Wow….first Tootsie gets in the Criterion Collection, and now this. Truly these are the Last Days. I cannot believe this is actually real. I mean I sincerely hope that I will find in the next few days that video of Kimmel announcing it is another of his good-natured pranks. If you cannot tell already, this episode of Art of the Trailer is going to be more editorial than usual, because I have something to confess. Forgive me audience, for my people have sinned:
First, this is the dumbest premise I have ever heard for a movie. It is a standard, run-of-the-mill watery Christian Rom-Com, which already lies low in my book. Fake emotions, contrived plots, and a heavy Bible Belting of a gospel message are sure to alienate those non-believers who walk into the wrong theater and become a rallying cry of small Christian communities around the country. From the first half of the trailer, it seems like the film could run with an interesting, if not stock desperation narrative so common of early 2000s. But by making this a “Christian Movie” the filmmakers muddle their intended audience and make a film that no one wants, and one which might actually do harm to the gospel.
This is a large soapbox of mine. The short version is this: “Christian Movies” are made with two conflicting purposes in mind, which make them ineffective towards any serious audience. There is a place in this world for films meant to bolster the faith of people who already believe. Those movies will not receive mainstream release as they are intended for a niche market, therefore loaning themselves towards a distribution plan mainly centered on Lifeway Christian Stores. Conversely, movies like God’s Not Dead or Son of God are typically made to evangelize (spread the faith) to people who do not believe (and intercongregationally lauded for so doing). However, production quality is sacrificed in favor of having the moral focus be the point, and furthermore the films rarely produce something more than a good “Be nice” message with a lot of “God” thrown in. By trying to talk to two definably opposite groups, films in the “Christian Movie” category fail to land with anyone.
Thus, in the coming days, you will see a number of articles about the existence of this film. Some will be rightly critical of it, and will hopefully come from a large number of Christian groups as well as from the masses of secular (non-Christian) critics. However you will see some poor souls who will happily promote this movie, saying it has potential to bring someone to salvation. I propose the thought that more people have been saved by David Cronenberg and his work than have by shlocky, poorly constructed “Christian Movies”.
However, to appeal to the purposes of this blog, let me look at what the trailer does specifically which in my eyes seals its doom. First of all, let’s ignore the inherent sexism of the first 13 seconds of the trailer – it would require a whole other post about the problems inherent in creating an atmosphere of anxiety over being the “last one standing”. Immediately we are presented with an ad within an ad, which to be clear is not clever. This leads us to single most non-sensical point of the trailer – are there no other dating sites for this Mean Girl to apply on? From there, the trailer careens on to divulge the entirety of the poorly constructed plot, highlighting primarily the painfully forced faith journey Gwenyth takes. Ultimately, this trailer provides us with everything we need to see the lack of serious commitment and real-world understanding the filmmakers put into this piece.
Christian audiences are the easiest to dupe. We label ourselves as SHEEP for heaven’s sake! People of the faith lost it when in 2008 Miley Cyrus publicly thanked “god” for her success at the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, and yet we now see how that turned out. It takes nothing to raise the Army of the Lord to rally behind something or someone, praising it as a sign of hope left in the world.
And what is worse, this thing, which some people are going to say is a great thing – something that can bring people to Christ – is ONE GIANT ADVERTISEMENT!!! You cannot call it product placement when the product is the central facet of the film and when the movie BEARS ITS NAME!!! This is like if Community sponsored the Subway movie, though I might actually watch that film.
In summation, PLEASE go watch this movie. Watch the train wreck; see how terrible it is. The only way to redeem the fact that this will soon be a major motion picture is if we make this the new The Room. Please spread the word about this movie. Let us together douse it in the fires of internet lampoonery, and finally drive the message home to Christian content makers that we will not settle for, nor be converted by, terrible art.