Gramps Reviews

Posted: May 6, 2014 in Film Review

A duo of movies have come out recently revolving around the character of Gramps: “Gramps Goes to College” and “In Gramps Shoes.” Donald James Parker, who plays Gramps, also penned both the screenplays, and his writing is enjoyable and makes both films worth viewing.

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In “Gramps Goes to College,” Ty Bounds, a workaholic computer programmer for 35 years, has retired. No longer forced to work for a living, and looking for a worthwhile way to spend his time, he returns to college and finds himself in a head-to-head war against secular humanism, while mentoring a new generation. Parker is fun to watch, and you can tell he enjoys this character and relishes the lines he’s written. Most of the other actors hold their own as well. Relative newcomer Kaitlin Borst lights up the screen whenever she appears on-camera, and she does a great job as fellow student Michaela Morris. Equally impressive is Courtney Lee Simpson as not-so-agreeable fellow student Stephanie Carter. Her accent sure is fun in an earlier scene between she and her mom (Kera O’Brtyon).

“In Gramps Shoes” details what happens to Ty Bounds after 20 years of praying for his daughter to let him back into her life. He finally gets his wish when the prodigal daughter (Francine Locke) requests his help in dealing with a financial bind and her rebellious teenage son (Andrew Wilson Williams). Ty’s first encounter with his grandson, whom the grandfather has never met, leads to a challenge for a two mile race that alters the courses of both their lives. Again director Chip Rossetti pulls out believable performances from his young and fresh cast. It is always a pleasure to see Francine Locke working the screen, and Andrew Wilson Williams performs his rebellious teen angst quite well. Equally fun to watch is Jeff Rose as Coach Carlson, Grace Eztkorn as his daughter Chelsey, and Brittany Blades as Ty’s granddaughter Sally who takes a liking to grandpa immediately.

There’s quite a bit of proselytizing in both films, but Donald James Parker handles this dialogue with aplomb and for the most part, it’s not too heavy handed. Of course, this kind of dialogue is easier to handle if you are in agreement with what is being said; if not, then the somewhat one-sided argument can be fairly frustrating for the viewer. A big concern I had for both stories are the dramatic twists that come seemingly out of nowhere. I’m all for surprises, but in both cases the core stories are relegated to secondary status as we are taken on a side trip into further, unrelated drama. I for one did not need these big moments, and was quite happy to follow the smaller arcs that were full of drama on their own. And another frustrating aspect was the over abundance of reverse cuts that can be quite disorienting for the audience. They are not quite as frequent in “Gramps Goes to College,” but still fairly prevalent. There were also noticeable moving shadows across subjects at various points.

Some of the other strong points of the two movies, other than good story lines and acting, include great teaching moments involving running, smoking, driving an automobile, even Harry Potter. And “In Gramps Shoes” begins with a very nice opening montage including helicopter shots and beautiful southern scenery. So yes, as independent low-budget Christian films, “In Gramps Shoes” and “Gramps Goes to College” are recommended and definitely worth the watch. Check ’em out.

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