“I laughed a lot.”
That was my 15-year-old daughter’s first response as I asked for her thoughts about “Once I Was a Beehive,” which comes out in theaters today, August 14.
I had seen some buzz around the movie, but honestly didn’t think it’d be something I’d like.
Boy, was I wrong.
I’ve been looking at some of the trailers and such, and let me just say this — in my opinion they don’t come anywhere near capturing the essence of this film. Had I tried to make a decision by the trailer, I would have chosen not to see it. There is a cohesiveness to the story arc that no trailer can capture.
The movie is being pitched as a Girl’s Camp Movie, and of course, I can’t argue with that tack. Most of the film’s story takes place at camp, and I imagine those who have attended Young Women camp will likely laugh just a little harder than others.
But then again, maybe not. Because to me it really isn’t a camp movie. It’s about something more.
The film has a delightful balance of humor and heart that I think is accessible to all. (I heard people leaving the theater who aren’t LDS who loved the film and felt the message of it.] And although I loved the way it playfully (and sometimes a little pointedly) pokes fun at some Mormon cultural quirks (and, even more specifically, quirkiness around Mormon women and stereotypical teenage girls), it has a more universal message about human nature. How easy it is to define and divide ourselves by our differences! Through the simple window of a week-long youth camp, the film reflects on how challenges (and even quirky differences) can help people transcend those differences (if hearts are open just enough), and how much we all desire to feel connection, support, and belonging.
Other reviews will recount more of the details of the story. I tend to just share some of my impressions and thoughts about the media I review.
The comment that struck me most in the Q&A session after the preview screening (besides that the bear scene was not done with a green screen! What??) was from Paris Warner. She plays the main character, Lane. Many of the actors are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but she is not. Paris confessed that she felt a little nervous about taking on this role because of that. But to paraphrase her heartfelt comment, her experience working on the film mirrored her character’s experience — she started with trepidation and ended with a circle of friends.
And so, although my typical policy here at Mormon Women is not to do reviews, once in a while I make an exception. I want to encourage people to support this film. Some may want to because it’s an almost all-female cast, but I hope you will go see it because it is just a fun film that I think deserves more reach and spread.
I plan to see it again, and encourage those who can watch it this weekend to go. Heartfelt thanks to all who worked so hard on this film.
Quick character commentary: Warner did a lovely job in her role as actor and narrator. Lisa Clark is hysterical as the high-strung-yet-devoted Young Women leader. Hailey Smith provides a nice steadying force in the extreme swing of caricatures (except, ahem, when the rangers show up). And I adored the character, Phoebe. If you are a Dr. Who fan, you’ll like Phoebe all the more (I’ve never seen the show, but my daughter loves it and she couldn’t stop commenting on Phoebe’s T-shirts). Lastly, I think when I grow up I want to be like Sister Nedra. At the Q&A, we learned that Barta Heiner (who plays Sister Nedra) was director Maclain Nelson’s drama professor. My vote is for Heiner to create a summer drama camp for young women. Trouble is, I would want to sign up just to see what she has to say, do, and share.
Visit the Once I was a Beehive website for the full list of theaters. The show opens today in Utah and will hit national theaters in September. If your city is not listed, you can “Demand It” to come to you! –>http://bit.ly/