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Mainstream - Flywheel

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Flywheel - Director's Cut

Alex Kendrick, Lisa Arnold
Written and directed by Alex Kendrick
Sony Pictures Home Video 2007
114 minutes

Flywheel is the $20K Christian movie that could. This independent low-budget and word of mouth hit has been re-edited, color corrected, and tweaked sound wise for release by Sony Pictures as the Director's Cut. Flywheel is an inspirational movie made by the folks at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. People either really like or dislike inspirational and independent low budget movies and Flywheel is both.

Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick) is the owner and operator of a used car lot in Albany, Georgia. He is your typical dishonest make a diamond out of a lemon operator whose business and personal life is a shambles and church attendance and faith spotty at best. Jay Austin is not a very nice man. Just when things are getting bleak he comes across a Sherwood Baptist Church program on TV and this starts him thinking.

The one thing I hate about small budget independent movies is how self-conscious and artsy-fartsy they can be. This is not a problem in Flywheel. Kendrick has a story to tell and doesn't let cute camera angles and other film school tricks get in the way. He also has quite an ear for good comedy, especially through Jay's two associates though I really liked the scene where his wife blesses the food and includes the new carpet. He is also a pretty good actor and his supporting cast much better than the buddies and friends with dollars who normally get cast in indie movies. Kendrick does indulge in one small inside joke but that is very forgivable.

Flywheel may be a little message heavy but it is usually nicely presented. Tough Jay's conversion after just 1 TV evangelist broadcast is a bit on the really miraculous side the time it takes his good fortune (i.e. the Lord's blessings) to come is a lot more realistic. It seems you have to act accordingly to your conversion.

I was much less impressed with Flywheel three quarters of the way through, starting with the scene where Jay and his wife finish watching the TV news one night. Whereas the movie managed to be fairly subtle with its Christian message most of the way through this time it just grabs the biblical  and prayer sledgehammer and whacks the viewer over the head.

Continuity wise, I kind of get the feeling Jay's wife goes from pregnant to really pregnant and nobody seems to notice until the very, very end.

Flywheel is an enjoyable little movie if you like a positive, life affirming story. As small budget independent movies go, it is far above the usual fray. It does get rather preachy but it is still rather enjoyable and original.

Flywheel Director's Cut includes a Blooper reel where nothing needs to be bleeped out, deleted scenes, outtakes, a director's commentary track and the TV spots for the two competing used car joints in the movie.

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