Director Tom Simes' Because of Gracia could be seen as a lesson for the impressionable, a glorified after-school special or a brilliant drinking game where the magic word that gets repeated to the point of hilarity is "Christian." The faith-fueled dramedy follows a handful of teens as they navigate the world of hormones and homework -- while bearing their own crosses, so to speak.
Instead of atheists portrayed as outcasts among a horde of suburban WASPs, here it's the Christians who are persecuted, high school-style. There are convoluted plans to sabotage a praying teacher and heated discussions about intelligent design vs. evolution. A debate teacher with atheist inclinations goes head to head with the new girl, a pretty Christian with a heart of gold and forgiveness who wins over the most anti-establishment students, save for a trio of scheming mean girls. Of course, there's also a horndog teen boy pressuring his girlfriend into going all the way. And despite the film's serious intentions -- it would like you to keep your pants zipped, naturally -- it's hard not to laugh at the earnest protest "But I'm a Christian!" during a tame makeout sesh.
The film, starring American Idol contestant Moriah Peters as the saccharine newbie Gracia, fails to portray different perspectives (i.e. non-Christian ones) as legitimate, and ultimately is little more than spiritual propaganda.