Sunday, July 3, 2011

Horrible Non-Horror! Sunday School Musical

I see no shame in film studios doing their darnest to make a buck. It’s a business and for every artEEST’s creation so concerned with quality over commercialism, there are rightfully 23,894 more movies that I’ll willingly give some of my paycheck to, be they The Running Man or Grind.

College phase, what can I say.
Enter The Asylum, the 21st century’s answer to Roger Corman if Roger Corman simply took every successful film two weeks after its release to create a ripoff with a rhyming title. Rare is it that a studio is so proudly honest about its purpose in life, that purpose being spending less than a month putting together something that can kinda sorta be called a movie and releasing it upon a public that might be easily enough fooled into accidentally renting it.
To my limited knowledge, Sunday School Musical is The Asylum’s first entry into the apparently ripe-for-the-picking Christian music market. Add the tie-in of Disneyfied tweens looking for a quick fix and you should have an easy gift certificate of 90 minutes.
Of course, it would help if you cast human beings that actually had pulses.
Quick Plot: Zach is a choir star about to take his team to Regionals (or something; the movie may be pre-Glee but it’s much easier to translate it to New Directions’ terms). Disaster strikes when his mother informs him in the most casual and rushed manner ever that she has lost her job and must therefore IMMEDIATELY relocate the family a town (and church choir!) away. Note that this conversation is spoken in the calmest of manners, as if it’s not supposed to upset Zach in the slightest.

See, Dad’s oversees in the military which leaves us knowing one of the three subplots will eventually unfold:
1-He’s heroically killed in combat at a key point in the film
2-He’ll show up in a proud American uniform just in time for Zach’s big solo
3-He gets eaten by a giant octoshark

If only the DVD included a Choose Your Own Adventure/Final Destination special feature that allows you to alter the reality of the film with your own decisions. Sigh.
Zach ends up in Lameville High where the glee club/choir is very white and tone deaf. Led by Savannah, an Evangeline Lily lookalike without a soul, the group begs Zach to bring his slightly more interesting style to their harmony. Despite a mildly villainous choir nerd and a hard-nosed biblical studies teacher (which, I assume, is the worst sort of biblical studies teacher there is), Zach fits right in, much to the chagrin of his old ethnic pals.

Let’s talk, if you don’t mind, about those pals or more specifically, the non-Showgirls actress with the Showgirls name, Krystle Connor. Connor (not Gina Gershon) plays Dre, the ‘star’ belter of Zach’s old club. We can agree, of course, that cinema history has produced some low energy performances--you know, Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns or Marlon Brando or anything after 1985 that didn’t have a donut-and-cheese-stocked Craft Service Table. Connors makes these people look like they’ve just bathed in a fountain of Red Bull while snorting the leftover stash of Jesse Spano’s caffeine pills. It’s like director Rebecca Goldberg scouted her cast by visiting local school detention sessions and picking whichever delinquents’ parents were willing to sign the consent forms.

By now, you’ve realized that Sunday School Musical is not a very good movie. It proudly joins the ranks of such other Horrible Non-Horror! classics as Tiptoes, Cool As Ice, and another faith-heavy affront to the senses, The Blind Side. Let’s examine why:

-Scenes of dialogue as riveting as the following:
Zach: Hey, how’s it going?
Savannah: Fine
Zach: Is everything okay?
Savannah:’s okay.
End. Scene.
-Scenes that are randomly cut at beats that do absolutely nothing for anyone, leading me to wonder if Goldberg has ADD or narcolepsy
-The fact that not a single performer registers as ever caring about being in a movie. Not-Evangeline Lily does summon a liquid substance to secrete from her eyes during a sudden dramatic scene, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was due to pepper spray or onion scented contact lenses. Lead Chris Chatman isn’t offensively bad, but this is an actor who should probably be cast as the best friend or pizza delivery guy henceforth. 

