Comments about ‘What happened to the wave of Mormon movies?’

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Published: Friday, April 25 2014 7:55 a.m. MDT

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One may as well ask what happened to the Mormon musical after "Saturday's Warrior" and "My Turn On Earth"--each one in turn became a cliched caricature of the last one until total absurdity ensued.

Fruit Heights, UT

The Best Two Years was the best and worst thing that happened to Mormon movies because its the best one and therefore any movie that has come after it has been compared and lost.

North Logan, UT

Ummm... there were a few more than that. So you can't take all the blame. I have wondered if the movement centered around a few good actors or directors, and when they moved on, so did the rest of us. I miss those good old days.

Danbury, CT

It DOES have to do with the quality of the script. You can't just have a few people show up and start doing pratfalls and tripping around and expect people to go for it. Home Teachers was really lame. I didn't like "God's Army" much either. It tries too hard to be thoughtful without any real weight and the actors all look like 30-somethings. It didn't remind me of my mission at all or anyone else's for that matter. Best Two Years did. A total family favorite.

I'd like to see the kids that do Studio C try a full-length movie...

Mchenry, IL

Not LDS but I liked both singles ward movies, home teachers was very funny. Mobsters and Mormons was funny. I even found the Best Two Years to be interesting. Wonderful lesson about personal growth. While I liked One Good Man I had no idea what the problem was. One daughter needed a cell phone with a timer to get home on time. He had to lay off a member if his ward. Makes me wonder about the wisdom of non paid clergy. I did like dad sat out the wedding. Mom should have too. But I was glad dad did. The RM was super fun. Midway to Heaven was lost on me. I am still waiting for the family ward movie. I actually thought maybe mormon movies slowed down in production because a few of the stars left the church. What would be nice is to see some tv series that feature LDS families and not just cramming everything you can into two hours. Mormon mommy blogs are well viewed. There is a market to see the day to day stuff.

Bethesda, MD

I found it interesting that no mention was made of The Saratov Approach which swept the Utah film festival with 8 awards, has reportedly broken all previous box-office records for Mormon-themed movies and DVD sales, and has been well-received by traditional audiences around the country and is now on a global premier schedule in major cities in Europe and Asia. The success of The Saratov Approach stemmed from its close adherence to historical fact, a compelling tale with a happy AND true ending and the Director's ability to weave a compelling story that tugged at the audiences' heartstrings. As one person said after leaving the movies, for two hours, everyone in that theater felt like they were the parents of a Mormon missionary. I think the film's performance is proof that the demand will be there if it is well done from both a story and a cinematographic perspective.

Cedar Hills, UT

Also, The Other Side of. Heaven, which was made by a major motion picture studio, Disney. It did fairly well and was well done.
It can be hard to define what is a Mormon Movie exactly? Is Napolean Dynamite? It starred and was written and directed by Mormons, although the characters had no known religion expressed.
Saratov was good. Also 17 miracles and Ephraim's Rescue. And Saints and Soldiers.
I would like to see a quality made version of the Book of Mormon, not the cheesy one made years ago.

The reason we don't usually see high quality is that it can cost a lot, and the thought is the market is too small to recoup the investment.

The films could appeal to a mass market if not just inside Mormonisms that others don't understand, like the jokes in many of the movies like the Singles Ward. Most non-Mormons just don't get it. Have a good story told with well developed characters.

A well made movie of many Book of Mormon stories could be well received if done right. The ideals of Captain Moroni are very similar to American ideals of freedom.

Orem, UT

I see LOTS of movies.

Good movies have great scripts, strong/confident directors, and solid/capable actors. If you miss one of these, a movie is generally no good. Most LDS movies lack AT LEAST one of these. Sometimes one category can be missing and you still have a relatively popular movie. I think "Singles Ward" is in this category. This was in no way a perfect film, but the jokes were relatable to the audience and we all laughed and had fun--its uniqueness was its main selling point.

"The Best Two Years", the FIRST "Saints and Soldiers", and "The Saratov Approach" are the best of the LDS film crop....by a large margin. The reason LDS films miss the boat in the three categories listed above is because of the difficulty getting funding.

I have a good friend who is an LDS filmmaker and securing funding for his project is getting in the way of producing his film (an excellent script/story and an equally excellent director are ready). But wealthy LDS investors are leery because of other poor LDS productions like (sorry) "The Home Teachers" and "Church Ball". Sadly, good material pays the price.

