SAM AND ELVIS: EXCELLENT PRO-LIFE INDIE ABOUT A TEEN, HER AUNT AND A STUFFED DOG *

SHORT TAKE:

Well made indie film about the relationship between a foster teen, her eccentric aunt, and a pro-life message.

WHO SHOULD GO:

Older teens and up for some mild cussing but mostly for the conversation and plot topics of family violence and teen sexuality.

LONG TAKE:

Who would have thought you could make a charming (mostly) family friendly comedy about a dead dog, an abused foster child, and her eccentric aunt. Well writer-director Jeffrey Ault manages to do just that in the movie Sam and Elvis. Based on Susan Price Monnot’s play titled Dead Dogs Don’t Fart, the story is about a bright but defensive and hostile orphaned foster teenager named Samantha played by Marcela Griebler placed in the care of her Aunt Olina played by Sally Daykin who in turn lives alone with her taxidermied dog Elvis.

This little indie film starts off a bit clunky as Olina expresses her doubts to Elvis, avoids an incessantly ringing phone and eats the random junk food she finds about her cluttered home. However, it finds its footing quickly once the aunt and her ward are brought together and bounce their strong personalities against each other.

The acting demands occasionally become significant but newcomer Griebler holds her own. Rounding out the cast are Pete Penuel as Larry, Olina’s platonic friend and Sara Hood as Rebecca, the well-intentioned and overly sincere but somewhat inept social worker who serves as occasional comic relief.

Ault uses simple and natural settings and clothes that likely came out of the actors own wardrobes. This is to the plus, as the focus is correctly placed on the relationships involved. The other production values like cinematography, sound and the background music are sterling and perfectly meet the mood of this small gem filmed almost entirely within Olina’s house.

People speak their minds in Sam and Elvis. No polite pussy footing around impolite or bad behavior. No tip toeing around differences of opinion. And in this there is a large plus in the negative.

What I mean by that is – despite circumstances which emerge in the plot, which I won’t divulge but you can easily guess, at no time does anyone consider abortion as an option for anyone. At no time is it suggested that an unborn baby is merely a “fetus” or some other euphemism for unborn child, which circumlocution liberals and pro-death dealers fling around like a shield to disguise the holocaust level murders they champion. A baby is called a baby regardless of whether it is in or out of a womb. And that is a breath of fresh air.

There is a bit of mild cussing sprinkled throughout and the topics of domestic abuse and teen sexuality make Sam and Elvis inappropriate for younger teens. But the powerful message of familial bonds and respect for life shine forward making Sam and Elvis a definitely should-see film.

* AND IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS MOVIE PLEASE CHECK OUT UNPLANNED – THE STORY OF ABBY JOHNSON, THE FORMER ABORTION ACTIVIST AND DIRECTOR OF THE PLANNED PARENTHOOD FACILITY IN BRYAN, TEXAS, WHO CONVERTED TO THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT IN ONE EPIPHANAL MOMENT.

UNPLANNED: THE SCHINDLER’S LIST OF OUR TIME

SHORT TAKE:

Based upon her own testimony, the powerful biography of Abby Johnson’s conversion from Director of Planned Parenthood to passionate and eloquent pro-life advocate.

WHO SHOULD GO:

Adults and mature older teens only! There are brutally honest and accurate scenes of the trauma women go through when they are enduring an abortion, including blood, pain and one ultrasound viewed suction abortion of a 13 week old unborn baby. BUT THIS MOVIE MUST BE SEEN BY THOSE WHO CAN, TO BEAR WITNESS AS THE NAZI DEATH CAMP SURVIVORS DID – so these atrocities will cease and never happen again.

LONG TAKE:

God loves to MacGyver us. You remember that guy with the old 1985 TV show who could stop a sulfuric acid leak with a chocolate bar or a nuclear bomb with a paper clip? MacGyver would take stuff that you would find in a garbage dump and make amazing things out of it.

Well, God took mud and made creatures that He would die for and call His children. He took a farm girl named Joan and put her at the head of a successful army.  He took a Christian-persecuting Pharisee named Saul and made him one of the most famous disciples of Christ.

SPOILERS!

abbyAnd he took a woman named Abby Johnson, one of the youngest directors and Employee of the Year of a large Houston Planned Parent abattoir and converted her into one of the most passionate and resolute pro-life advocates in the world.