-The major save-the-rec-center drama is so tired, it literally yawns, falls asleep, snores, and wakes up forgetting what it is. See, Dre’s church is in danger of closing because not enough people are dropping their savings into the collection plate. Zach decides to unite the two choirs for the big competition--which apparently features a $10,000 first prize, something we discover (after it happens) is JUST enough money to keep the church doors open. The brainy quiet girl assures them that it’s perfectly okay in the handbook, but once the team arrives at the competition, the judges decry that it’s not. Rather than open the rule book to cite how IT’S PERFECTLY OKAY, AS WAS ESTABLISHED BY THE DIALOGUE, the choir sighs, quote scripture--

Here’s why, intelligent audience member: the screenwriters have a Thor ripoff to pen, so let’s pull a Footloose and call it a wrap, ‘kay?

The kids get to perform non-competitively, but they are so spectacular (not really) that the winning choir just HANDS THEM THE CHECK. Yes, the $10,000 check which saves the church, lets Zach tepidly kiss Savannah, and signifies the roll of credits.  

Come one people. At least High School Musical had prominent bedazzling. 
Your enjoyment of Sunday School Musical will depend on a few factors:
-Your opinion of lifeless musicals
-Your love of cheap teen drama
-Your level of alcohol consumption

It’s bad in a laughable way, but also rather dull for much of its running time. To me, the absolute blankness is incredibly entertaining in itself, but obviously, such emptiness might not suit your style. If it does, bless your heart and enjoy.


  1. Soo ... are there, like -- songs? Because from your review, I don't get the impression that this Sunday School Musical is much of a musical.

  2. Yes? Yes there totally were, but not a single one has an ounce of memorability to it. Also, all are autotuned in ways that would make even the Brittneyest of Spears blush.

  3. Ugh, I've never understood Marlon Brando's status as 'the greatest actor of all time', the guy was a crazy, greedy fatso who demanded more money for cameo roles than most mercenary's would make instilling a coup in Africa! And he threw coconuts at directors! And the films that he's most known and lauded for, you could count on the single hand of a workers comp self-mutilator!

    An octoshark? haha, that's so ridiculous and stupid, now, as I'm currently on a boat writing this, I'll go out and admire the oceanic view...

  4. Beware the octosharktobrando! It eats boats and spits them out in coconut form!

  5. Where do you find these movies? Goes without saying every big pop culture meme needs it's sub products for even massive reach: Think The Wiz... Sounds like I would be bored in the first 5 minutes.

  6. Good point on The Wiz. I do love how, just like the actual Wizard of Oz, that movie has some seriously creepy-to-a-5-year-old scenes.

  7. Had to leave a comment. (I'm "mydlands" on Palavr.) I your comment about the dad in the service. Sure enough, he conveniently showed up.

    I thought this was a bad movie in the sense of "yes, it's bad, but I'm watching it because of its badness."

    And here comes the ranting...
    So the guy is going to a private Christian school when the move. Yeah, well, if I'd just lost my job, private school would be the first thing to go. So in an effort to make sense (a horrible thing to want, I guess...) even a passing line that he'd gotten sponsored or had a low-income scholarship to attend his new school would have worked wonders.

    Also, the white kids could not sing. I actually liked when they started that they were so bad because it's like how a lot of high school groups really sound without movie polish. So they are horrible and don't listen to each other. Savannah can't get them to blend for the life of her. So later when she's yelling at Aundrea for not blending, I wasn't having it. Yes, there are plenty of singers who wouldn't know choral blend if it bit them, but let's be honest that Savannah probably doesn't know it, either. If she did, maybe her group would have sounded better to start with.

    Yup... I told you I had rants. And yet my bestie who is a tenor in a top choir in Austin, Texas wants to see this now.

  8. Let's face it: if you're even remotely glee club geekish and you hear this title, you really have mo choice but to see it. And you know, I didn't even think of the whole 'private schools cost money' thing. But asking the filmmakers to think about seems like an awful big request, doncha think?

    I love my filmed in two weeks movies! Thanks for the comment mydlands!