10 December 2007

What Would Jesus Buy?

I'm honestly somewhat amazed at just how bad this movie was. It's kind of impressive. I mean, first off - I knew what I was getting into, and I was looking forward to it. I _like_ documentaries. Secondly, I'm pretty much the choir being preached to here - I'm so anti- the consumerization of Christmas that I'm happily leaving the damn country and missing the holiday altogether. Nonetheless, about half an hour into this movie, I started losing interest. After 45 minutes, I started checking my watch. After an hour, I was actually making mental lists of what to buy my loved ones for Christmas (no joke). An hour and 10 minutes in, my mother and I started having whispered conversations about how bad the movie it was (there were only 5 other people in the theatre, and the only one near us was snoring loudly, so it didn't seem that bad...). An hour twenty, I covertly used my cell phone to check how much longer the movie was. We started debating just walking out, but couldn't quite bring ourselves to do it, on the off chance that something _really_ good happened in the last 10 minutes. At 1:28, we started putting on our coats. We were that eager to get the hell out.

Why was the movie so bad? No really. Why? What in the hell happened?

Ok, so first off, it was straight-up boring. Long shots of shit like the light changing at an intersection - wtf? What does that have to do with anything? I ain't tryin' to watch the goddamn grass grow while some voice-over whines about credit card debt, ya heard? Secondly, it was mind-numbingly repetetive. Bla bla bla don't shop so much. Yeah. Ok. I got it the first 20 times. Meanwhile, the message was strangely rambling and unfocused. It started with Stop Shopping! And then almost immediately, it was admitted that they only say that to get your attention, but you know, you can't _really_ just quit. Just, you know, slow it down, or something. Also, they never really lay out why you should stop shopping. I mean, you get these obviously extreme (or at least, they seemed extreme to me...) examples of people who are in catastrophic amounts of credit card debt, or are addicted to shopping, or have closetfuls of clothes, together with designer handbags, for hideous little dogs named Lola, or have way too many toys, but yeah, those are obviously extremes, ie, not particularly compelling. Then there's the requisite "Wal-mart is taking over the world" spiel, and the foreign workers are getting abused bit, and finally, the lecture about how family owned businesses are tanking. Well, ok. But that seems like an argument to buy stuff - local stuff, from small family businesses. That's kind of a different issue, n'est-ce pas? It's only tangentially related to Christmas itself. Finally, there's some lip-service paid to the idea of giving more meaningful gifts for Christmas, like, you know, love, and time. This doesn't really get developed or explored at all. So in terms of liberal propaganda, the film is kind of a failure. In fact, it was a pretty major failure, in that my mom and I, who are both fairly conscientious types who never set foot in malls and are generally not wildly materialistic, ran right to the bookstore afterwards and between us, blew $300, mostly on Christmas presents for people. Whooops.

Then there's the issue of Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir. The film is ostensibly focused around Reverend Billy - he's supposed to give us a way to think about the consumer spirit of Christmas, while keeping things upbeat and peppy. Reverend Billy travels the country imitating a holy-roller tv reverend (with the highly lacquered blond hair and all) and preaching against consumerism. Ok, so problem one - the shtick gets old real fast. Especially because, no offense, his choir sucks, and he's not so good himself. I actually love watching tv preachers because my god, they've got soul! They BELIEVE! They are enthusiastic and passionate! They are melodic! They know how to move you! Reverend Billy is a cheap imitation, and his delivery seems largely insincere. Furthermore, he seems like a bit of an asshole. And his style seems pretty counter-productive. Being a public nuisance has its place, but not if you're just nagging at people and telling them they're jerks. You're not gonna persuade anyone that way. For goddsakes man. Learn a bit about the art of a good sermon.

Worst of all, is the movie can't seem to make up its mind as to how big a role Reverend Billy should play. Is he the main focus, or is it just Christmas at large? Should the other people get more air-time (why in the hell do you introduce them all if only see most of them for 30 seconds? By the way, listing one woman with her name and "grandma" - that was effin' obnoxious.

Secondly, the movie can't seem to make up it's mind as to how it really wants to tackle the issue, and especially whether it wants to complain about the decline of spiritualism or not. It seems to start out that way, then backs off, probably for fear of alienating its target audience of liberals. Ultimately though, the final effect is a lot of waffling. Likewise, it Grow a pair, movie. Man up and figure out what you're doing. Pick an idea and go with it.

What in the hell happened to Morgan Spurlock? I really thought this movie was gonna be his sophomore smash hit. Instead, it was just sophomoric (wacka wacka).

Seriously though, this movie sucked. Bigtime.

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