Second Glance, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, my brother Angus came for a visit.  Angus is a heathen like me, and keeps up (sporadically) with the blog.  A former Media Arts major, Angus is much more excited about the prospect of Christian movie reviews than Christian book reviews.  (Though his WTF look when I described Soon to him was pretty awesome.)

So, we watched two Christian youth movies during his stay.  Today’s feature is Second Glance, one of the movies that I put up for the vote (which basically ended up a draw) lo these many weeks ago.  The other, coming soon, is Teenage Conflict, a special request from Angus because it deals with a 1960’s smack-down battle between faith and science.

Anyway, I thought I’d try a slightly different format this time.  Since Angus and I sat and snarked at the movie, I’m going to lay out the whole plot at the beginning, then move to screenshots illustrating key (and/or hilarious) points, with our comments.  I’ll also break the movie into two parts.  We’ll see how this works.

The first “modern” Christian youth film I reviewed here was The Pretender, one of the first films from the Christiano brothers.  In the intervening five years between The Pretender and Second Glance, they came out with such classics as Pamela’s Prayer (I cannot wait to do this one, but I need to track down a DVD first) and The Appointment (which I haven’t seen, but is apparently about an atheist newspaper writer who gets a death message from God).  Second Glance came out in 1992, and is basically a Christian youth version of the great classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Synopsis, Part 1:

High school student Dan lives with his parents and unbelievably annoying little sister in Generic Suburbia.  Dan’s problems are many: he is teased by the anti-Christians at school, he just can’t seem to drum up enough interest in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he drives a crappy car, and most importantly, he has a crush on Tamara, the girlfriend of Doug, the head anti-Christian.  All in all, Dan chalks up his woes to the fact that people only see him as “a nice guy.”

And, Dan is a nice guy.  Over the course of the school day, we see him encourage Tamara to have confidence in her schoolwork (Dan helped her study for a big test), and talk down Bull, a classmate who becomes violently jealous whenever any guy even looks at his girlfriend, Melanie.

Dan spends the rest of the school day pining after Tamara, ignoring the innocent attentions of his “just a good friend,” Vickie, who shares his faith, and blowing off Scotty, a recently-converted classmate.

Things come to a head with Tamara when Dan’s buddy convinces him to kinda-sorta ask her out.  Dan botches his Charisma roll and Tamara lets him down about as easily as can be done, though she bugs him by referencing his niceness.

Then, the day takes a turn for the even shittier.  During the Big Test, the anti-Christians pass a note, which falls on the floor.  Dan now botches his Intelligence roll and, for reasons best known to himself, picks up the note.  The teacher accuses him of cheating and Dan is suspended.  That night, as his father rakes him over the coals, Dan laments his sad state—not the suspension, but that fact that he doesn’t “live on the edge” and thus is missing out on all the fun of high school.  Dad’s response: “You’re missing out on all the sin.”  Dan tosses his Bible down on the bed, and wishes he was never a believer…



Jenny exalts as she turns Dan's alarm up to 11.


And poor Dan's day gets off to a great start

Ruby:  Nice kid.  Really nice.  I would’ve kicked your ass if you ever did that to me.

Angus:  Deservedly so, I’d say. 

(As you can tell, Angus and I share a dislike of practical jokes.)

Ruby: “Family breakfast,” my ass. 

Angus:  Hey, Dad, you wanna tear your eyes away from the paper for a minute?  Your daughter was being a jerk.

Ruby:  Well, you can’t blame him, what with gripping front page headlines like “Jail Floor Plan Okayed.”

Ruby:  They’re sitting on metal folding chairs at breakfast!

Angus:  That is weird.  They have a nice house, the kids have their own rooms, but they can’t buy decent chairs to sit in??

As Dan arrives at school, the Christian Persecution begins...


Doug:  Hey, Burgess, gonna let me cheat off you in that English test today?

Dan:  Wasn’t planning on it, Doug.

Ruby: Heh, that’s actually a decent comeback.

Angus:  Kinda funny.  Not bad at all.


Angus:  I know they’re setting Tamara up to be the slut and all, but she is so nice.  Look at her, going out of her way to thank Dan again for helping her.

Dan's teacher, Mr. Millner, weighs in on the Tamara issue

Mr. Millner:  It is my lady.  Oh, it is my love.  Oh, that she knew she were.

Dan:  Hey, Mr. Millner.

Mr. Millner:  Take my counsel, comrade: Be careful with young love.

Dan:  Yeah, but Tamara’s special, Mr. Millner.

Mr. Millner:  I guess we’ll see.

Angus:  What the…?  What is with this teacher advising Dan on his love life out of nowhere?

Ruby:  Yeah, and with the huge slam on Tamara for no reason, too.

Angus: Oh look, look, LOOK, there’s the girl he’s really supposed to end up with.  A nice Christian girl.

Ruby: Sorry, honey, your hair’s not big enough.

