Thursday, February 2, 2017

Original Movie Review: Emma's Chance

Instead of a typical quote pulled from the movie, I'm going to provide this link instead:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Cliche

What is it? Direct-to-DVD/Streaming "Family" movie
Where did it air? Well given what I just said.... And given that the production studio and crew behind this movie are both a bit too gospel-preachy and too obscure for most networks to want to pick it up, your best bet is to either wait for it to be inevitably picked up by GTV in all that network's 480p glory, or just rent the damn movie already (or do what I did and pick it up for free from your local library because I sure as hell ain't paying actual cash to watch this).

Who stars in it? By far the biggest names in it are going to be Ryan McCartan - yes, the very same, along with former Haunted Hathaways star Amber Montana Frank and AwesomenessTV super starlet (or at least what passes for it) Lia Marie Johnson. Oh and Missi Pyle is in it too. Joey Lawrence gets an "and" credit though I'm struggling to remember who Joey Lawrence even is (was he one of the guys from Friends?)
Why are we reviewing it? Well the family theme and the star roster alone justifies it being on this blog, but mostly I just wanted to complain and bitch about how much of a cliche-ridden waste of time this whole movie was.

And I'm really not kidding about it. It's quite literally wall-to-wall cliches from credit roll to credit roll, from the paint-by-numbers plot of the main character (played by Greer Grammer who apparently had a role in Awkward, a series I'll admit I've never seen) and how she got in trouble sneaking into a horse farm and now has to serve a "punishment that fits the crime" taking care of the horses on said farm and of course falls in love with them, to the "wrong kind of best friend" who steers Emma into trouble in the first place (and of course the Trojan Mean Girl has to be a redhead, played by Shanna Strong who no less is the exact same actress who's the redhead in the Bella episode mentioned in the linked review), to the potential New Mean Girl/Rival at the horse farm who nonetheless Emma gets to warm up to (who incidentally is named Lexi, a name reserved strictly for stuck-up Alpha Bitches - played by Christina Robinson BTW, whose biggest role so far is on Dexter apparently. And no, not the Laboratory Dexter either, the stabby, once narrated commercials for Dodge with invisible monkies-one) to the out-from-nowhere evil rich bad guy who wants to - not even buy the whole horse farm but just a specific horse so that...just so that he can abuse the animal? Um, hell, ever heard of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? Yeah maybe instead of fretting about Booty McBlackHat maybe you should just call those guys on him.

This is probably the most cliche-riddled movie I've seen in a long time (and given what we review on this blog, that says a lot) and the most cliche-riddled movie I've seen of the year so far, for sure. So cliche and predictable, in fact, that you feel like you've already seen this movie before within the first eight minutes. There are literally no surprises, not even the failed jump scare when one of Emma's friends surprises her when they first trespass onto the horse farm. The biggest issue with this movie simply lies at its very narrative core and at the feet of the studio and creative crew responsible for it - they're so wrapped up in telling a specific message and in particular a specific moral that...well, it's not so much an issue that they've forgotten to actually tell a narrative and a story as so much as it's painfully obvious they just don't feel any real obligation to. This isn't a movie that families watch together as so much as parents force-feed their pre-tween children even if it means having to do so to themselves, not so much for its face-value entertainment qualities as so much as that it's strictly an alternative to more "hardcore" and "wrongly influential" entertainment options out there - including Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. In other words, you don't watch this movie to be entertained, you watch it in the hopes that it can somehow turn your children into upstanding moral characters in place of, you know, actual parenting.

I'm all for entertainment that feels good and makes you warm and fuzzy inside, especially if a lot of the more mainstream entertain options out there...well, even if they're not necessarily overly violent to the point of distasteful as so much as you're just not in the mood for that type of thing (like, say, you're recovering from cancer and your alcoholic redheaded rape-survivor ex-fiancee just broke up with you). But having a movie or plot that's all feel-good with a whole bunch of big nothing to go along with it and having everything be a cliche down to the very characters and nothing but ends up being self-defeating. That's not entertainment, that's just a bore-fest. Nobody likes a bore-fest.

I mean, it's not like we've had any recent examples of say TV shows on Disney Channel for example that have tried to go for a moralistic message or life lesson at the expense of everything else and risking being a cliche-riddled slogfest as a result. Especially not ones that are banking on overwhelming nostalgia factor to help buoy any shortcomings, and certainly that wouldn't attract a poisonous fanbase that would throw rotten tomatoes not only at said show but all the other shows on the network brought to their attention as well along with more than a few squarely aimed at the fandoms of those other shows.

Nope, not familiar with any such specific examples like that at all. 

Movie Grade: A flat D. This is exactly the type of movie this grade exists for. Other than for the eye candy which I'll get to right after this (and really, even I have to admit if you're watching the movie just for that you really are watching it for all the wrong reasons) there's absolutely is nothing, nada, zilch reason whatsoever to watch this movie for - it's a time-waster, nothing more.
Movie MVP: I know that my tendency for going off on the occasional feminist, SJW-slant rant in reviews and then assigning Episode/Movie MVP to whatever actresses I just happen to find the most attractive really tends to undermine things, and this year I resolve to try to do less of that.

But, whatever, this review isn't going to be the place for that at all, sorry.

Movie MVP gets to be a five-way tie between Shanna Strong, Christina Robinson, Greer Grammar, Amber Montana Frank and Lia Marie Johnson, all for being ridiculously attractive in true Young Hollywood fashion (especially, umm...when they're wearing those riding pants. Even I have to admit, someone with a feminist tint should probably redesign those things to be, well, less objectifying). Oh, and there's also Dove Cameron's ex-fiancee if you want eye candy for female viewers, I guess. Apparently this Joey Lawrence is a thing too? I mean, to his credit he really does look like the cancer-free frickin' Marlboro Man. As for actual acting skill that award goes to absolutely no one because I'm assuming the director was going for that "community theater" vibe.

Extra Thoughts

  - Oddly enough Christina Robinson and Shanna Strong are a redhead and blonde respectively in real-life even though their hair colors are swapped for this movie. Yeah, I'm the type of person who will note that kind of thing, in case you haven't learned by now.

 - I was a bit nervous about naming some of the MVPs as MVPs based solely on how attractive they are given that I don't want to promote underaged girls as eye candy - you know, given all the "I was a teacher" and "my ex-finacee got raped as a kid" stuff I keep carrying on about (the whole eye candy thing period is pushing it enough as it is). I know Amber and Lia are in their early 20s and Christina is the youngest at 19 going on 20 (I can't find Shanna's age but given her lengthy filmography and the ages of the other girls I feel it's a safe bet). Greer's potential age made me the most nervous of all given how she seems to be quite visibly younger than her peer female costars so I went and looked it up just to be sure and Sweet Baby Gee-Buzz she's damn near close to my own age.

 - Also to her credit she really does look like Live-Action Elsa.

 - The movie makes a big point (for about two seconds) about Emma trying to find a female farrior (that's the person who makes and puts on horse shoes to horses). It seems a bit odd that the movie has to have her specifically looking for a female farrior and give that special attention - why not just have her look for a farrior period and then just show the female farrior do her thing nailing shoes to horses (or file them down, as the case was)?

 - One of these days maybe I'll write a more comprehensive essay on the whole feel good overdose genre since much of the bad rep and image both Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stem from exactly this kind of thing.

 - Maybe one of these days I'll write an essay on redheads too. Maybe soon since Hug a Ginger Day is coming up pretty quick.

 - Or not since it was last month, oops.

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