A Week Away: A Disappointing Attempt at a Christian Musical
Netflix’s recent release, A Week Away, falls short in its attempts to impress viewers by presenting a Christian musical reminiscent of Disney Channel original movies. The film seems to consist of two distinct parts. The first part is a somewhat watchable but incredibly predictable romantic comedy that tells the story of Will Hawkins, a teenage delinquent sent to a juvenile detention center after stealing a police car. In a last-ditch effort to help Will, his counselor decides to send him to Camp Aweegaway with a foster family. It is at this camp that Will falls in love with Avery, the daughter of the camp owner. However, the second part of the film takes an unexpected turn with the introduction of Christian musical elements. Camp members break out into song to preach about The Bible and God’s healing power. The combination of these two elements results in a half-formulaic teen rom-com and a half-annoying musical that desperately tries to emulate the success of Camp Rock and High School Musical.
A Detached Approach to Christianity
One cannot help but question the decision to make A Week Away a musical. The songs, which are few and far between, are the only moments when the film addresses Christianity. This detachment from the overarching theme is jarring and fails to contribute meaningfully to the storyline. Instead of enhancing character development and advancing the plot, the musical numbers disrupt the flow of the movie. For instance, upon arriving at the camp, Will and his foster brother George are greeted with a song praising the greatness of the camp and The Lord. While this could have been an opportunity to develop Will’s character, it instead distracts the audience with poorly executed and choreographed musical sequences. Furthermore, many of the songs lack inspiration and bear a striking resemblance to those found in Disney Channel movies, such as High School Musical’s “We’re All In This Together.” The inclusion of these underwhelming songs undermines the narrative cohesion of the film.
Moreover, A Week Away falls into the trap of mainstream Christian movies that attempt to imitate popular films while incorporating their distinct biblical messages. Gabriel Sabloff’s Beckman comes to mind as a clear example. Beckman borrows heavily from Taken, revolving around a contract killer turned reverend who seeks to save her kidnapped daughter and exact revenge. However, the incorporation of biblical messaging feels forced and out of place, rendering the film robotic and out-of-touch. The most effective Christian films are those that encourage audiences to challenge their faith and engage with religious themes indirectly. Recent works, such as Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his Justice League cut, successfully explore these questions. Unfortunately, A Week Away fails to present a thought-provoking examination of faith. Instead, it uses Christianity solely as a means to promote a one-sided view of the religion.
The protagonists of A Week Away rarely discuss God outside of their musical numbers. These sporadic singing moments, however, solely focus on praising the name of God. It would have been more believable if the characters frequently engaged in discussions about The Bible, and if the camp itself embraced a more immersive Bible-oriented environment rather than emphasizing activities like “Warrior Games.” Consequently, whenever the characters mention “God” during a song, it feels awkwardly out of place and disrupts the overall coherence of the film.
Additionally, the arc of the two main characters follows a familiar pattern seen in many Christian films, particularly those produced by studios like PureFlix. It centers around an atheistic white male protagonist, who, after enduring a difficult childhood, is sent to summer camp as a form of remedial reformation. There, he begins to question his worldview when he encounters another character who has also experienced tragedy but possesses a strong attachment to religion. This portrayal of Christianity often reflects an ultra-conservative viewpoint, approaching cult-like status. It propagates the belief that God exists in all aspects of life and performs miracles when individuals incessantly pray for guidance or healing. However, the real world rarely offers such simple solutions.
An Unremarkable Romantic Comedy
Leaving aside the failed attempt at creating a Christian musical, the remainder of A Week Away is a forgettable, formulaic romantic comedy that adheres closely to a tired, uninspired script. The film fails to stand out or make a lasting impression, despite its desperate desire to impress the audience. Ryan Quinn and Bailee Madison deliver competent performances, sharing occasional moments of genuine chemistry. However, the screenplay lacks originality, recycling worn-out tropes found in countless other movies. Ultimately, A Week Away fails to captivate and falls short of being the awe-inspiring, uplifting Christian musical it aspires to be. Instead of investing time in this lackluster film, there are far better musicals to explore, such as the Camp Rock movies or the High School Musical trilogy.
A Week Away disappoints with its execution of a Christian musical narrative. The film features disconnected Christian musical elements that distract from the primary storyline, offering uninspired and derivative songs reminiscent of Disney Channel originals. It falls prey to the tendency of mainstream Christian movies to imitate popular films while incorporating Christian themes in an artificial manner. Moreover, the shallow portrayal of faith and religion, limited to sporadic musical interludes, feels out of touch with the overall narrative. The movie’s predictable romantic comedy elements further contribute to its unremarkable nature. Overall, A Week Away fails to leave a lasting impact or effectively explore the potential depth of its Christian themes.
1. Is A Week Away a Christian movie?
Yes, A Week Away incorporates Christian themes and musical elements into its storyline. However, it fails to effectively integrate these aspects, resulting in a disjointed and underwhelming experience.
2. What is the target audience for A Week Away?
A Week Away aims to appeal to teenage audiences, particularly those interested in romantic comedies and musical films. However, its limited execution may not resonate with a broader audience.
3. Are there any redeeming qualities to A Week Away?
While A Week Away may not excel as a Christian musical or as a romantic comedy, it does offer moments of decent performances and chemistry between its lead actors.
4. Are there alternative musical films with stronger Christian themes?
Yes, viewers seeking musical films with more substantial exploration of Christian themes can turn to classics such as The Sound of Music or modern examples like Les MisÃ©rables or Godspell.
5. Can A Week Away be recommended for family viewing?
A Week Away is generally suitable for family viewing, as it maintains a relatively wholesome tone. However, some viewers may find the execution of Christian elements and musical numbers to be lacking.