This story/review first appeared in two other publications.
What happens when a God-honoring romantic movie is released on the same weekend as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” one of the most sexually exploitive (and popular) stories of our time?
We’re about to find out.
The faith-based movie is “Old Fashioned,” a Valentine’s Day weekend film that turns everything America believes about dating on its head and proves that true romance is found in upholding biblical values, not following trashy novels.
It tells the story of a Christian single man who has developed “old-fashioned” views of dating, years after a promiscuous college life. His theories about romance are put to the test when he meets a free-spirited young woman who is new in town and who is taken aback by his “outdated” beliefs. For starters, he refuses to be alone with her at her apartment. There obviously is mutual interest, but can they make a traditional courtship work in modern-day America?
I watched it and simply loved it. The acting is top-notch and the storyline fun and compelling. It’s probably the only romance movie that I not only enjoyed but also cheered.
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It was written and directed by Rik Swartzwelder, who said he wanted to make a movie telling the story of Christian singles who are swimming against the cultural tide in trying to find romance. Most faith-based romance movies, he said, are either set in the 1800s or on an Amish farm.
He wrote the story at a time when he and his single friends were looking to find mates. Swartzwelder stars in the lead role.
“No one had really ever seen a romantic drama that told our story,” he told me. “We never saw a movie about a bunch of singles who loved God and wanted to honor God, but were looking to fall in love and get married. I started thinking: What if you took two 30-somethings who had a history, who have baggage, and you have a character who was trying to honor God after the fact?”
The movie—well-received thus far in audience screenings—initially was set for release last fall. But when Universal announced it was pushing out “Fifty Shades of Grey” over Valentine’s Day weekend, Swartzwelder and others decided to delay the release of “Old-Fashioned.” Variety and Time magazine each have taken note of the David vs. Goliath worldview clash.
“We actually think this could be a gift from God,” Swartzwelder said of the timing. “This is a real opportunity to push the cultural discussion.”
The church, too, needs to hear the film’s message, Swartzwelder said. He once did a survey of women—Christian and non-Christian—and asked them two questions: Could you describe your perfect date? Could you describe your perfect mate?
Both Christians and non-Christians gave nearly identical answers, he said. For a date, they wanted romance. But for a mate, they gave different answers: someone who is faithful, someone who is honest, someone who is good with kids.
“Everything about American culture trains us to be good dates, not necessarily good mates,” he said. “We’re experts at wooing.”
Swartzwelder intentionally wrote the story to include singles whose sexual past was not pure.
“We wanted to hold up a godly standard,” he said. “But we didn’t want to heap guilt on anyone who has made mistakes, who already feels broken and already feels like love has passed them by. Life isn’t neat and tidy for everybody.”
“Old Fashioned” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements. It opens in more than 200 theaters, and if it does well, likely will expand to more screens. Go see it. It contains no language, nudity or explicit sexuality. It deals with adult themes but not in an exploitive way.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes stove top popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public). Also, check out my video section.
Thanks Michael for your review on the movie. My wife and I drove an hour away to watch the movie last night. We really enjoyed it. Although the screenplay and acting (on “Clay’s” part) could have been more engaging, still the movie was very good. I liked that the movie did not gloss over the struggles and conflicts the characters had with their past. It was a movie you could watch and not say afterwards, “it was a great move…except for ___, ___ and ___.
One thing I didn’t like is that the movie is marketed as a “Christian answer” to 50 Shades. I never want to watch 50 shades (and it’s grieving that so many seem to love the movie), but this movie would be better evaluated on its own merit. Drawing comparisons simply brings out the invective of reviewers who personally have no moral problems with 50 Shades (but maybe that is the point after all?).
Thanks for the comment. From my understanding, they made “Old Fashioned” without “50 Shades” on their mind, and then realized long after “Old
Fashioned” was finished that the film could benefit by going up against “50 Shades.” The trailer I posted above was part of that strategy. And I think it worked. Old Fashioned had a strong opening weekend. I wouldn’t call it a “Christian answer” to “50 Shades,” though. It was made as a stand-alone movie. I don’t think the writer even had 50 Shades on his mind. One thing that has been overshadowed is that about one in four mainstream reviewers actually liked it. That’s the same percentage as “50 Shades!” 🙂