'God's Army' Director Takes Mormon Cinema to a New Level with Latest Film; Box Office Film Review by Wade Major

Apr 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from Excel Entertainment Group, Inc.

    SALT LAKE CITY, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Richard Dutcher has taken Mormon
 filmmaking to a new level in his latest film Brigham City, a gripping story of
 lost innocence, suspicion, atonement and forgiveness.
     With his first film, "God's Army," the story of a group of young Mormon
 missionaries, Dutcher was credited with creating Mormon cinema.  With "Brigham
 City," Dutcher expands the genre he created.
     (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010404/LAW018 )
     In 2000, "God's Army" played in 240 cities nationwide, taking in over
 $2.6 million at the box office and becoming one of the top fifty independent
 films of the year.  The LA Times called it a "sensitive and thoughtful probe
 into issues of faith," and the Dallas Morning News described it as "affecting
 [and] entertaining."
     Dutcher's latest film opens nationwide in April.  "Brigham City" is a
 dramatic and intense murder mystery set in a small Mormon town.  The film
 reunites Dutcher with Matthew A. Brown, his "God's Army" co-star.  This time
 they've traded in their nametags and scriptures for badges and guns.
     Dutcher plays Sheriff Wes Clayton, a compassionate lawman and a Mormon
 bishop in a quiet Mormon community called Brigham.  The tranquil town is
 shaken to the core when a woman from California is found murdered near her
 car.  Dutcher's character, his young deputy (Matthew A. Brown), the town's
 retired sheriff (Wilford Brimley) and his shrewd secretary (Carrie Morgan)
 work with an FBI agent (Tayva Patch) sent to investigate.
     While a murder mystery unfolds with dramatic intensity, the Mormon culture
 that colors every aspect of life in Brigham is explored, primarily through the
 eyes of the curious non-Mormon FBI agent.  As a civil and spiritual leader in
 the frightened town, Dutcher's character must serve both justice and mercy to
 uncover the town's deepest secrets, find the murderer and keep Brigham from
 ripping itself apart.
     "Brigham City's" production budget of $1.2 million still places the film
 firmly in the camp of relatively low-budget independent films, though this
 budget is significantly higher than the $300,000 Dutcher had in creating
 "God's Army."
     Excel Entertainment Group, Inc., the Salt Lake City-based company that
 distributed "God's Army," will handle theatrical distribution of "Brigham
 City."
 
