Director(s): Roman White
Writer(s): Kali Bailey, Alan Powell, Gabe Vasquez
Cast: Bailee Madison, Kevin Quinn, David Koechner
Synopsis: Nowhere left to go, Will Hawkins finds himself at camp for the first time. His instinct is to run, but he finds a friend, a father figure, and even a girl who awakens his heart. Most of all, he finally finds a home.
The faith-based genre has been a difficult one to tap into over the years. For the most part, the kind of films are extremely in your face and can push an agenda while having little to nothing to hold onto from the film. In my professional opinion, faith-based films are the hardest to pull off because you have to be able to juggle many different topics, while also trying to appeal to an audience that may not share the same ideas like the ones in the film. This leads to many of these films usually falling fairly flat outside of the obvious religion-based storytelling.
A Week Away, however, is one of the few faith-based films that I have seen that is able to really work on many different levels. That’s because A Week Away isn’t purely a movie about faith. Whether it be finding your faith, finding love, or just finding yourself, there is something in this film that anyone, religious or not, can relate to. It’s a juggling act that many of these types of films can’t pull off, but for director Roman White’s film, he manages to juggle them fairly well.
One of the biggest reasons this movie worked is because of the fact it doesn’t push religion down your throat. As Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn) says when he first gets to camp, “Wait you didn’t tell me this was church camp.” You can clearly pick up on the religious aspects of the films fairly early, but once it establishes itself as a “religious” movie, it backs off. From then on, you are able to watch a fun movie about summer camp, with the religious aspects sprinkled in. It is able to stand on itself so well that I think even if you took the religious aspects out of the film, you still are able to watch a fun movie. You are having a great time watching the relationship unfold between Will and Avery (Bailee Madison), watching Will discover himself, and frankly just watching all these people have fun and play camp games like flag football, the blob, and, my favorite one, paintball (which never knew this was a camp game until this film, but I love it).
This film had an ability to feel natural, and like a well-told sermon, this film is able to relate religion to everyday life. One of the most naturalistic aspects of the film was the relationship that was formed between Will and Avery. When they first meet they might as well be polar opposites, but the more the film goes on, the more you can see how much they need each other in different ways. The chemistry between Bailee and Kevin, who both were really good in this, was undeniable. They were able to play off each other in some fun ways but also were able to really get into each other’s characters. Their moments together were some of the best the film had to offer, and they each carried this film really well.
Roman White directed one of my favorite music videos of the last 10 years (Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me”, which was shot in my hometown), so going into it I knew the music would be a highlight of the film. I am a massive sucker when it comes to musicals, and this film was no different. The songs were performed extremely well, and the dance routines were just as good. The music was able to hit many different notes in this film going from fun, to hilarious, to honest, and really help advance the story like a musical is supposed to do. It added another layer to an already fun film and gave it the extra oomph it needed to be a full-on blast of a movie.
I really think there is so much you can find in this film. Whether it is an intimate message or a fun ride, I think this film is able to hit on so many different levels. It’s definitely more suited for kids (has a very strong Camp Rock feel to it) which might turn some people away. Some situations and characters are childlike and the comedy, at times, does feel more geared towards a younger audience. But, there is also a deeper level to the film, that adults should really be able to gravitate towards and find something of value within the movie.
Final: A Week Away is a music-filled blast for the whole family. This film is able to tell a story about finding religion, finding love, and finding yourself in a way that is fun and naturalistic. Anyone, religious or not, should be able to find enjoyment and a message within this film.
My Interview With Bailee Madison and Kevin Quinn
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.