Guilty Pleasure No. 34: Healed by Grace (dir by David Weese)

(Hi!  I’m currently in the process of cleaning out my DVR.  I recorded 2012’s Healed By Grace off of channel 58 — that’s a local station down here in Dallas — on March 21st.)

Healed by Grace tells the story of two 19 year-old dancers who have the same last name, despite the fact that they aren’t related and can’t stand each other.

Riley Adams (Natalie Weese) is an extremely sweet, sincere, and good-natured person, her only flaw being that she’s regularly running late and she doesn’t appear to be a very good driver.  Riley is also a committed Christian, the type who gives a college presentation on the historical probability of the Great Flood.  “Bible thumber,” one student says.  “Cute bible thumper,’ another replies.  Riley’s father is constantly telling her to pray for everyone, even the people who she doesn’t necessarily like.

And then there’s Aleah Adams (April Oberlin), who is rude and self-centered and who like totally rocks.  Of course, the film doesn’t acknowledge that she totally rocks, at least not at first.  In fact, I think that we’re supposed to dislike her because she’s always talking about how much better she is than Riley and, when they compete at a regional dance competition, Aleah is not a gracious winner.  When Riley congratulates her, Aleah says that she knew she would win and then taunts Riley over the fact that her father couldn’t come to see her dance…

But here’s the thing.  We get to see both Riley and Aleah dance.  Riley is a boring dancer, with lots of technique but very little passion.  Aleah is a much more wild and creative dancer.  Riley dances to dull piano music.  Aleah dances to EDM.  Riley is St. Photini while Aleah is Salome.  And while neither one of them is really that good (despite the number of times that we’re told that they are the best dancers in the country), Aleah is still a hundred times better than Riley.  And, look, I get what the film was going for.  When their coach asks them how they’re feeling after rehearsal, Aleah says that she knows she’s going to win while Riley says that she feels she did well but she could do better.  I understand.  We’re supposed to love Riley for being humble and resent Aleah for being full of herself and blah blah blah.

But, honestly, modesty is overrated.  If you know you’re good, why shouldn’t you admit it?  Speaking from my own personal experience, confidence is often mistaken for arrogance, in much the same way that determination is often mistaken for being self-centered.  To be truly good at anything, you have to know that you’re good.  Where’s the shame in admitting what you know to be true?

In other words, I related to Aleah, which probably indicates that I’m not audience that this movie was made for.  (Admittedly, Aleah should not have spilled her drinking water on the floor right before Riley started dancing but we all make mistakes.)

Anyway, long story short — Riley gets involved in a horrific traffic accident, spends a few weeks in a coma, and suffers slight brain damage.  Riley is determined to dance again but it becomes obvious that she never will.  However, she finds a new love: horses.  And, when it turns out that Aleah is related to the stablehand that Riley now has a crush on, the two rivals become friends…

In the past, I probably would have been totally snarky about this movie and, while I was watching it, I will admit to rolling my eyes a little.  This is a low-budget and, in many ways, amateurish movie, specifically made for the faith-based market.  This was especially obvious in the dance scenes.  Riley is such an overwhelmingly upbeat character that I found myself getting annoyed with her.

And yet…

The movie’s just so positive!  Normally, I scoff at movies that are too positive in the their outlook but, considering the overwhelming negativity of the world today, it was kind of nice to spend two hours watching a movie that didn’t have a single dark thought in its head.  It was a break, so to speak, from the usual morbidity of my cinematic diet.  It’s a sweet movie and, compared to most faith-based movies, remarkably unpreachy.  Nobody was condemned to Hell.  The Antichrist never showed up.  No unbelievers were punished.  Refreshingly, there were no anti-Catholic conspiracy theories.  Instead, this was a nice movie about a girl and her horse and what’s wrong with that?

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix

29 responses to “Guilty Pleasure No. 34: Healed by Grace (dir by David Weese)

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