Sandy, UT

There are plenty of wholesome, entertaining stories in the Mormon culture left to be told, you just have to take a chance on the writers. I'd love to volunteer my writing talents. Read my blog about trying to stay positive as an LDS single and call me.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

You are all missing the boat on the best LDS movie ever made, even one most traditional critics admired. That is Brigham City. It is a well done masterpiece of LDS culture. If you want to get a true glimpse into Mormon culture, both its good and bad, this is the film. It is also a well done thriller with some really good plot twists. You will be surprised by the quality of script and movie, though made on a shoe-string budget. Those who are LDS will appreciate this fine film. Those who aren't LDS will enjoy a look into real LDS smaller town culture but the storyline alone is a good one. The very ending scene after the mystery is unraveled will bring any religious person to tears...

Just Jargon
Orem, UT

1. One Good Man. Errand of Angels. The Letter Writer. Silent Night. All pretty good LDS Films, or LDS made.

2. Very poor scripts and no development.

3. Film makers who think because they know how to turn on a camera, they can create a film.

4. Producers who think they are really something, but have little talent when put up against the films of the world. It is not easy to create or produce a film. Many think they can, and many just want to earn a few bucks. Some even do it at the expense of the great film crews that are in Utah.

5. A very short-sighted film commissioner in Utah. Does very little to draw great productions to Utah, which would inspire greater LDS work.

6. TC Christensen, Christian Vuissa, Garrett Batty, doing some of the best work.

7. Church itself? Too much little clip work, too much narration. No films that really address what families and individuals are going through.

8. New Testament film clips in Goshen are nice, but look what others have done recently with telling the entire story of Christ. We, in the church, have still not done this.

Shelley, ID

All of these movies had their different purposes - humor, suspense, teaching, etc. If the outcome is what the purpose is, then it was a success.

Big Bubba
Herriman, UT

Like Kora who commented earlier, I would love to see a quality production series of the BofM.

Jared from CT

For Mormon comedy, my hands-down favorite is Baptists at our Barbecue. Other movies I've enjoyed are Saints & Soldiers, Saratov Approach, Brigham City, Suits on the Loose, The Best Two Years, Mobsters and Mormons, 17 Miracles, Ephraim's Rescue... And yes, I like Saturday's Warrior, sometimes you have to look past a movie's warts and blemishes to the message. Of course there have been some that have been so poorly done it is almost impossible to get anything positive out of them. But I think those are the exception.

One movie I would LOVE to see done is "A Distant Prayer", about an LDS member of a bomber crew that gets shot down over Germany and is captured. If you aren't familiar with it, get the audio book. It is a fantastic true story of survivals and miracles, that would be a wonderful film and could appeal to a wide audience.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

@Howard Beal
"You are all missing the boat on the best LDS movie ever made... That is Brigham City."

I also thought Brigham City was excellent. Richard Dutcher made it and also God's Army. But the rest of his films were downhill. Now with Richard having left the LDS Church, I fear his talents in LDS film-making might be long gone for good.

"I didn't like "God's Army" much either... It didn't remind me of my mission at all"

Gods Army wasn't perfect, but it related to my mission quite well. Missionaries playing somewhat cruel jokes on each other; a missionary who loses his testimony due to anti-Mormon material; a Catholic father who is hesitant to let his wife and daughter join the Church because "we're Catholic!" (I served in a heavy Catholic country and saw that frequently!); a "stuck up" Sister missionary; missionaries joking/speculating about who is being transferred next. Even when the missionaries sing "We Are All Enlisted" - good grief we sang that hymn way too many times on my mission! I related to God's Army very well.

Cardston, Alberta

Probably to appeal to a broader audience, Ryan Little's Forever Strong did an outstanding job of portraying the story of Coach Larry Gelwix and his Highland High Rugby Team leaving out any filming and mention of Mormonism and Mormons. Anyone who missed this film missed a very good movie. Saints and Soldiers (both films ) are also works of Ryan Little.

St.George, Utah

No Academy Award nominations?

Cardston, Alberta

Thus far the Brethren have chosen to steer clear of any full length commercial motion picture. Portrayal of events from Church history, from the Book of Mormon, and from the Bible for teaching those not of our faith is a very risky venture; far too subjective to be undertaken with Church funding. You just can't appeal to the viewing tastes of lots of people(even those of us who are members) so there is very little to be accomplished in attempting to do so.

Saint George, UT

One of my favorite movies, not just LDS movie, was The BestTwo Years! I pull it out every year! Awesome!

Midwest City, USA, OK

I've yet to see God's Army, and I'm interested in doing so.

Other "Mormon movies", however, really just aren't of interest to me. I really disliked RM, and as someone who's been attending singles' wards for far too long, I certainly don't want to watch a movie about one. I'd never even heard of the home teacher film.

My ideal "Mormon movie" would probably be film adaptions of Chris Stewart's "The Great and Terrible" series. It's legitimately interesting -without- anything Church related, but the theology behind it is what really frames and flavors the entire story in a way unlike anything I've ever seen before.

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