Chris Willman
May 31, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Other Side of Heaven

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
113 minutes
Limited Release Date
04/12/02
performer
Anne Hathaway, Joe Folau, Christopher Gorham, Miriama Smith
director
Mitch Davis
distributor
Excel
author
Mitch Davis
genre
Drama

We gave it a C

”Mormon film industry” would’ve been oxymoronic a few years ago, but LDS filmmakers are catching up with evangelical Protestants, and pronto; this slick, fact-based, missionary-themed drama, has racked up almost $4.5 million in a gradual national rollout. Non-Mormons might be forgiven for experiencing early whiplash: The opening scene in The Other Side of Heaven has hero John Groberg (Christopher Gorham) stealing somebody’s gal (”The Princess Diaries”’ Anne Hathaway) at a wild Brigham Young U. dance party in 1953 (talk about shattering stereotypes — Mormons were hep to ”Rip It Up” three years before it was released!). Minutes later, he could hardly be happier when a telegram says he’ll be leaving his newfound love for a few years of church-mandated mission work on a remote Tongan island. Some touching cross-cultural scenes and cool typhoons ensue. But if Groberg ever ran into much resistance from the natives or experienced any humanizing moments of doubt, they didn’t make their way from his memoir into the movie; the resulting absence of dramatic tension ensures the film will make fewer converts than he did.

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