A host at the screening of Grace Unplugged I attended pleaded with the audience to buy out a movie theater auditorium for the film's opening night. We were chastised for going to see The Hunger Games, which, we were told, evangelical Christians frequented at a higher rate than any other demographic. Wouldn't we rather have more movies like Grace than more movies like Hunger? Better reach for our wallets. Otherwise, we had only ourselves to blame when our daughters started emulating Katniss Everdeen.
I've always found this kind of cause marketing puzzling. It seems to tacitly admit that the product is not good enough to sell tickets on its own. I'm not against niche marketing; there is actually something a little refreshing about seeing a Christian film stop worrying about crossover appeal and just making the faith content explicit. But doesn't it still have to be a good movie?
Grace Trey has just turned eighteen. She sings in the praise band at church under the direction of her father, Johnny Trey, a former professional singer who prefers the down-on-the-suburban-farm life to touring. Dad and daughter fight about all sorts of generic family stuff, but mostly about her not following his direction during the praise numbers.
When a talent show cover of Johnny's biggest hit renews interest, Johnny's friend and former manager, Frank "Mossy" Mostin, comes knocking. He has what Grace thinks is the opportunity of a lifetime: resume recording, resume touring, and resume being a star. Dad's not interested, but the lure of bright lights and big cities is too much for Grace. She steals Johnny's song and sends a copy to Mossy. Pretty soon she's on her prodigal daughter journey ...1