By Jonathan Decker (Family Therapist, film critic, actor)
Before becoming a therapist I dabbled in acting for a while. In high school and college, motivated by Jackie Chan movies and a desire to impress girls, my friends and I crafted our own stunt-filled extravaganzas. These family-friendly flicks are available on YouTube and Vimeo for your family to enjoy (and make fun of). Allow me to give you the tour:
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: LETTERING (1998)
A teenager (me) learns how to advance in Latter-day Saint seminary and impress his dream girl. The video quality is poor, my acting is embarrassing, and the first half is slow, but it picks up in the second half and I’m pleased with the comedy and action beats of my first movie.
NICEGUYS’ FIRST STRIKE (1999)
Brady Bunch cheese meets Jackie Chan parkour! My debut as writer/director is geared at helping young men to respect young women. This is a family favorite. Stay for the outtakes. FUN FACT: The seminary teacher at the beginning, Stephen Stirling, is the father of famous dubstep violinist Lindsey Stirling.
INDIANA JONES AND THE SEARCH FOR ETERNAL JOY (2000)
At age 18 I wrote and directed this fan-film for our local high school seminary. Indy and Short Round learn about Mormon scripture and battle the bad guys. I’m very proud of this one.
The touching story of a boy and his new friend, a disembodied hand shaped like a Brontosaurus. Thus began my lifelong friendship with Last Man(s) on Earth star Charan Prabhakar. Stay for the outtakes!
MULLET MANIA’S MISCHIEVOUS MOMENTS (2003)
Public pranks around the campus of Brigham Young University, capped off by an epic parkour fight sequence at the end.
DINOHAND TRIUMPHANT (2003)
This bigger, dumber sequel finds DinoHand looking for love and me looking for revenge. “Older me” can’t believe that “younger me” did some of these stunts. My kids love this one. Stay for the outtakes!
WHAT ELSE IS ON? (2004)
Our church singles group swept the congregation’s movie awards with this parody of TV circa 2004. The Bachelorette, The Home Shopping Network, Trading Spaces, exercise programs, Charlie’s Angels (reruns), and telenovelas all get skewered. Gets funnier as it goes, with some dazzling outtakes.
DAYDREAMING DAVE (2004)
My first foray into actual acting, and it was incredibly fun. I starred in this short silent comedy as a favor for some friends in film school. Pure physical acting, sans dialogue, was a lovely challenge. I play a college student whose imagination gets him into trouble.
29: DAY ONE (2005)
In 2005 I was a die-hard fan of the TV show 24. My friends and I would gather together every week to watch Jack Bauer battle terrorists. Back then, if you missed an episode you couldn’t stream it the next day; you’d have to wait five months for the DVD set. This stunt-filled comedy is about fans whose lives start imitating art. As a writer-director, it’s the film of which I’m most proud.
A DAY IN THE LIFE (2006)
Another favor for a friend’s film school project. I play Harry Potter in this reality TV spoof which finds “The Boy Who Lived” sharing an apartment with a jock, a klepto, a misogynist, a wholesome religious girl, and the “token person of color.”
29: DAY TWO (2006)
My buddy Alan Seawright took over directing duties for this glossier, grittier sequel. Perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had making a movie. As for “Charan’s replacement” (you’ll see), it’s a riff on a doppleganger plot thread from 24. I see now how it might ruffle some viewers, but it was honestly meant to poke fun at the cultural cluelessness of white people.
CTU: PROVO (2007)
The big one. The capper. My final film was a feature-length 24 fan-film featuring Donny Osmond as The Big Bad. When eco-terrorists attack Utah, understaffed agents of the Counter-Terrorist Unit: Provo reluctantly accept help from hardcore Jack Bauer fans. I really did hang from the door of a van going 40 mph, Alan really did get hit by a car, and the final fight is the best action scene I’ve ever been a part of. (Note: this one has a 2-3 mild profanities and some death and blood. It’d be a light PG-13).
Trailers, shark-diving, machine guns, Comic Cons, making-of documentaries, short films, and more. Explore the playlist!
For two years I wrote and performed with the popular Brigham Young University comedy troupe Divine Comedy(some of whose members formed Studio Cafter graduating). Check out my comedy playlist!
THE KJZZ MOVIE SHOW
For my last entertainment offering, have a look at my recommendations for classic, overlooked, and family-friendly films on The KJZZ Movie Show (2013-2016).