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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: January 7, 2015.

Prepare for a family film that will carry you on a whirlwind of emotion. This reviewer’s former Marine husband even became a little teary-eyed at one point.

One-hit wonder Johnny Trey (James Denton) fostered a love of music in his daughter Grace (AJ Michalka) from an early age. Receiving a guitar for her birthday as a young child let her abilities and talents soar to new heights.

Johnny is the worship minister at their church, and Grace plays guitar along side of him. Towards the end of the song, Grace goes off-script, putting a little bit of zest into her singing and adding a little spunk to the song.

This sparks the tense current of animosity flowing between father and daughter, igniting a fight where he threatens to kick her off the worship band and not participate in the upcoming worship album, Grace.

AJ Michalka as Gracie Trey in the hit film Grace Unplugged; Photo Courtesy of Coram Deo Studios

Grace later disrespects her father in front of guests, skips youth group, lies to her parents about her whereabouts, and is mean to her best friend Rachel (Jamie Grace). Her father confronts her, “You always wanted your life to be about God, but these days it’s all about you.”

After another church service, Johnny’s former manager, Frank Moston aka “Mossy” (Kevin Pollak) shows up with a proposition for Johnny to perform his hit Misunderstood on tour.It’s a dream of a lifetime in Grace’s eyes, and in her naiveté cannot understand why her father turns it down.

Tired of being told what to do by parents that care about her, Grace takes matters into her own hands. She leaves home, signs with Sapphire music, and gets a taste of the Hollywood spotlight.

Now dubbed Gracie Trey, Grace’s life is quickly filled with alcohol, lies, and offers of immorality, and she has the opportunity at several points to think about her faith in God, question it, and even deny it.

A scene from the film: Johnny Trey (James Denton) and his daughter Grace (AJ Michalka) playing music together; Photo Courtesy of Coram Deo Studios

Thankfully, Grace meets Quentin (Michael Welch), the intern at Sapphire who remembers her and her dad leading worship at their church. He brings a constant, reassuring balance to the culture shock Grace experiences.

The climax of the film brings Gracie Trey to a crossroads, and Grace must decide if she will continue to climb the billboard charts, or will she remain true to her God.

Grace Unplugged is chock-full of amazing scenes, pretty great acting, and a plot line that makes you forget you’re watching a film. The weakest acting was that of Grace’s mom Michelle (Shawnee Smith), who stood behind her husband as a flat character, not experiencing the fullness of emotion that Denton was able to develop.

However, Grace Unplugged left some holes in the storyline, leaving some unanswered questions and making me wonder why certain things were ever mentioned.

Michael Welch as Quentin and AJ Michalka as Gracie Trey during a tense scene in Grace Unplugged; Photo Courtesy of Coram Deo Studios

Not wanting to cause any spoilers, I won’t go into detail, but I thought some things were left unresolved, or could have been developed further.

This is a film that should have opened in more theaters and probably won’t get the long-running showing that it deserves. Since Grace Unplugged deals with adult situations, including underage drinking, hints of premarital sex, and rebellion, it’s not a film for children. However, it’s a fantastic film for the teens or pre-teens in your life due to the conversation starters it will spark.

Find out where Grace Unplugged is showing near you. It’s a movie that should be supported in the box offices, and will hopefully spur more decent movies to be made.

A real winner, Grace Unplugged is worth seeing in the theater and then buying a copy when it comes out on DVD. All in all, Grace Unplugged is a beautiful movie that demonstrates how God wants you to use your gifts to serve Him, and he will bestow blessings  on those that follow His commands, instead of their own.

Gracie tries her luck at stardom but quickly finds it’s not what she expected; Photo Courtesy of Coram Deo Studios

The Biblical Worldview

Underage drinking is prevalent throughout the film. In Hollywood, none of the adults care that Grace, 18, is drinking, and in fact, expect her to. Grace begins casually dating a celebrity, who is interested in sleeping with her.

Spoiler Warning: Kendra Burroughs (Emma Catherwood), image consultant for the record company, buys Grace lingerie for when she spends the night with the actor she’s been seeing. When Grace naively asks Kendra if she thinks the actor is “that kind of guy,” Kendra looks at Grace like she’s an idiot.

The disrespect and rebelliousness of Grace in the film provides a great teaching lesson. Grace deals with her consequences, and although Johnny Trey doesn’t always let Grace have the upper hand, sometimes he may appear as if he’s being too lenient.

James Denton as Johnny Trey and AJ Michalka as Gracie Trey in the hit film Grace Unplugged; Photo Courtesy of Coram Deo Studios

The Biblical Discussion

Grace sees her father’s refusal to enter back into the world of rock-and-roll as a missed opportunity…one that she takes into her own hands to get a shot at stardom. Because she is aware of the talents God gave her, Grace goes to almost any length to “make it” into Hollywood.

Her manager (former manager of her father) Mossy says to her, “This is what it feels like when you make it.” Yet even though Grace’s biggest dream has come true, she feels empty, lonely, and conflicted. Is she willing to pay the price to stay on top?

The Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to keep you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

How far are you willing to go to follow your dreams?

What are some ways to distinguish God’s will from our own?

What are some ways we can know we are walking in God’s will?

Check out this amazing film, watch Grace Unplugged – Official Trailer

Do you want to read another review by SCH movie critic, Bethany Jett? Read Doonby – Movie Review



Find more about the author at Bethany Jett.


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