A movie review of “Old Fashioned”: This faith-based romantic comedy is slow and preachy and stars the director, Rik Swartzwelder, who does better work behind the camera. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
The faith-based film “Old Fashioned” is a slow, preachy romantic comedy opening Valentine’s Day week opposite “Fifty Shades of Grey,” counterprogramming “love” that’s kinky with love from Corinthians.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud …”
But pride, or pricing, is the film’s worst enemy. The writer-director, perhaps for reasons of economy (surely not vanity), cast himself as the romantic lead. And Rik Swartzwelder, competent behind the camera, is an utter stiff on screen.
Movie Review ★½
‘Old Fashioned,’ with Elizabeth Roberts, Rik Swartzwelder, LeJon Woods, Lindsay Heath, Tyler Hollinger. Written and directed by Swartzwelder. 115 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some thematic material. Several theaters.
Elizabeth Roberts is Amber, bubbly and upbeat, even as she runs out of gas in small-town Ohio. She uses her last cash for fuel to get her Jeep Cherokee off the road. There’s an upstairs apartment above Old Fashioned, an antiques store where the meticulous and quiet Clay (Swartzwelder) presides.
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He’s an odd one. Her heart-melting smiles don’t seem to move him. He won’t do a walk-through of the apartment with her. Clay has resolved to “never be alone with any woman who’s not my wife.” He quotes the Bible; starts a lot of sentences about dating, love and romance with “I have a theory”; and is a general stick-in-the-mud. Naturally, Amber is intrigued.
On their first date, he drags her to his pastor and picks up copies of a Christian relationship workbook. He fires off questions from the book that predict compatibility — “Do you believe in the death penalty? How many sexual partners have you had in the past 10 years?”
When Amber doesn’t run, run, run from this self-righteous bore, we cannot help but think, “It’s only a movie.”
To his credit, Swartzwelder doesn’t people this world with anyone as one-dimensional as his character. There’s the ex-classmate shock jock (Tyler Hollinger) leaving town for the Big Time, and best friend David (LeJon Woods) “living in sin.” This is a faith-based romance set in something like the real world.
Even Clay’s behavior has real-world underpinnings. He’s a prime example of the Big Mistake Theory — people who do some great wrong or perceived wrong and who suddenly embrace religion, a little more firmly than the rest of us.
But Swartzwelder’s Clay lacks the charisma, charm or animation that would catch anybody’s eye. And it doesn’t help that the actor dresses and wears the haircut of a 40-something preacher trying too hard to look younger and hipper.