Angus:  Any film about teenage love has to have the sweet girl the guy doesn’t notice until the end.

Ruby:  Geez, how many times was Bull held back?  He looks about 35 years old.

Angus:  Really, Dan’s advice to Bull is pretty good: you gotta trust your girlfriend, or else it’s not true love and it won’t last.  As usual, the inexperienced nerds have the best insights.

Dan: Now look, we gotta get some guys to come to this thing, ’cause it’s really gonna make them think about eternity.

Ruby: *laughs*

Angus: What?

Ruby: That’s another Christiano Brothers film, The Appointment.  They’re pumping their own movie!

Angus:  Um, wow.  That’s taking product placement to a new level.

Okay, at this point , we are introduced to new convert Scotty.  In some Christian films, there are certain spectacular lines.  Lines that stay with you.  In The Pretender, that line was unquestionably: “When you come to Jesus, come all the way.”  In Second Glance, it is a line that is not only marvelous, but has spawned a minor YouTube cult following.  The line:

Jesus, man.”

But I’ll let Scotty introduce himself:

But right now, Dan isn’t interested in Jesus, man.  He’s interested in Tamara…

Dan prepares to ask out Tamara

Ricky: Go on, get it over with.

Dan:  Okay.  I’m going.

Ricky:   Besides, if she turns you down, your troubles are over.

Both Ruby and Angus:  *burst out laughing*

Ruby:  Okay, that’s a good line.

Angus: And oh so true.

Dan:  Hey Tamara.

Tamara:  *sighs*  I’m really nervous.

Dan:  Oh, don’t worry about the test.  You’re gonna ace it.

Tamara:  I just hope I pass.

Dan:  Um, Tamara, Iwas wondering…if you’re not gonna be busy tomorrow night…

Tamara:  Well, yeah, I’m going to Randy’s party.  Aren’t you going?

Dan:  Um, nah, I don’t think so.

Tamara:  You’re gonna miss a great time.

Dan:  Well, what about this weekend?

Tamara: Dan, are you trying to ask me out?

Dan: No!  No…

Angus: YES, YES YOU ARE.  This is Dan’s problem—it’s not that he’s a Christian, it’s that he’s a wuss.  Oh, and by the way, Dan, you already knew she was going to the party tomorrow, because you were there before  when she said she was.  Idiot.

Dan:  …I just thought we could get a bite to eat, maybe talk a little bit.

Tamara:  Listen, Dan–we’re good friends, right? 

Dan:  Yeah.

Tamara:  Well, I wouldn’t want anything to ruin our friendship.  I mean, you’re a real nice guy.  Some girl’s gonna be really lucky to get you.

Dan:  I understand.

Tamara:  See you in class.

Ruby:  She is so frickin’ nice.

Angus:  Yeah, you really can’t ask to be let down any easier that that.  Especially in high school.

There’s not too much to be said for the sequence in which Dan picks up the note and gets busted for cheating, except that Angus and I both about jumped out of our seats, shrieking things like: “You idiot!”  “Noooo, don’t pick that up!”  “How naive can one person possibly be???”  “YOU ARE AN IDIOT!!” etc.

Later that night…

Father:  How could you get suspended?

Dan:  It’s a bum rap, I told you.

Father:  You should never have picked up that paper.

Angus:  YES, exactly!

Ruby:  You speak truth, wise one.

Dan:  How was I supposed to know what it was?

Father: Son, you need to be more careful.

Ruby and Angus:  YES, preach it!  You tell him, Dad!  etc…

Dan:  I’m sorry; I wasn’t thinking.

Father:  Well, think next time!

Ruby: Dan’s father kicks ass!

Dan: *whines about being a nice guy and not going to the party* 

Father: A lot of kids won’t be there.

Dan: Yeah, a bunch of nerds.

Ruby:  Oh, you jerk.

Angus:  Hey, Dan, we may have been high school nerds, but you know what we weren’t–stupid enough to pick up notes off the floor during a big test!

Dan whines some more, Dan’s father leaves him alone, and Dan sulks…

Dan: I wish I was never a believer.

Angus: So, don’t be one!

Ruby: Easy answer.

Angus: He should just try being an atheist for a while, see if he likes it!  He’s apparently all for it…

And, in Part 2, Dan gets his wish…


Posted on March 6, 2011, in Completed Critiques, Movies, Second Glance. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. So…if he wasn’t a Christian he…wouldn’t have picked up the note? Is that how his thinking goes?

    He may want to spend his suspension-time learning about cause-and-effect.

  2. “All right boys, you can film in my kitchen, but stay off the good chairs!” “Aw, mom!”

    Of course Tamara would never say “no, I won’t go out with you because I already have a boyfriend”. Those crazy free-loving atheists! (And Our Hero wouldn’t think about respecting that, because atheistical relationships clearly don’t count.)

