I’ve always believed and made good use of what I call movie cleansers, something to replace the part of the soul you lose when you see something ultra terrible. I saw Die Hard 5 this earlier this year and quickly watched the first Die Hard film to remind myself that it was spawned from a near flawless and revolutionary action flick. After seeing a Haunted House I quickly gave myself some mouth to mouth with another look at airplane! just to remind myself of times when parodies, no matter how silly, were still tastefully and coherently made.
last week I saw the comedy This is The End, with James Franco and his pals, which was actually very funny with lots of nice comic set pieces but the Christians who may have bothered to see it would have laughed at the messy Christian ideology underlying it which basically says if you give your life for your friend you get beamed up into heaven. Everybody’s mama knows that’s not true and I may be accused of taking this purely comic fare a tad too seriously and that’s probably true but after something like that a nice Christian movie cleanser would be in order but alas, there aren’t that many that would do much cleansing.
Bottom line is most Christian movies suck and in a big way. Directors and screenwriters hide behind the gospel message to produce a load of mediocre drivel. Now I can tolerate the substandard editing and cinematography and even the acting, hell I endured Sophia Coppola in THAT role so for the most part I let the performances of actors in Christian movies slide. I however cannot forgive blatantly awful, lazy and crummy screenplays. I consider screenplays the essence of any movie and a good screenplay can wash away all sin in a Christian movie production. If that’s the case then a good number of the films churned out are going straight to hell.
A man once said if you want to send a message, just send a telegram. Most of the Christian movies would be better of just doing that because that’s what they are just, messages and I for one do not watch films for plain messages. I watch to see an art form expertly endeavored and I watch to see interesting ideas and metaphors played around with but you just don’t get that I the said films.
One of my main peeves with Christian films is they making the faith and decisions surrounding it seem so simple. They even go on to paint the world we live in as largely black and white. Now I understand that in the Christian walk we are either hot or cold for the Lord and rightly so but that doesn’t change the fact that the issues we face are in a different mold. My mind drifts to the movie What Would Jesus Do where a bunch of Christians decide to do, yep, what Jesus would do. I saw this film for the first time last year at church and part of me felt so insulted by that film. I sometimes cite it as one of my worst films because of its simple-minded and almost naive take on the Christian walk. Frankly, it even borders on taking the Christian faith for granted and making it all seem like a shallow experience.
The characters in these movies are almost always depressingly two dimensional. I almost always roll my eyes back when they romp about with a mental list of the Ten Commandments they’re adhering to but at the end of it all I’m largely unable to identify with even though I too am a Christian and I cant help but wonder how outsiders to the faith feel. Pointless is what it is. Mainstream Hollywood directors, when they put their mind to it can convincingly break down the Christian persona, think Meryl Streep’s character in doubt. She starts out as a crusader for the truth and by the end is broken by doing the right thing in the eyes of God
There are times when I feel Christian audiences are to blame for the current state of things by gleefully gobbling up the second-rate material wanting for complex characters, underlying ideas, great spiritual depth and a general artistic intelligence in approaching even the most basic of plots.
As far as films go, it’s all about standing the test of time. Every major genre has tons of films that do so, well except of course Christian movies as a genre. Cinema lovers like me are looking for character driven works and genuine artistic value. It takes more than a Christ inspired message to make a great film.
The onus is on Christian filmmakers to take up the challenge to not only convey the message of the Christian faith, but to also carry a sense of intelligence, beauty and mystery in their films because that’s what our faith is. These with the assumed backing of Christ and his spirit will truly change minds and touch hearts for generations to come. It is about time Christian movie fans had their very own “Godfather” look to.