Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Different Kind of Meaningful

Since I started writing reviews of inspiring, meaningful films for Reel Inspiration, I've struggled with whether to review films with sex, drugs and violence. I know this content puts off some of the Reel Inspiration audience and I certainly don't want to do that. However, these issues are a real part of many people's life journeys. And people find inspiration in many different places.

"The Wackness" is a perfect example of this dilemma. On the one hand,
it is a sweet coming of age story dealing with being disappointed with your parents and with love. On the other hand, the main character, Luke Shapiro, is (gasp!) a drug dealer. The original twist, is that Luke's psychiatrist is one of his best costumers. (Audible gasp!)As the film started, I shuffled uneasily in my seat. This is the kind of film that makes parents (like me) uncomfortable as they contemplate their own teen getting high and having sex. However, the teens in the audience seemed to relate to it. It occurred to me that it must be life affirming to see your experiences reflected on the screen - especially those your parents don't accept.

Josh Peck portrays the drug dealer as a sympathetic character. The film subtly shows the negative ramifications of being a teenage drug dealer. His customers appreciate the drugs, but they never accept the supplier into their party crowd. He is always on the outside. Sex and drugs play an important part of the theme. It seems that the characters can't cope with everyday stress and frustration without self medicating with booze, drugs, or sex. His psychologist (Ben Kingsley living the role) encourages Luke not to numb his pain with prescription drugs, but, "Embrace your pain. Make it a part of you."

Another film I struggled with was "Garden State." The excessive drug use made me uncomfortable
. But the drug use was important to the theme - that in our society we are numbing ourselves with drugs.

There a several powerful films where the main character must hit rock bottom before finding redemption. That often includes doing drugs or getting in dangerous or violent situations. I had a huge breakthrough on my perspective of inspiring films after experiencing, "Crash." "Crash" is loaded with extreme violence, but it is vital to the theme. I left the theater feeling spiritually inspired.

How do I decide if a film qualifies for a Reel Inspiration review? The biggest determining factor is whether I come away from the film feeling some sense of hope or catharsis.
Did the character grow or change? Did the film experience enrich my life?

Now I write reviews of inspiring, meaningful films for a variety of tastes: feel good films, spiritual films,
an exceptional political thriller, smart dramas and comedies. I leave some of the edgier fair to reviewers I trust like Josh Valentine. (See Josh's excellent review below.)

Movie blessings!
Jana Segal
Reel Inspiration's mission is to encourage and promote the production and theatrical success of diverse films with entertaining, powerful stories that uplift, challenge, give hope or inspire the human consciousness.

1 comment:

sonicido said...

Yes, it is important to allow, "room for reality". It would be nice if we lived in a world where "bad things" are not a part of everyday living, but, alas-