This film takes you back to the realm of Leave it to Beaver and from there tells the story of a young boy who has a crush on a girl who works at the local pizza parlour, and befriends an elderly neighbour who inspires him and all his friends (and enemies) to become devout Christianity. This film does not hide the fact that it is geared towards those who are faithful and are seeking a family friendly story to witness.
I do not take into account the heavy doses of Christian messages in this film when I make my criticisms, I only consider how tedious and seemingly plotless this film is. Many times I cannot tell whether the scenes of the title character’s Bible studies are killing time before we get back to the puppy love story of the young boy and the server he likes, or visa versa. There are several things going on with the characters but nothing hooking it all together aside from the aforementioned bond they find through the Bible. It’s more of a sermon than a film most of the time. I found it very hard to maintain any interest in this story when all it seemed to be doing is either repeating itself or grinding to a dead halt with the main characters’ corny, “geeh whiz,” innocent outlooks on life, where chocolate cake is the height of decadence and jokes about naps made by the local bully are so severe that he needs to completely overhaul his outlook on life.
The main child actors are decent performers, which I find rare in children, so it kind of seems like a shame to offer them nothing in the script for them to really sink their teeth into. They just have to sleepwalk through random life lessons, act as if they are a million times more considerate then I’ve ever known young boys to be, and face a totally unnecessary and depressing death at the end of the film.
Widescreen 1.78:1. We get a solid, clear picture throughout. No question, the visuals are presented very nicely.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English and 2.0 in Spanish. The sound is clear, which is all well and good, but the ambient sounds, such as those in the many diner scenes, are lacking. The score finds its way into all of the speakers, but I was missing the sounds of chatter, cutley etc. in places where they should have been. Not too much immersion here.
(Though I find them all tedious, it is my experience that Special Features are there for fans of the film, not to make new ones…so my rating reflects how I think they would find it).
Behind the Scenes (40-Minute Documentary): Pretty self explanatory and offers what you would expect about the making of this film.
Commentary: Writer/Director Rich Christiano (what a name for a Christian in the entertainment biz…) and actor Gavin MacLeod offer their thoughts and stories.
The Houses of Jonathan Sperry: This should be considered a counter-part to the “behind the scenes” feature. The director shows off the houses he used in the film. Just as friendly and numbingly uninteresting as the film itself.
Interview with the Composer: The man behind the music speaks.
Special Message from the Director: Once again, being forward about how he lives “for Christ” and how this film illustrates those feelings. Just in case we forgot that this is an intensely Christian DVD…and then we get…
Ministries: Two groups advertise their own Christian DVDs and such for those that want more.
Trailers and Promos: Self-Explanatory.
The title confuses me, I thought I should mention that. I suppose it refers to the lessons he offers to the boys, but there is nothing secretive about his faith or what he teaches…anyways. This DVD was not for me, on more level than one. Those that like their entertainment as safe as nerf falling onto foam, then this might rock their world, otherwise don’t consider it for a second.