'Yellow Day': Film Review

Yellow Day - H 2015
Courtesy of Providence Film Partners
As a film, it makes a fine sermon.

Carl Lauten's faith-based drama uses animated interludes to tell its story of a young man desperately searching for the woman he thinks is the love of his life.

You need more than a little faith to endure Carl Lauten's stylistically ambitious but hackneyed faith-based film that infuses its treacly love story with heavy doses of CGI animation and even heavier doses of Christian moralizing. Taking place in and around the confines of Camp Grace, an actual retreat for special-needs youngsters in Mobile, Ala., whose motto is "Lives are changed and souls are strengthened," Yellow Day is the latest example of the genre's penchant for admirable messages delivered via stilted storytelling.

Its title referring to an annual celebration inspired by a real-life, terminally ill 15-year-old girl's description of her better days as being "yellow," the movie depicts the efforts of John (Drew Seeley), often referred to as "The Good Man," to reconnect with Monica (Lyndsey Shaw), a woman with whom he fell in love when they were both stranded overnight in — where else? — a church.

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In true Hollywood fashion, the couple had met "cute," bumping into each other not once but twice on the street, with the second encounter resulting in John's cellphone getting dunked into his soft drink. That last plot point comes in handy later on, when both he and Monica, separately praying in an ornate church at the end of the day, find themselves locked in by an oblivious janitor.

Over the course of the long night during which they fall asleep (in separate pews, of course), the pair overcome their initial hostility and bond over their mutual faith. They're both artists; she's an aspiring composer while he's a poet, albeit an unpublished one.

"I write for Him," John says solemnly, pointing to a statue of Christ on the cross.

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The next morning John wakes to find Monica mysteriously gone. He frantically tries to find her at Camp Grace — where she blossomed as a child after being violently abused by her stepfather — with the help of "The Little Girl" (Ashley Boettcher), who also provides spiritual life lessons delivered in the form of (unimpressive) animated interludes.

Yellow Day is certainly well-intentioned, and its use of the camp — and its real-life attendees, who include children afflicted with serious illnesses and victims of domestic abuse — provides some undeniably moving moments. But the thinly drawn, generic characters, including John's best friend (Akeem Smith) and a camp employee (Meagan Holder) on whom he develops a crush, serve as little more than mouthpieces for lots of heavy-handed proselytizing.     

Production: Providence Film Partners

Distributor: Idyllic Entertainment Group

Cast: Drew Seeley, Lindsey Shaw, Ashley Boettcher, Akeem Smith, Meagan Holder

Director: Carl Lauten

Screenwriter: G.P. Galle Jr.

Producers: G.P. Galle Jr. Robert Gros, Blake Hester, Marsha Posner Willams

Executive producers: G.P. Galle Jr., Carl Lauten, Davis Pilot, Grace Pilot, Marsha Posner Williams, Robert J. Williams

Director of photography: Joseph Arena

Production designer: Jessie Brodsky

Editors: David Abramson, Don Brochu, Blake Hester

Costume designer: Lawane Cole

Composer: Luke Denton

Rated PG, 98 minutes