While I am a Christian, I generally try to avoid talking about religion on a blog about entertainment. For this month though, I’m making an exception to the rule. I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year by making fun of some cheesy, yet mostly optimistic Christian movies. Let’s kick this off with Second Glance, a 1992 straight to video movie by the Christiano Film Group.
I couldn’t find much about this movie online. In fact, it doesn’t even have a dedicated Wikipedia page, and searching for it redirects you to the movie’s director, Rich Christiano. He and his twin brother Dave co-own the Christiano Film Group, which has been making Christian movies since 1986. Yet this movie became a bit of a meme with its freeze-frame ending right here.
The only cast member I could find any information about is David A.R. White, who stars as Dan. David grew up in a very conservative Mennonite church, and in the first 18 years of his life, he only ever saw one movie. After turning 19, he moved to LA, where he appeared in a number of TV shows and low-budget movies. While most of his film and TV appearances are in Christian content, he also appeared in Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Space: Above and Beyond (a sci-fi series that aired on Fox), and a number of other CBS sitcoms.
This movie is best described as It’s a Wonderful Life, but with Christian themes. Dan is getting tired of feeling left out of parties, being teased by the school delinquents, not having a girlfriend, and always trying to live a perfect life. One night, he wishes that he never became a Christian. He’s granted that wish for one day, to see how his life would be different if he never became a believer. It shows that on the one hand, he’s got more freedom, he’s popular with the ladies, and he even owns a car. On the other hand, he’s always getting into trouble (not just because his best friends are the delinquents), his parents are divorced, and his little sister was never even born.
There are darker reveals later in the movie that I’d rather not spoil. While Second Glance’s message feels a bit exaggerated at times, it does a good job at showing how much of an influence one person can have, both good and bad. While the movie’s main message is that Dan is a much better person as a Christian than a non-believer, it’s a message that still works. Sometimes, even a bit of kindness can have a huge impact on someone … more than you may realize.
This movie has all of the hallmarks of a low-budget Christian movie from the early 90s. It’s meant for people who already believe, so the movie doesn’t shove the gospel down your throat like some do. There is no high quality version available, as it’s possible the very cameras they used were budget models. The acting ranges from wooden to cheesy. The music is mostly a cheap rendition of the hymn Hallelujah, which I first heard from Mr. Bean.
If you’re in the right mood though, that all adds to the charm. While the influence Dan has over his family, his fellow students, and his teachers definitely feels exaggerated, it’s not to the point of absurdity. It’s an overall optimistic, harmless movie. While the movie’s intended message is to be a Christian, it can just as easily be taken as “be a good person”. And if nothing else, that closing freeze frame is amusing. For that reason, it’s kind of hard to make fun of this movie too much. The memes and cheesiness speak for themselves.
Next week, I’ll be looking at a movie that doesn’t really have a message. It’s a comedy by a Christian band I grew up on. I haven’t fully decided on the full lineup yet, but I’m planning on looking at Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas on the weekend of Christmas, which may be the most pro-commercialism Christian movie in history. I’m considering Left Behind (the first one, not the Nicolas Cage one) as the New Year’s movie review, but that leaves one week open for now. One of the the other movie I’m considering is a bit out there.