As an author of contemporary Christian young adult fiction, I’ve often dropped book and movie recommendations that fans of the genre may adore as much as I do; however, somehow I’ve neglected to gush about one of my absolute favorite clean teen movies: Grace Unplugged! I recommend you grab some popcorn and put this film on your to-be-watched list immediately!
Grace Unplugged centers around 18-year-old Grace Trey who dreams of becoming a famous pop artist. Her father, Johnny Trey, was a one-hit wonder who shot to stardom at a young age, got caught up in the murky limelight, and eventually came to know God. Now a music leader at their church, Johnny is trying his best to teach Grace that her gift should be used for God’s glory, and not her own. When Grace convinces her dad’s former producer to take her on as a client after re-recording her dad’s song “Misunderstood”, will she find satisfaction on the world’s stage?
The Cast and Acting
One of my favorite aspects about Grace Unplugged is the stellar cast and how their acting skills shine in the film. If you were a teen in the late 2000s/early 2010s, you’ll recognize AJ Michalka as part of the sister music duo Aly & AJ (also known as 78violet), and from the Disney Channel Original Movie, Cowbelles. AJ does a phenomenal job playing the part of a well-intentioned dreamer who is struggling to make sense of God’s role in following her dreams. I loved how Grace’s clash with her father (played by James Denton) was portrayed in a realistic way. I’ve seen former classmates in my hometown struggle with their parents in similar ways, and felt the portrayal was spot-on. Michael Welch, who Grace meets on her quest to stardom, also does a stand-out job playing a Christ-centered young man who tries his best to be the friend Grace needs in her time of spiritual struggle. Cameo appearances by Jamie Grace and Christ Tomlin also make for a fun film if you’re familiar with the contemporary Christian artists.
Christ-Centered, Yet Still Realistic
I would like to commend Lionsgate for making a mainstream film that honors God without sugarcoating the harsh realities of the world. Like with Christian fiction, some Christian films often lack a certain grittiness, and portray the world in some sort of perfect, Hallmark-esque light. Grace Unplugged portrays the music industry for what it is, including the dark aspects of dating around and using your body for fame, as well as underage partying and drinking. Not only did this make for a unique premise as a Christian film, but it challenges the audience to consider if they’re allowing their own dreams to become the center of their lives instead of God. If you’re looking for a clean teen movie with substance, this is it.
Okay, so sometimes movies about chasing music dreams have hideous soundtracks, but that is not the case with Grace Unplugged. The original songs (even Johnny Trey’s secular one) are well written and tie in perfectly with the film’s overall message. Other well-known Christian songs are covered–both contemporary hits and classic hymns–which make for a well-rounded soundtrack. This film is currently eight years old, and I still listen to some songs from the track list regularly. ❤
Whether you’re looking for an entertaining movie about the music industry, or you’re trying to find a clean movie for teens, I highly recommend watching Grace Unplugged. I’ve watched it more times than I can count.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
Have you seen Grace Unplugged? What was your favorite part of the movie? What other Christian movies do you recommend for teens? Let me know in the comments!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.