Movie Beat: ‘Trek: The Movie” a moving, surprisingly hilarious delight


By Jenniffer Wardell

Rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, peril, an injury image, and language

Screeplay by David Howard and Jon Enos

Directed by Alan Peterson (co-directed by David Howard)

Starring Austin R. Grant, Joel Bishop, Stefania Barr, Clint Pulver, Ryan Mitchel Brown and more

Grade: Three and a half stars

 

Even if you’ve never strapped on a pioneer outfit, this is one “Trek” you don’t want to miss.

“Trek: The Movie,” opening this weekend, is a wonderful breath of fresh air in the world of LDS cinema. Spiritual without being preachy, routinely entertaining, and genuinely hilarious at times, it’s a fun, moving adventure the whole family can appreciate.

The movie follows one hapless group of LDS teens on their annual trek (for those who don’t know, these treks involve young men and women dressing up like pioneers and walking across patches of wilderness pulling handcarts. As one character says in the movie, “it’s basically Mormon cosplay.”) A few characters get special attention, including a boy trying valiantly to smuggle sweets on the adventure, a boy trying to work up the courage to ask a girl out, a girl who is always talking about everything, a non-LDS girl who came with her cousin, and a boy struggling with his faith who doesn’t want to be there.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the movie is surprisingly funny. David Howard, who co-wrote the script and is one of the co-screenwriters on “Galaxy Quest,” brings his gift for dialogue and comic timing to “Trek.” The most entertaining jokes are often relatable things exaggerated just the right amount, and the movie is full of them. Even better, you don’t have to be LDS to get all the jokes, since the movie does a great job at providing context.

It also offers plenty of heart. The reason why Tom (the boy struggling with his faith) doesn’t want to be there becomes something of a central mystery for the movie, slowly being revealed in flashbacks and careful asides from some of the other characters. Director Alan Peterson unfolds this beautifully, coupled by great performances from Austin R. Grant and Joel Bishop. Even though I guessed what happened fairly early on (though I missed a few of the details), even I got choked up when we finally find out.

The romantic elements in the movie are low-key but sweet, aided by great work from Stefania Barr, AmberLee Wilson and Mike Sandoval. Ryan Mitchel Brown was a comic delight, and I hope to see more work from him in the future.

Since “Trek: The Movie” is locally made, the amount of time it will spend in theaters depends on how many people go see it. Please, for the sake of everyone who doesn’t know they want to see it yet, go check it out.

 

(Photo © Excel Entertainment)

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