WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Still mourning her father’s death, a teenager from a Protestant family gets roped into attending a Mormon summer camp.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B+)
Faith-based comedies often fall terribly flat. Wholesome doesn’t always equal funny, and good intentions don’t necessarily lead to polished screenplays (or performances). I therefore had low expectations going into Once I Was a Beehive, only to be very pleasantly surprised. Instead of a lame culture comedy or preachy conversion tale, this is a graceful, well-made examination of loss, healing, and interfaith friendships.
This is a “Mormon film” whose central character is not a Mormon, and the film has no agenda of making her one. The story relies more on universal themes than inside jokes, making it accessible the way Fiddler on the Roof is to non-Jews and The Blind Side is to non-Christians. It’s well-acted and moving, with a fair amount of laugh-out-loud humor. The faith aspects are light and uplifting, not heavy-handed. The cast has good chemistry; imagine the camaraderie of Pitch Perfect without the innuendo.