Missionary John H. Groberg returns to Tonga in the 1960s with his wife and their five young daughters. When their sixth child is born with a serious illness, the Grobergs face their ... See full summary »
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A divorced, Mormon stand-up comedian moves after divorce to loosen the ties to the church and it's singles ward. A woman from the new church calls and he responds rudely. Meeting her later, he notices that she's nice and cute.
John H. Groberg, a middle class kid from Idaho Falls, crosses the Pacific to become a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint missionary in the remote and exotic Tongan island kingdom during the 1950's. He leaves behind a loving family and the true love of his life, Jean. Through letters and musings across the miles, John shares his humbling and sometimes hilarious adventures with "the girl back home", and her letters buoy up his spirits in difficult times. John must struggle to overcome language barriers, physical hardship and deep-rooted suspicion to earn the trust and love of the Tongan people he has come to serve. Throughout his adventure-filled three years on the islands, he discovers friends and wisdom in the most unlikely places. John H. Groberg's Tongan odyssey will change his life forever.Written by
Mary Jane Jones
The Brigham Young University scene was actually shot in New Zealand. The filmmakers hired almost every swing club in the country to appear as extras. Anne Hathaway and Christopher Gorham do almost all of their own dancing. Anne was kicked in the head during one sequence. She was nearly knocked out. See more »
The telegram to John Groberg uses the actual punctuation mark, the period, but also uses the word "stop." A telegram did not have punctuation marks substituting the word "stop" for the period. It would not have had both as did the telegram in the film. See more »
Tomasi, why did you help us?
When I was a little boy, I was orphaned. Two missionaries like you took care of me, put me in school. I had forgotten about it until the minister told us to go rough up the Mormons. Then I remembered: I am one!
[takes a swig of alcohol]
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There are absolutely no nuances to any character in this film. The Tongans, who the lead character (the story is based on his actual memoirs) initially describes as (paraphrased here) "the people I grew to love" are simply portrayed as carefree savages saved by the attentive, miraculous attention of the Mormon missionary sent to convert them.
There's no mystery and subtlety, either: the most beautiful Tonga literally drops her skirt for him, her mother begs him for a "half-white baby," he brings a dead child back to life, the music swells when his feet are inexplicably "eaten" in the middle of the night -- and he takes his first steps toward a cheering, loving, docile tribe. There's little doubt who he'll have romance with, where he'll end up and how the experience with this "primitive" non-Mormon universe will change him forever (after all, not only did he manage to get a book published, he also got this movie produced by Disney).
In short, it's tremendously irritating -- it's insulting, it's racist, it's condescending. He obviously has a revisionist history in which he is wholly god's representative and adored. He is completely unflawed in his mind and in this rendering.
The film is one that should be reserved for whatever the Mormon version of catechism is and should stay within the confines of that community, where it will no doubt be appreciated and be singing to the choir.
The scenery is stunningly breathtaking, and it would've far been better had they decided to make a travel documentary of New Zealand and the Cook Islands, where the film was shot.
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