Unplanned is about Abby’s transformation from a dekudedPlanned Parenthood functionary, who self-deludes into believing she is protecting “women’s rights,” to the modern equivalent of the afore-referenced Saint Paul. The movie starts with the morning of the event which removes the “scales” from her eyes. covert2The title refers, not just to the pregnancies on which Planned Parenthood feeds, but the sudden and unexpected illumination of Abby’s soul.

This is not a movie for children or the faint of heart. But it is required watching for anyone concerned about the butchering of millions of children through the abortion factory known as Planned Parenthood.

Ashley Bratcher, who was, ironically, almost aborted herself, IS Abby Johnson, in a measured and powerful performance, despite being warned by friends that if she accepted this part she might never get another acting job. Brooks Ryan portrays Doug, Abby’s second husband. As presented in the movie, Doug is a Hosea figure: married, devoted and unconditionally loving to a spiritually broken woman, and doug comnfortingwho is instrumental in her healing through God’s grace and his commitment to their marriage. 40 days 3Jared Lotz plays Shawn Carney and Emma Le Roberts portrays Marilisa, his wife, who head up 40 Days for Life. Marilisa befriended Abby despite their diametrically opposed positions on abortion, as she and the other 40 Days members prayed outside the fence.40 days2In reality, representatives from 40 Days were a constant presence, praying daily and for years, outside of Abby’s abortion mill, from the day Planned Parenthood broke ground on the property they bought under the false pretense of an assumed name, until the day they finally closed their doors over eight long years later.

The film pulls no punches. Planned Parenthood hands out RU-486, the glibby nicknamed “Morning After” pills, like one might Tylenol and Unplanned is not shy about showing the effects on a pregnant woman. Abby, herself, was a personal victim of this horror, taking one to “get rid of” her second child by her first husband. The crippling pain and profuse bleeding are accurately portrayed as she writhes in agony on the bathroom floor. The pill is not at all the gentle “flushing” of her uterus that was described to her by the very Planned Parenthood clerks with whom she later works. The scene is brutal but accurate and honest.

In addition, be aware that a suction abortion on a 13-week old baby is viewed through an ultrasound. ultrasoundAlthough “sanitized” by the “animated” nature of the ultrasound, it is, nonetheless, difficult to watch.

These are not pretty sights, but they are as necessary as a walk through the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. or a viewing of Schindler’s List. Any community who does not bother to be aware of what goes on behind those blood soaked doors, who does not have the courage to bear witness, and who does not speak out against abortion, is a community of accessories to infant slaughter. What Jesus said of those who would not hear the words of His disciples come to mind and I wonder if: “… it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.”

40 daysThe writers/directors/producers Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, friends since childhood, experienced Hollywood film makers and Catholics, had to walk forward on faith. At no one time did have all the money they needed, only receiving funding a week at a time, but trusted that God would provide,  as He did with manna for the Israelites in the desert. But provide He did in the commitment of the cast and crew regardless of whether or not they thought they would be paid.

A real life convert is in the film as well: Dr. Anthony Levatino, a certified OBGYN, portrays the doctor performing the abortion at the time of Abby’s conversion moment. He, by his own estimation, is guilty of committing over 1,200 abortions before becoming a pro-life advocate.

But for all this the movie is not grim. There are many heroes and examples of positive relationships which obviously informed Abby’s decision: abby familyAbby and Doug’s love story for one; Abby’s steadfast pro-life parents, who prayed unceasingly for her conversion, wereportrayed beautifully by Robin DeMarco and Robert Thomason; Kaiser Johnson as Jeff, their gaudy-billboard, but staunchly pro-life and center-of-calm attorney, brings humor to the script when it is most needed; and little Andee Grace Burton, who adorably portrays Grace, Abby and Doug’s oldest child.

On set, during the filming, knowing, as they put it, there would be spiritual warfare going on during the making of the movie, there was a prayer team made up of Catholic priests and nun, evangelicals and other denominations. The film makers found this devotion so effective in creating a calm and peaceful work environment that they now include this as a line-item budget in all of their movies!

Lila Rose is a long standing pro-life advocate who has done courageous undercover investigative reporting for years, exposing Planned Parenthood’s complicity in facilitating statutory rape.  Rose appears in a cameo as a reporter who interviews Abby’s malignant boss, Cheryl, who, in turn is played with creepy authenticity by Robia Scott.

So – go see Unplanned if it is in your community. Request it if it is not. Buy the DVD. Show it to friends. Be a witness. Save a life. Save a soul.