 
     BRIGHAM CITY review
     By Wade Major, Box Office
 
     BRIGHAM CITY ****
     Starring Richard Dutcher, Matthew A. Brown, Wilford Brimley, Carrie
 Morgan, Jon Enos, Tavya Patch, Jeff Johnson and Wendy Gardiner.  Directed,
 Written and Produced by Richard Dutcher.  An Excel Entertainment/Zion Films
 release.  Drama/Mystery.  Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic material.
 Running time: 120 min.
     It's rare that filmgoers find themselves treated to the reinvention of a
 genre, particularly one as entrenched in formula and steeped in tradition as
 the murder mystery.  Yet that is precisely what awaits audiences of "Brigham
 City," the newest film from "God's Army" director Richard Dutcher.
     Like "God's Army," which centered on the experiences of Mormon
 missionaries in Los Angeles, "Brigham City" is a film targeted first and
 foremost to Mormon audiences, a niche market which Dutcher successfully
 exploited to make "God's Army" one of the most significant independent
 successes of 2000.  But whereas "God's Army" explored matters of faith related
 to those who must dwell and work in the outside world, "Brigham City" casts
 its eye on a community of faith as it struggles with the encroachment of the
 outside world.  It's a scenario certain to give the film an appeal far beyond
 that of an exclusively Mormon audience, striking an especially resonant chord
 in like-minded communities where the values of faith and family are deemed
 most sacrosanct.
     As with most small municipalities, the fictitious town of Brigham City,
 Utah feels more like an extended family than a city.  Most of the townspeople
 are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormon
 Church's formal name -- and know each other as either friends or
 acquaintances.  For Sheriff Wes Clayton (Dutcher) and his deputy Terry ("God's
 Army" star Matthew A. Brown) this limits their policing activities to coping
 with overflowing irrigation ditches or corralling the occasional rowdy
 construction worker.  In many ways, it's an easier job than the one for which
 Clayton is not paid, as bishop and spiritual overseer for one of the town's
 many Latter-day Saint congregations.  A routine patrol stop at an abandoned
 roadside homestead, however, yields a gruesome discovery that threatens to
 change everything:  the bloodied, brutalized body of a young woman.
     Confirming the victim to be an out-of-state passer-by, Clayton defers to
 the FBI, hoping to keep the incident sufficiently low-key so as to not disrupt
 Brigham City's fragile sense of security.  But a second murder elevates the
 stakes and raises the specter of a serial killer in their midst -- a veritable
 wolf in the fold who will surely kill again if not stopped.  No sooner has the
 grim news been leaked than the usual array of media vultures descend upon a
 town that was once scarcely on the map, bringing Clayton's worst fears to
 fruition as peace and tranquility are displaced by fear, suspicion and
 paranoia.  For Clayton, it's the beginning of an ordeal that will blur the
 line between his responsibilities as a lawman and a clergyman.  For a
 citizenry once secure in the blessings of its devoutly Christian faith, it is
 the beginning of a trial that promises to put that faith to the ultimate test.
     In the end, it is "Brigham City's" focus on faith that sets it apart from
 more conventional murder mysteries.  While exploiting the genre's underlying
 narrative structure, Dutcher has courageously chosen to dispense with its
 essential purpose, making the solution of the mystery less an end in itself
 than a means to a more humanistic end.  It's a delicate balancing
 act-maintaining the tension of a mystery while emphasizing genuine empathy
 with the characters -- that pays off handsomely, a forceful defense of the
 power of faith that evokes genuine emotion without the tacky trickery of
 melodrama.
     Excellent work by composer Sam Cardon and editor Michael Chaskes, along
 with a talented cast of newcomers and veterans (including Brown, Carrie
 Morgan, Jon Enos and Wilford Brimley) contribute to the effort.  --Wade Major
 
     For further information please contact: Maryann Ridini, 323-960-8071,
 ridinifilm@earthlink.net; or Mary Jane Jones, 801-358-7020, mjjones@xelent.com
 
 

SOURCE Excel Entertainment Group, Inc.
    SALT LAKE CITY, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Richard Dutcher has taken Mormon
 filmmaking to a new level in his latest film Brigham City, a gripping story of
 lost innocence, suspicion, atonement and forgiveness.
     With his first film, "God's Army," the story of a group of young Mormon
 missionaries, Dutcher was credited with creating Mormon cinema.  With "Brigham
 City," Dutcher expands the genre he created.
     (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010404/LAW018 )
     In 2000, "God's Army" played in 240 cities nationwide, taking in over
 $2.6 million at the box office and becoming one of the top fifty independent
 films of the year.  The LA Times called it a "sensitive and thoughtful probe
 into issues of faith," and the Dallas Morning News described it as "affecting
 [and] entertaining."
     Dutcher's latest film opens nationwide in April.  "Brigham City" is a
 dramatic and intense murder mystery set in a small Mormon town.  The film
 reunites Dutcher with Matthew A. Brown, his "God's Army" co-star.  This time
 they've traded in their nametags and scriptures for badges and guns.
     Dutcher plays Sheriff Wes Clayton, a compassionate lawman and a Mormon
 bishop in a quiet Mormon community called Brigham.  The tranquil town is
 shaken to the core when a woman from California is found murdered near her
 car.  Dutcher's character, his young deputy (Matthew A. Brown), the town's
 retired sheriff (Wilford Brimley) and his shrewd secretary (Carrie Morgan)
 work with an FBI agent (Tayva Patch) sent to investigate.
     While a murder mystery unfolds with dramatic intensity, the Mormon culture
 that colors every aspect of life in Brigham is explored, primarily through the
 eyes of the curious non-Mormon FBI agent.  As a civil and spiritual leader in
 the frightened town, Dutcher's character must serve both justice and mercy to
 uncover the town's deepest secrets, find the murderer and keep Brigham from
 ripping itself apart.
     "Brigham City's" production budget of $1.2 million still places the film
 firmly in the camp of relatively low-budget independent films, though this
 budget is significantly higher than the $300,000 Dutcher had in creating
 "God's Army."
     Excel Entertainment Group, Inc., the Salt Lake City-based company that
 distributed "God's Army," will handle theatrical distribution of "Brigham
 City."
 
