Old Fashioned is now available on DVD! If you’re looking for a great date night film, give this one a shot. SCH Contributor Bethany Jett explains why:
“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” – Zora Neale Hurston
Amber (Elizabeth Roberts) and her cat Mr. Joe find a furnished apartment for rent in a small town in Ohio. The residence sits above a charming antique store, run by Clay Walsh (Rik Swartzwelder), a man who won’t enter the premises with her because of a promise he made to his future wife to be pure. He’s a quiet man, devout in his beliefs and prone to quoting Scripture to the annoyance of his friend, Brad (Tyler Hollinger). Brad is a radio host with a liberal view on dating and a “women-are-stupid” attitude who is moving on to Hollywood.
The film’s over-arching theme deals with treating women with respect—perhaps going so far back that the ideas seem foreign. Clay’s strict adherence to his “not being alone with a woman who isn’t his wife” means that Amber steps outside when he has to fix her stove.
Clay’s “theory” is that dating doesn’t teach us to be good husbands or wives, but it teaches us to be superficial and good daters. “It’s icing, not cake. It’s not enough,” he says. He brings up the point that half of all marriages experience infidelity, so not having sex teaches him to control himself—and can help him be a good husband. “The boundaries that used to be common have been thrown away. They were there to protect us.”
The two casually flirt—she bumps into him at the grocery, his friend invites her to a party, and then Amber starts breaking things as excuses to see him.
When Clay asks her out, their first date is not a typical one by any means. He puts her through the ringer, but she takes it in stride. During this date, she learns about Clay’s previous life and the success he walked away from.
Old Fashioned’s pace matches the small town life its set in. Amber is quirky and charming and Clay grows on you. Spunky Aunt Zella will delight you. All in all, Amber and Brad match their characters perfectly. During their scenes, you get lost in the tale. Perhaps because Clay’s character is so distant and drawn into himself, it’s difficult to fully understand him at times. He’s conflicted, but with our societal standards wedged firmly in our minds, it’s hard to relate to the lengths to which he’s willing to go.
In a way, it’s heartbreaking.
See the trailer below:
A second theme is that everything has a story. Clay’s story is why he owns the antique store—and Amanda’s is that she packed everything she owns into her car and drove away to get a fresh start. During one of there conversations, she reveals why she’s wearing the cast on her wrist, and the difference between her ex-boyfriend and Clay becomes clear, as do Clay’s feelings for Amber.
Supporting characters David (LeJon Woods) and Aunt Zella (Dorothy Silver) help Clay see how detrimental his self-flagellation over his past sins has become. Amber’s co-workers Carol (Maryanne Nagel) and Trish (Lindsay Heath) at the flower shop give her a hard time about dating Clay, but one of them surprises you with her show of support at the end.
Both Amber and Clay find a restorative balance after a couple of mishaps and misunderstandings. It’s a sweet ending after all.
[Spoiler Alert] As far as questionable content: There is a reference to Clay not dating because he’s “gay or has a tiny problem.” Clay gets exposed for his College Co-Eds X-Posed DVD, even though he was pretty honest that there were things about his past that he wasn’t proud of. David’s friends hire him a stripper for his bachelor party, but all she takes off is her jacket.
I think many Christians will watch Old Fashioned and agree that Clay’s views are stricter than their own, but there is a lot to be said for someone wanting to err on the side of caution and purity. The College Co-Eds video is a little disturbing on the final flashback. The girls appear to be drugged, but no mention is made of this and it’s assumed that they’re drinking.
Interestingly, Old Fashioned released the same weekend as 50 Shades of Grey. The two films could not be more different—each going to an extreme, from not being alone in the same room as someone of the opposite sex to sexual bondage. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
The Bible says we’re to keep ourselves pure, but sometimes it’s hard to find that line. Clay makes the point that dating today is sleeping with someone first and finding out if you like them later. Is that where we’ve come? Does that make sense? This movie gives you a chance to ask yourself those questions and figure out for yourself if the way we look at our dating culture needs to be overhauled.
What areas of Clay’s theory did you agree with? If you were to suggest taking it slow and asking questions on dates, do you think it would be well received? Where is the line between “prudity” and purity?
For more information about the movie, check out Rik Swartzwelder Interview: Old Fashioned takes on Fifty Shades of Grey.
Bethany Jett is an author and speaker from Tampa, FL. Her dating book for young women, The Cinderella Rule is available online and in bookstores everywhere. Find her at Bethany Jett.