DVD The Penny

DVD The Penny
DVD The Penny
Run time: 88 min
Rating: 6.2
Genres: Crime | Drama | Thriller
Director: Nathan Webster
Writers: Nathan Webster
Stars: Tom Lodewyck, Brian Morvant, Kyle Walters
“The Penny” is a drama/thriller that follows a series of seemingly insignificant events in a number of people’s lives. Hidden amidst their “bigger” problems, these disconnected pieces of their lives go unnoticed until they begin to fit together in a totally unexpected way. Suddenly these strangers are thrust together by what some would call luck, chance, fate, coincidence, or even destiny. But is it something even bigger than that? Written by Nathan Webster
Plot Keywords: penny, coincidence, independent film
Country: USA
Release Date: 29 October 2010 (USA)


  1. This movie uses about every Christian cliché in the Christian Culture Book of Cultural Clichés. Teens who feel unloved, a sick person who coughs, unconvincing bad guys, drunk driving that leads to an accident… Instead of focusing on one or two story lines and making them powerful, it leads its cardboard characters around predictable scenes that don't resolve. It's called a thriller? Maybe if it's the first movie you've ever seen.

    The writing is wooden and stiff, uses no subtext. The acting is poor, the best being the drunk girls. But it's easy to act convincingly drunk. Unfortunately, I laughed more at this than I usually do at movies that are supposed to be funny.

    I don't think it's necessary to have big budgets and A-list actors to make a good movie. A good script, passion and inspired direction can do it. I find it strange that with the God of the universe on our side, that Christians consistently make weak films. What are we afraid of?

  2. As a Christian youth group leader, I review a lot of films with the hope that they can be a useful adjunct to our group's ministry. While this film was reasonably well done from a technical perspective, I was left wondering "what is the point" about the use of a penny as the linking device through the story line, until the very end, where I had to admit it was simply a "mechanical" device instead of a deeper message.

    I can readily agree with most of what reviewer "rbsteury" said. I too was hoping for something that portrayed how difficult it is to live life without Christ, or to deepen understanding of how God works in our life, but one can only guess who the Christians are supposed to be in this film and it takes a long time to get some suggestions. Overall the tone is simply dark and one is left with many unresolved subplot elements.

    I certainly support and want independent Christian filmmakers to succeed in bringing quality films to audiences. However, this one misses the mark as something that works for youth ministry, and how it got the current rating as I write this, compared to other independent Christian films listed, is beyond me (7.9).

  3. My wife and I watched this on DVD tonight hoping against hope that it would be on the level of "Facing the Giants" or even "To Save a Life." As Christian youth group leaders, it would be great to have another movie to recommend to our youth as a realistic portrayal of how difficult living life without Christ can be or one that assists them in their Christian life by bringing a deeper understanding of how God works in our life.

    Unfortunately, the film was not a good experience. We stuck it through till the end but only with difficulty. I am amazed at the film's present rating on IMDb (7.9) and would have to think that there is some funny business there. There is no way this movie can hold its own among any other movies rated in the high 7's of which I am familiar.

    The tortured story starts with the death of a cop (in a completely unconvincing scene) many years previously which apparently lead to the dead cop's partner (Tom Lodewyck as Jack Carter) leaving the police force and becoming a mailman. (The movie skips ahead here — a decade? — but some people apparently age — like Carter's kids — and some do not — like Carter himself who looks exactly the same.)

    There are all kinds of story lines scattered the rest of the way, most of them totally unconvincing. Some of them are a wife who is ill with a chronic cough (and, by the way, that story line is never resolved and is mentioned ever so briefly in the last third of the movie), a daughter who feels unloved but whose relationship with her father is quite suddenly (and unconvincingly) repaired in the last reel, an exceedingly bitter husband getting a divorce from an unfaithful but repentant wife to whom he shows not the slightest ounce of grace or forgiveness (not even when the film has ended), a kid who survived the initial shooting but is a video-game playing bum, and a "bad" girl (we know because she wears way too much makeup) who steals money and in the end gets her just deserts by being killed in an auto accident (that's the Christian spirit). Most of the teens in the movie are mean thugs or shallow idiots… obviously writer/director Nathan Webster does not think our youth are a very good bunch.

    All of these story lines are somehow connected by a bent penny that plays a key role in the final showdown. But what that has to do with any Christian message is pretty far-fetched. Something about (after Jack gazes up into the sky with a radiant smile) "Some call it fate or destiny. Others just bad luck or even coincidence. Me… I call it Providence, because that's who it is." Real heavy, man. That will bring in a lot of believers. In fact, the only way we know these people are Christians is that occasionally they pray before meals or bedtime (with their kids), read the Bible before going to bed, and say things like "God has a plan." But then, they can castigate a receptionist at their physician's office of ripping them off for all the tests being ordered on their wife (as if the receptionist were to blame)… no problem with that lack of charity or understanding.

    For those interested in the Christian theology that (I think) the movie was trying to put forward, it is of the "Everything happens for a reason" variety. If you really believe that popular maxim that recently every pro athlete and movie star allows to glibly flow from their mouth (and is found nowhere in the Bible) you should read Chapter 6 of Larry Osborne's wonderful little book "10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe."

    The one good thing about the movie was the acting of Molly Kunz as Jack's daughter. She steals every scene she is in and is about the only actor in this movie who delivers lines as someone would actually say them in real life, rather than as stiff as 3 day old toast.

    I guess I will show my youth group "To Save a Life Again." 3/10 rbsteury (Sheridan, MI) 16 July 2011

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