Christianity is a subject rife for film making, and has been for decades. Anything from hard-hitting documentaries to nativity stories and comedies to action films, the holy book seems to provide a limitless breeding ground for movies in almost all genres. But it’s hard to make a comedy about about the hypocrisies and contradictions of organised Christianity in a post-Dogma world. Kevin Smith made such an iconic cult film about Catholicism that anything of that vein has to work hard to break free of it’s shadow.
Rockin’ Reverend is the story of Robert (Scot Michael Walker), a wannabe actor who’s struggling to get legitimate gigs outside of dressing as the Statue of Liberty on a sidewalk. He struggles with his goal whilst juggling fatherhood, financially supporting his son through his divorced wife and building a relationship with his new girlfriend. At the beginning of the story, Robert is dragged to church by his girlfriend and suffers a sermon in the ilk of the pained and self-flagellating stereotype. He’s not impressed, ridiculing the reverend and the messages he preached until he realises that you can make a lot of money in the business of the clergy.
And this, sadly, is the story to the end. The character goes on a journey of acting in the “gig” of being a reverend, challenging the messages people receive from conventional churches and giving them a guilt-free sermon on not being a “douche.” The character goes on no journey but to make money from the faceless congregation, mocking religion in the process and eventually succumbing to all the vices that wealth bring. We don’t love the character and we see no growth in him as a person nor development.
What’s missing is any real understanding of the religion at hand. There’s no nuanced conversation about the subject, as we see in film’s like Dogma, nor the brazen challenging we see in Holy Grail. With Scot Michael Walker as director, writer and star there’s a chance that the film was blinding by its singular direction, I’ve seen more interesting performances from teenagers antagonising street preachers during the sumer holidays.
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