‘Old-Fashioned’ falls flat

Posted February 26, 2015


Opening weekend of the highly publicized “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not an ideal release date for most movies, particularly, those in the same romance category. Even more, those movies that label themselves as the “anti-Fifty Shades of Grey.” But on the same day that Christian Grey hit the big screens so did small-town Clay Walsh in the movie “Old-Fashioned.”

Old Fashioned Movie PosterAnd this wasn’t a coincidence.

The aptly named movie finished production in 2013 and was purposely released the same weekend as “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Filmmakers Rik Swartzwelder, who also stars as the lead Clay Walsh, Gordon Toering and Sue Toering wanted to provide viewers a counter-opinion and option to 50 Shades of Grey.

An option that shows “old-fashioned” dating instead of the exploitative relationship shown in “Fifty Shades.” Their portrayal of old-fashioned dating, however, is a lifeless, emotionless relationship that feels forced.

“Old-Fashioned” focuses on the courtship between Clay (actor), a former frat boy turned ultra-conservative Midwestern shop owner, and Amber Hewson (actor), a spontaneous free-spirit who moves into the apartment above Clay’s shop.

Unlike Christian Grey, and many of the men portrayed in movies, Clay takes love very seriously and believes in a traditional relationship based in a strong faith and belief in God. After living more liberally and free during college, a secret that he considers a demon in his past, Clay does not sway from politically and morally correct speech and actions. He’s chivalrous, yes, but that doesn’t automatically make him a likeable character.

His standards for love, while refreshing in comparison to today’s sex-heavy entertainment scene, are extremely lofty. Even those close to Clay accuse him of being too close-minded and self-absorbed.

New-to-town Amber finds herself both intrigued and attracted to those standards and values. Coming from an abusive past Amber seeks a new start in the small Ohio town. Somehow she desires to be in a relationship with a person who lacks charisma and affection toward her, even bluntly asking Clay, “when are you going to ask me out?” and “when are you going to kiss me?” Regardless, they slowly begin an old-fashioned courtship centered.

The storyline that had the potential, albeit limited, to succeed in mainstream media but was poorly portrayed on screen. Scenes drag out, conversations between characters are robotic and Clay and Amber lack the passion and allure needed in romance movies. It makes you question why you spent money on the ticket.

And it kind of makes you wish you saw “Fifty Shades,” if only for the drama and excitement.

Their ultra-traditional courtship is boring, exaggerated and stereotypical. White, conservative, evangelical people working hard to make a living in a small town. Here’s an idea: set the movie in a city or at least a suburb of one. Don’t make the characters live in run-down homes and use technology from the 1970s.

Poorly cast as Clay, director Swartzwelder should have spent more time searching for a younger, more attractive character who better complemented Amber’s appeal, although she should have been younger as well.

A movie better suited for the Hallmark Channel, “Old-Fashioned” targets a narrow audience consisting of mainly Christian moviegoers. If you’re intensely searching for an alternative to “Fifty Shades,” you’ve found your movie. If not, best to wait until the next Nicholas Sparks’ movie comes out to fill your love story void.

  • Reviewer rating: 2/5 stars
  • “Old-Fashioned”
  • Released Feb., 13, 2015
  • Rated PG
  • 114 minutes
  • Skoche Films, Motion Picture Pro Studios
  • Staring: Elizabeth RobertsRik SwartzwelderLeJon Woods
  • Director: Rik Swartzwelder