I walked in sweating a bit wondering if this release might tarnish the franchise. Mitch Davis is a talented storyteller, but 18 years after the original (which, along with GOD’S ARMY, I think helped create and define the MORMON FILM genre), I wondered if the pixie dust ?♂️ might be gone. I was elated to have any and all of my concerns put to rest.
This is the best Latter-day Saint release in over a decade.
It competes with and even trumps any other successful faith-based release (including the recent blockbuster I Can Only Imagine).
The storyline is strong—didactic but not overly preachy. The script is pithy and powerful. Humor is appropriate and timed well in the story arc to add and not detract. Casting, for the most part, is spot on (Gorham had to come back, and President Monson’s doppelganger from Down Under was a perfect stand in). Soundtrack is top shelf (nice work Christian Davis, Shaun Barrowes, Jordan Pinkston [Jordan James], AaliyahRose, Junior Maile, and others). The cinematography is also very well done, and the CGI, when added, was noticeable but not overly distracting.
This is probably (and deservedly so) the highest anticipated Latter-day Saint film since 2014’s Meet the Mormons. Although it doesn’t have the official stamp of endorsement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints like that film did, I feel The Other Side of Heaven Movie has more potential to positively change perceptions about the faith than any recent film. That’s a relatively tall order, and it fulfills.