Well, everyone else is reviewing Daredevil season two, so I thought it might be a good idea if I tried to do something a little different. I didn’t have to wait long for something to fall in my lap though, because Stinson decided to give me a present in the form of one of the most disappointing things I’ve seen in a long time. He chose wisely though, as reviewing Christian films seems to be popular as of late, seeing as there is a ton to choose from. With that said, I want to welcome everyone to Gramps Goes to College, 102 minutes of pain that is appropriate for the whole family, but harmful to the soul.
“I’m free full time to work on what god wants me to do”
Ty Bounds is a retired computer programmer who is deciding how to spend his twilight years and the best way to serve God. He decides on returning to college, to participate in the war against secular humanism and be an example for the next generation. The protagonists meets a roommate and two female students, whose lives he will have a profound effect on, as well as the rest of the school, as he defends free thought and finds time to win some sports competitions.
This 2014 film is from Sword of the Spirit Publishing, starring the company’s CEO and writer of the film, Donald James Parker. Looking over Parker’s biography, it is quickly evident that the main character, Gramps, is modeled closely after the author/actor, and the events that happened seem loosely based off his own life. Parker has noted that his films are used to make points, and it seems as that was more important than crafting a good story, which is what I am here to review. I’ll be judging Gramps Goes to College as a movie more than what it preaches, though it is hard to separate the two. If someone is more interested in that aspect though, Parker is the author of twenty books that apparently go way more in depth, just in case someone didn’t get enough from the movie.
So the focus here is that Gramps is going to the South—or Tennessee at least—because he feels that is where liberal secularist humanist professors (his words, not mine) run rampant in colleges. In case no one knew it was supposed to be set there though, one horribly forced accent from a certain actress will clue everyone in quick. In fact, it should be pretty hard to get lost in the plot here with the amount of exposition the script just drops in and repeats, some of it needlessly. The only reason to fear getting lost here is boredom. When discussing the character’s wardrobe choices becomes more interesting than what is going on, things were done poorly.
The actual production of the movie has some good qualities, but those are hard to see when the lack of establishing shots, poor transitions, and bad audio standout so much. It looks good at first for what seems like a lower budget project, but many of the flaws shine through pretty hard. The acting will stand out the most, as it is bad and the main character with the most screen time seems to be the worse at it. This isn’t helped by the dialogue, which is unnatural enough that it makes Kevin Smith’s character interactions seem like everyday conversation. The visuals are out of place and distracting, mostly because of the lack of actors, extras, and scene decoration. There is this horribly weird scene at the beginning of two men standing incredibly close to each other in a tight shot where they feel like the only people in a gym. This is continued throughout the entire movie in the cafeteria, classrooms, and on a tennis court, using a lack of lighting and audio tricks to try and make the areas feel more populated, but it fails. This results in a world that doesn’t feel real or lived in, and makes the characters seem out of place and even more surreal, in a bad way. With all of these things considered, this comes across as a bad college stage play rather than an attempt at a feature film.
“They’re supposed to teach us how to think, but I’m starting to think they’re trying to teach us what to think.”
There are other problems here, ones that will make many people groan and possibly throw things, even past Ty’s arguments. The passing of time over the course of events is never explained and makes some things confusing, but most importantly there is no way this feels like a full semester. The main character doesn’t question why he is being expelled, even though the accusations were false, instead, they make it look like it’s because he is just riling people up too much. The movie seems to try and base itself around the classroom scenes and the back-and-forth between the main character and Professor Tucker, but these moments are honestly too much, just blatant and pandering to the points outside of the plot, and convinced me that no one who had any say in this film had ever been in an actual college classroom. There is a romance angle between the three main students that proposes a conflict but has no resolution, and would have at least been moderately interesting. The film does that a lot, putting in traditional storytelling elements, but not using them. This might be okay and interesting if it actually did ANYTHING else interesting. Towards the beginning, Gramps daughter and granddaughter are brought up, but all of that is answered in another movie—yes, there are more of these, one at least, called In Gramps Shoes, and it is even longer—shudder.
The biggest problem with the film—other than that montage at the end—is Gramps. He’s an unlikable self-centered windbag who likes the sound of his own voice. This man has an answer for everything and likes to flex his intelligence (like calling himself a sexagenarian) for everyone with vocabulary and quotes to show he’s well-read. The character is a Mary-Sue, being good at everything the plot throws with no flaws, so much to the point that even those who don’t like him talk Gramps up as, “a worthy advisory.” He qualified for Mensa, but didn’t join, is a former computer programmer, basketball coach, tennis pro, chess master, runner, and he’s in college but had a degree already, of course. Only thing I could find he sucked as was playing Duck Duck Goose, and not being the one to pray the other character back to life—really. The characters on the other side of the heroes are also shown as having no morals and acting poorly when questioned, just to make Gramps look better I guess. He was so perfect in some parts I was shocked when he didn’t turn out to be an angel or something at the end.
Speaking of the end, I could not wait for this to be over, and one of the people I got to watch it with me on the second viewing threatened to throw me off my own balcony. It was that bad. This thing also has more false endings than the third Lord of the Rings movie, and decides to throw in a scene with some horribly read quotes that was plain awful. Honestly, I can’t believe I sat through this twice, but I am hoping my suffering might keep some viewers away from doing the sa— I don’t know who I’m kidding, none of you guys were going to watch this thing, you’re all smarter than that.