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Ragamuffin Blu-ray Review

Ragamuffin Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Ragamuffin

Theatrical Premiere: January 9, 2014 / Running Time: 137 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: David Leo Schultz / Writers: Ashleigh Phillips, David Leo Schultz

Cast: Michael Koch (Rich Mullins), David Leo Schultz (Sam Howard), Mel Fair (John Mullins), Carson Aune (Justin), Elizabeth Ann Roberts (Jessica), Christie Brooke (Sprinkle), Cameron Goodman (Beth), Mitch McVicker (Himself), James Kyson (Matt Gast), Wolfgang Bodison (Bryan Bontrager), Charles Lawlor (Brennan Manning), Amy Schultz (Amy Grant), Bill Clem (Gary), Michelle Keller (Neva Mullins), Dave Mullins (Radio DJ), Clark Mahaffey (Little Rich Mullins), Jon Mullins (Teenage Rich Mullins), Kacie Mullins (Debbie Mullins), Sam Howard (Maurice Howard), Taylor St. Clair (Mrs. Kellner), Glynn Prasel (Pastor Gable), William Colqutt (Dean Walter), Dale Tino (Pastor Thomas), Debbi Kimsey (Grandma Nellie), Ethan Bodie (David Mullins), Elle Bodie (Sharon Mullins), Tony Leon (Chetan)

1.78:1 Widescreen, Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Blu-ray Release Date: July 8, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover / Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Also available on DVD ($28.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

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Successful musicians enjoy a form of immortality and nowadays that immortality includes an inspirational biopic. While the biggest of these, like Ray and Walk the Line,
command awards and attention, less iconic artists get the same treatment on a smaller scale. For instance, Ragamuffin, celebrating and dramatizing the life of singer-songwriter Rich Mullins, had its world premiere in Wichita, Kansas last January and proceeded to screen at an assortment of Middle America churches throughout the spring.

Canadian newcomer Michael Koch portrays Mullins, who casually narrates his story in the framework of a radio interview. He grows up in 1960s Indiana finding it impossible to please his hard-working father (Mel Fair), a hard-ass of "the wrong kid died" variety. In 1974, Mullins attends Cincinnati Bible College, where Christian music emerges as his calling. He finds friendship and love, but the latter won't accompany him on a tour of Nashville, the music capital he seems destined to call home.

Eventually, Mullins makes the trip south and his music impresses Amy Grant (Amy Schultz). His song becomes her hit and earns him an open invitation for more songwriting. But Mullins wants to record his own songs as well, an idea the record label isn't sold on. His image -- almost always unshaven with unkempt hair, bare feet, ripped jeans, and a dirty white T-shirt -- isn't really marketable in this genre, plus he resists any creative interference from the label.

The 2014 film "Ragamuffin" tells the story of Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins (played by Michael Koch).

Nonetheless, Mullins finally gets a chance and in 1988 his best-known song "Awesome God" tops the Christian charts. With the newfound money and popularity comes a drinking problem and Mullins stuns his collaborators when at the height of his fame, he moves to Wichita to study music education at Friends University. While grappling with his deep-seated daddy issues, Mullins embraces his college roommate's father like his own.

Living simply yet recklessly, he keeps a foot in the music world and a protégé (Carson Aune) nearby while dreaming of teaching poor kids on an Indian reservation and trying to make sense of his relationships with both God and his biological father.

Wielding all the subtlety of Walk Hard, Ragamuffin is very phony in depicting the ups and downs of Mullins' life and career. IMDb estimates that the film was made on a budget of just $500,000, which may explain the amateurish nature of this production. It's overlong, awkwardly-acted, and subject to subpar sound recordings. Its attempts at art, like the recurring image of a swinging light bulb, are laughable. Its apparent age-blind casting gives us ridiculously old college freshmen (specifically, the director himself, David Leo Schultz) and insufficiently aged parents. It makes almost no attempt whatsoever to evoke the periods depicted with authentic dialogue or fashions.

Amy Grant (Amy Schultz) has some words of encouragement for her "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" writer. An uncharacteristically clean-cut Rich Mullins (Michael Koch) catches up with his college roommate (David Leo Schultz) at a funeral.

One is almost astonished how something meaning so well can be so bad. Clearly, Ragamuffin wants to tell Mullins' story and tell it right, but neither that desire nor the shoestring budget excuses its countless dramatic failings.

Having apparently concluded its church tour in mid-May,
Ragamuffin hit Blu-ray and DVD this week from Millennium Entertainment carrying the Dove.org seal of approval with some content cautions. Though the case claims this is not rated, the film did receive a PG-13 classification from the MPAA earlier this year.


Ragamuffin's 1.78:1 presentation does not seem to be the product of Millennium malfeasance, as the movie clearly seems to have been shot in the standard digital video aspect ratio and deleted scenes appear in the negligible 1.85:1. The picture quality is pretty good, exhibiting light grain at times and paleness throughout but generally remaining clean and sharp.

Sound is where the movie's low budget announces itself. The dialogue recordings are inconsistent and on occasion downright bad. Otherwise, the mix is adequate, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (not the default and not lossless) offering glass-rattling bass during one of the film's most dramatic moments.

Rich Mullins' protégé and friend Justin (Carson Aune) plays a song for him on the road in this deleted scene. Rich's younger brother Dave Mullins vouches for the film's authentic depictions in his message to viewers.


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by writer-director David Leo Schultz and Rich Mullins' younger brother Dave, a producer and cast member. Their screen-specific discussion is informative but not so interesting,

certainly not enough to endure the overlong film a second time. They acknowledge crew members, goofs, locations, sticking to and departing from fact, and ordinary filmmaking work that only really has meaning to them.

On the video side, in which everything is presented in standard definition, we begin with "A Legacy on Screen: Ragamuffin" (10:41), which explains the origins of the film and pats everyone involved with it on the back for a "Ragamuffin" way of making this film authentically.

Two deleted scenes are presented individually. The first (1:50) sees Rich and Justin playing music in a hotel room, while the second finds Rich (2:09) confronted by a pastor who doesn't approve the preaching that made some uncomfortable at his church concert.

"A Message from Dave Mullins" (5:25) defends the film's depictions of smoking, drinking, and cussing as being true to his brother's real life.

Finally, a Previews section adds Ragamuffin's trailer (1:40) to the ones playing automatically at disc insertion, for Khumba, "When Calls the Heart", and Red Wing.

The menu plays clips in an opening from a reformatting of the cover art. Like other Millennium Blu-rays, this one regrettably doesn't let you set bookmarks or resume playback.

No inserts accompany the disc inside the plain blue keepcase, which is topped by a textured, embossed, and stickered slipcover.

Rich's (Michael Koch) break as a solo recording artist doesn't come easy or without some creative clashes. Rich Mullins (Michael Koch) accepts some spiritual advice from sundae-loving preacher Brennan Manning (Charles Lawlor).


It's a fact that many people are able to overlook the artistic shortcomings of a work that embodies and promotes their faith. Such a task is essential to deriving enjoyment from Ragamuffin, an unpolished low-budget Rich Mullins biopic that means well but lacks so much grace. If you heed my reservations, you might be able to endure a viewing of this overlong drama, but doubtful any more than that.

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Reviewed July 9, 2014.

Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Millennium Entertainment, Color Green Films, Kid Brothers of St. Frank, Co., and Updog Studios.
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