) has a major meltdown during a televised tournament that is seen around the world and puts a rift between him and his father.  With nowhere else to go, he ends up in Utopia, a small town with residents such as the pretty waitress Sarah (Deborah Ann Woll, True Blood) and former golfer Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall, The Godfather).  When they see the televised account of Luke's worst moment, they take it on themselves to rehabilitate him and help him find the right way.  However, can he ever get back what he lost? Will he be able to make amends with his father? Will he go right back to golfing, or is there something more to life than just smacking a ball around with a club? One thing is for sure: Life is never the same once you've been to Utopia.
Based on the book by David L. Cook.

Artistic Merit

Plot: 3.5/5
While not exactly original--but, hey, King Solomon wrote, "There is nothing new under the Sun"--the plot works moderately well.  However, some of the questions presented are not answered by the time the credits roll.  If you're expecting everything to be resolved by the movie's end, you've got the wrong movie.

Production Values: 3/5
The actors are all great; the soundtrack is decent; the sets and such look real enough, though that's probably only because of the Golf Channel's sponsorship.  However, the opening scene--which has a quick-cutting, repetitive montage of the events leading up to the start of the film--was a bit hard to get through, so much so that I debated quitting watching at that point.  I was glad I stayed, but others may not be able to endure that as well.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
Christian faith is portrayed in a positive light.  A character says he is glad to have given up alcoholism.  Seriously, moral-wise, there isn't much that isn't positive.

Sexual Content: 4.5/5
One near-kiss.

Nudity: 4.5/5
Sarah wears some outfits that are either off-the-shoulder or slightly low-cut.

Violence: 3.75/5
The movie starts out with a non-fatal car crash.  During Lucas' meltdown, he angrily snaps one of his clubs in two.  Some guys--including Luke--participate in a rodeo; though the usual throwing around is seen, there's no blood or gore.  A small plane nearly crashes into a field.

Language: 4.5/5
One usage of the h-word.

Drugs: 4/5
As mentioned above, a character says that he is glad to have given up alcohol.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 4/5
See "Violence".

Other: 3.5/5
Some of the guys are seen gambling.  Manure is referenced and seen on a guy's face.

Final Score: 3.5/5
I had high hopes for this movie; it was touted as a wonderful flick by Christian critics everywhere, and it even featured right many mainstream stars.  Though it was still pretty good, a hard-to-get-through beginning and an abrupt ending kept it from being all it could have been.  Fans of Christian cinema and/or golf may enjoy it--in fact, it's a lot better than Birdie & Bogey, the last golf-themed movie I tried watching--but others may end up somewhat disappointed.  If you think you'd love to see this, rent it first; otherwise, you may end up shelling out a bunch of money on something you'll never watch again.

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