The new LDS film Once I Was a Beehive has a lot of people talking—including a few people you may not expect.
When the comedy, based on life at an LDS girls’ camp, came out earlier this year, it was hard to know how it would be received. Because even though recent LDS movies such as 17 Miracles and The Saratov Approach have proven that LDS film is alive and well, Mormon comedies have developed a bad reputation somewhere along the way.
It’s been awhile since an LDS filmmaker braved Mormon comedy in such a big way.
Sure, The Best Two Years is a classic. You might even like Singles Ward or a romantic comedy like Charly. But it’s not hard to see that at some point “funny” Mormon movies really started to go downhill.
And the critics, like many of us, probably expected the same from Once I Was a Beehive.
That is what’s so surprising about the reviews it was given by three movie critics who are usually skeptical (at best) toward LDS films: they each offered genuine praise for Once I Was a Beehive.
Sean Means is a movie reviewer for The Salt Lake Tribune. A few years ago, he described a then recently released LDS film as “an edge-free story so devoid of tension that it serves as a sleep aid.”
But with Once I Was a Beehive his tune changed. His review glowingly claimed it was “good enough to stand alongside what comes out of Hollywood….warm-hearted and consistently charming.”
And Means isn’t the only one with something nice to say about the film.
Scott Renshaw from City Weekly, who called one LDS film from earlier this year “sluggish” and another film “weak cinema” had a surprisingly positive take on Once I Was a Beehive.
“‘Faith-based cinema’ is such a disaster on such a regular basis that it’s almost startling when someone gets it right,” he said.
“[The film] introduces faith-based elements delicately, combining a good-natured skewering of certain Mormon cultural norms with a genuine respect for a girl still not sure if she’s ready to believe.”
A third critic, Eric Snider (formerly of Film.com & The Salt Lake Tribune), used the words “lacks narrative punch” to headline his review of one LDS movie last year.
His candid review of Once I Was a Beehive was different: “Its sunny idealism and practical approach to faith make it almost universally appealing, unless you’re some kind of monster.”
And for those of us worried about the cheesiness of Mormon comedies, his words are reassuring: “the film finds a lot of avenues for humor without overdoing any of them.”
Mormon comedy that’s not overdone. Not slapstick. Not so full of “inside jokes” that we can’t tell if we’re laughing at ourselves or with ourselves.
That’s just what LDS comedy movies need. And that’s exactly what they got with Once I Was a Beehive.
After 16-year-old Lane Speer loses her father to cancer, she is anything but happy when her mother chooses to get remarried--and to a guy Lane hardly knows. Worst of all, he's Mormon. Lane finds herself roped into attending a Bible-themed girls' camp with a bunch of young Mormon girls. But despite her struggle to cope with memories of camping with her father, she soon finds herself in the middle of a touching adventure she'll never forget! Find it now at deseretbook.com.