  3. Tamara: Well, yeah, I’m going to Randy’s party. Aren’t you going?

    Woo-hoo! Tamara’s coming to my party! (I’m Randy Owens at the old Slacktivist; I’m not sure which ID I’ll end up with at the new one.)

  4. I like the snark dialogue with you & Angus. Keep it up! 🙂

  5. Jason Blogs About Crap

    You need to find some way to film yourself and your brother in MST3K “shadowrama” with this movie. I would watch that. Can I recommend a movie to you that available entirely on youtube:

    The Burning Hell

    • Ye Gods! (heh!) I’ve seen home movies more coherent than that! It’s kind of jarring to hear that rather saccharine arrangement of “Coming Home” while listening to the Hellfire-and-Damnation preaching by that Old White Dude. Also, is the editor aware that the sound starts to go out of synch (rather badly by the end!) about a minute in?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Dude, you have never seen the flip side to The Burning Hell, The Believers Heaven. I sent a YouTube trailer of the latter to my writing partner last year. He still says he’s going to get me for that. It was the Singing Midgets… The Singing Midgets in Heaven were what did it.

        Both are from a Fifties/Sixties preacher named Estus Pirkle, and are considered Classics of the “Christpolitation” genre. Can’t remember the name of the guy who actually did the films for Pirkle, but he’s been described as “The Christianese Ed Wood.”

        • Consumer Unit 5012

          Rev. Estus Pirkle (or at least a clip of him shouting “Christianity is Stupid! Communism is good!” appears on a few Negativland albums, too.

  6. Oy vey…

    I refuse to believe that there isn’t at least one annoying faculty member to back up mega-dweeb here with a Young Life group or something similarly annoying.

    Oh yeah, I forgot, All Christians are Persecuted… time for a new trope found only in RTChristian fiction. Ranks right up there with: Eighties Hair! for this particular film…

  7. This movie makes a lot more sense to me when I look at it as the Young Buck Williams Chronicles.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      AKA The GIRAT – Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time!

      Author Self-Insert of The GCAAT – Greatest Christian Author of All Time!

  8. “I wish I was never a believer!”

    You could just…IDK, stop believing. He acts like it was something he was born with.

    • Depending on who you ask in various religious groups, some do indeed that one is born into one’s faith.

      Still, yeah, it’s a weird thing to say.

  9. Now that I think about it, from what I’ve read of the synopsis on Wikipedia, just how much sin does this party HAVE? Ill-conceived as pre-18 drinking (are you sure your liver’s ready to handle THAT much ethanol at a time?) and drugs may be, I can’t figure out how any of them fit into the Seven Cardinal Vices (well, MAYBE Gluttony, or Lust in its original sense as excessive love of what affects the physical senses–consider that the Latin original is “luxuria”–but still a bit of a stretch. Those are the least of the seven, anyway, so we’re not exactly in mortal sin territory yet).

    And yes, I know this is from a Protestant standpoint, not Catholic. Thy point? The Seven Cardinal Vices still strike me as a good framework to categorize various kinds of misdoings (and their respective severity).

    Anyway, I somehow seriously doubt we’re looking at A Party Also Known As An Orgy here (not even the Asterix sort), so we’re DEFINITELY not looking at the RTCs’ usual bonnet bee. I can’t figure out how the party fits into any of Pride (outside of general teenage hyper-independence), Envy, Wrath, Sloth, or even Avarice…

  10. Choir of Shades

    I don’t think the party fits any of the other vices, but I think Dan would go under envy right now (okay, it isn’t his neighbor’s wife but she is committed to someone else…)

    Did anyone else see the picture of the teacher and think “BAD TOUCH! BAD TOUCH!”

    That’s also the second easiest let-down I’ve ever seen. The easiest involved cuddling and watching adorable anime (Maria-sama ga Miteiru) together.

    Also Nthing the MST3K style snark commentary.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Second Glance came out in 1992, and is basically a Christian youth version of the great classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life.

    In other words, a one-sentence description would be “Just like It’s a Wonderful Life, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    Tip: If you can describe ANYTHING as “Just like Fill-In-The-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” — RUN. It’s Jesus Junk.

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Angus: He should just try being an atheist for a while, see if he likes it! He’s apparently all for it…

    And, in Part 2, Dan gets his wish…

    He becomes an Atheist (TM) as imagined by an RTC. Just like Wesley Crusher and Doogie Howser are Kid Geniuses (TM) as imagined by a normal.

    In his famous essay “Sex, Death, and Christian Fiction”, author Simon Morden takes the Christian publishing industry to task for creating a Fantasy Christianity in its fiction that has little resemblance to Real-world Christianity. And a world that has little resemblance to reality. Actually insulting to a God who’s supposed to be real and working in the real world.

  13. *gigglesnorting at the bad late-80s haircuts and how dorky wussy-Dan is 😛 (Srsly, his problem isn’t that he’s a Christian, it’s that he’s got no sense of self about it. He should be taking lessons from Fred Clark.)


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