MSRP: $19.94
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

  • Commentary with Alex & Stephen Kendrick
  • Alex & Stephen Kendrick discuss their new film Fireproof
  • The Making of Flywheel
  • Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, & Bloopers
  • Special Message
  • Butch Bowers & Jay Austin TV spots

The Pitch

The first film by the makers of Facing the Giants gets a tune-up.

The Humans

Alex Kendrick, Janet Lee Dapper, Tracy Goode, Walter Burnett, Treavor Lokey, Richie Hunnewell, Marc Keenan

The Nutshell

Jay Austin (Kendrick) is a used car salesman, but don’t hold that against him. Sure, he may overcharge people and fudge the facts on some of the cars he sells. He might ignore his wife (Dapper) and kid. He might even throw the drawing his son (Hunnewell) made for him in the trash. But deep down Jay’s a good guy. He realizes the error of his way after overhearing his son telling a friend that he doesn’t want to be like good old dad. So he decides to give his life over to the Lord and changes the way he does business, alienating his salesmen Bernie (Goode) and Vince (Lokey). As Jay continues on his journey, with a little help from his friends and family, he learns that that God really does work in mysterious ways.

The influence of Orson Welles extends to investigative journalism.

The Lowdown

I came into Flywheel with a few preconceived notions. The main one being that it was a low-budget film praising the Lord, made by the people whose other film rented out like crazy at the video store where I worked. And I will admit there was an error in my thinking. Flywheel isn’t really a low-budget film. It’s a scripted home movie. It even evokes the same reaction as most home movies. If you have any interest in the people or what’s happening onscreen, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. Might even love it. If you don’t, then what the fuck are you doing in these people’s living room?

Describing the craft of writer/producer/director/star/co-editor/co-DP/co-composer Alex Kendrick (whose ideology throws a new wrinkle in the concept of auteur-as-God) as refined would be a bit of stretch. Flywheel screams “first film” from the opening credits, with their snazzy transitions and drop shadows. Camera moves are haphazard and unmotivated. There’s a moment where Kendrick dollies in on Jay’s son and it works, until Kendrick dollies back out, rendering the move moot. The editing may have been worked on (the director’s cut has been “re-edited” according to the packaging), but it could still use some tweaking. During conversations, many of the shots are held either too long or not long enough, though it’s hard to say which. They just feel off. I’m almost tempted to see Facing the Giants, just to see how Kendrick has improved as a filmmaker. Almost.

All Bobby needs is a miniature Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and he’ll finally be able to
film his shot-for-shot remake of Joe Versus The Volcano.

The actors do a decent enough job. The biggest fault they have is not listening to each other. They just recite their lines and wait for their costars to do the same. Other than that, they’re pretty natural, probably just being themselves.  Alex Kendrick carries the film as only the most sturdy of Georgia pines can. His furrowed brow lessens as the film progresses and he smiles more. He laughs occasionally. That is pretty much his range. Special mention goes out to Janet Lee Dapper as Jay’s wife. Dapper acts her little heart out. She tries to anyway. She’s abysmal. Since she stays that way for the entire film, her performance is at least consistent. And on the bright side, Dapper isn’t the worst actor in the film. That honor belongs to the gum-chewing girl.

It’s easy to see why people adore Flywheel, despite its flaws. The filmmakers stick to their message, tug at some heartstrings, provide some (horrible) comedic relief, and reinforce their audience’s beliefs. Call it pandering or serving an ignored demographic, either way the Kendricks have found their meal ticket.

The Package

The transfer is non-anamorphic and shows the digital video for what it is, cheap but well lit. The dialogue during the beginning of the film, especially the scenes at the car lot, sounds canned. It doesn’t mix in with the ambient sound very well. Since the sound quality is advertised as being improved, I’m going to guess that these scenes are where most of the work was done, as the rest of the film has a more natural feel to it.

Something was worming it’s way into his rectum, that Bobby was sure of. Whether it was
his wife’s fist, the grace of God, or Hollow Man, that he could not say.

This isn’t a case where the extras outshine the feature. The commentary has Alex and Stephen Kendrick leading us through the film by the hand, narrating what’s happening onscreen. A very tedious listen. The making-of documentary covers all aspects of the production, from Genesis to Revelation, but isn’t really all that compelling.  Next up are the odds ’n sods: three deleted scenes, nine minutes of outtakes, and a minute and a half of bloopers, which is a minute and a half of people saying “I’m sorry.” All of it amounts to time you’ll wish you had back. The Kendricks take a minute to tell us about their new film Fireproof. Their enthusiasm is terrifying, but their following probably eats it up. The “Special Message” is Stephen Kendrick reiterating the theme of Flywheel, for those in the cheap seats. Also included are the Jay Austin and Butch Bowers TV commercials from the feature and trailers for God Grew Tired of Us, The Second Chance, and Facing the Giants.

3 out of 10