 
     BRIGHAM CITY review
     By Wade Major, Box Office
 
     BRIGHAM CITY ****
     Starring Richard Dutcher, Matthew A. Brown, Wilford Brimley, Carrie
 Morgan, Jon Enos, Tavya Patch, Jeff Johnson and Wendy Gardiner.  Directed,
 Written and Produced by Richard Dutcher.  An Excel Entertainment/Zion Films
 release.  Drama/Mystery.  Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic material.
 Running time: 120 min.
     It's rare that filmgoers find themselves treated to the reinvention of a
 genre, particularly one as entrenched in formula and steeped in tradition as
 the murder mystery.  Yet that is precisely what awaits audiences of "Brigham
 City," the newest film from "God's Army" director Richard Dutcher.
     Like "God's Army," which centered on the experiences of Mormon
 missionaries in Los Angeles, "Brigham City" is a film targeted first and
 foremost to Mormon audiences, a niche market which Dutcher successfully
 exploited to make "God's Army" one of the most significant independent
 successes of 2000.  But whereas "God's Army" explored matters of faith related
 to those who must dwell and work in the outside world, "Brigham City" casts
 its eye on a community of faith as it struggles with the encroachment of the
 outside world.  It's a scenario certain to give the film an appeal far beyond
 that of an exclusively Mormon audience, striking an especially resonant chord
 in like-minded communities where the values of faith and family are deemed
 most sacrosanct.
     As with most small municipalities, the fictitious town of Brigham City,
 Utah feels more like an extended family than a city.  Most of the townspeople
 are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormon
 Church's formal name -- and know each other as either friends or
 acquaintances.  For Sheriff Wes Clayton (Dutcher) and his deputy Terry ("God's
 Army" star Matthew A. Brown) this limits their policing activities to coping
 with overflowing irrigation ditches or corralling the occasional rowdy
 construction worker.  In many ways, it's an easier job than the one for which
 Clayton is not paid, as bishop and spiritual overseer for one of the town's
 many Latter-day Saint congregations.  A routine patrol stop at an abandoned
 roadside homestead, however, yields a gruesome discovery that threatens to
 change everything:  the bloodied, brutalized body of a young woman.
     Confirming the victim to be an out-of-state passer-by, Clayton defers to
 the FBI, hoping to keep the incident sufficiently low-key so as to not disrupt
 Brigham City's fragile sense of security.  But a second murder elevates the
 stakes and raises the specter of a serial killer in their midst -- a veritable
 wolf in the fold who will surely kill again if not stopped.  No sooner has the
 grim news been leaked than the usual array of media vultures descend upon a
 town that was once scarcely on the map, bringing Clayton's worst fears to
 fruition as peace and tranquility are displaced by fear, suspicion and
 paranoia.  For Clayton, it's the beginning of an ordeal that will blur the
 line between his responsibilities as a lawman and a clergyman.  For a
 citizenry once secure in the blessings of its devoutly Christian faith, it is
 the beginning of a trial that promises to put that faith to the ultimate test.
     In the end, it is "Brigham City's" focus on faith that sets it apart from
 more conventional murder mysteries.  While exploiting the genre's underlying
 narrative structure, Dutcher has courageously chosen to dispense with its
 essential purpose, making the solution of the mystery less an end in itself
 than a means to a more humanistic end.  It's a delicate balancing
 act-maintaining the tension of a mystery while emphasizing genuine empathy
 with the characters -- that pays off handsomely, a forceful defense of the
 power of faith that evokes genuine emotion without the tacky trickery of
 melodrama.
     Excellent work by composer Sam Cardon and editor Michael Chaskes, along
 with a talented cast of newcomers and veterans (including Brown, Carrie
 Morgan, Jon Enos and Wilford Brimley) contribute to the effort.  --Wade Major
 
     For further information please contact: Maryann Ridini, 323-960-8071,
 ridinifilm@earthlink.net; or Mary Jane Jones, 801-358-7020, mjjones@xelent.com
 
 SOURCE  Excel Entertainment Group, Inc.