Altar Egos

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Altar Egos Movie Poster Image
Well-intended faith-based comedy falls short on laughs.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even if your motives are good, deceiving people doesn't help; when the truth comes out, those you tricked will feel betrayed. Love lasts forever and always prevails. The world would be a much better place if we could set aside our pride and egos so we could solve problems and interact with others out of love instead of selfishness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pastor John and his family are good models for unity and loving support, especially son Jack, who sacrifices his own social life to help his dad. Mary Margaret is stern and stubborn, but when others reach out to her with empathy and kindness, she shows her better, truer nature. Bully Dirk is a negative example who's subdued by an adult who's bigger and stronger than he is. When Dirk verbally abuses Holly and makes unwanted advances toward her, she tells him to stop but has to be rescued from the situations by other men.

Violence

A bully uses lots of verbal hostility, pokes, pushes, grabs at, and punches someone. He's verbally abusive to Holly and grabs her forcefully. She repeatedly tells him to stop but has to be rescued from the situation by other men. Once he's stopped by an implied cane to the groin; he's shown collapsing and yelling in pain. Another time an adult stops a teen from punching and squeezes the teen's fist hard.

Sex

Occasional mild flirtation.

Language

A bully uses verbal hostility.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Altar Egos is a faith-based story set during Christmastime, but isn't really about Christmas itself. The content is fine for even the youngest to see, but the story of a pastor who disguises himself as an elderly man isn't likely to hold their interest. The only violence involves a high school bully who uses verbal hostility and punches someone in the face; he's eventually subdued by an adult who's bigger and stronger than he is. Occasional mild flirting is the only sexual content. Messages are positive: about putting aside your own pride and dealing with others, even those you don't like, with love, kindness, and understanding. Pastor John's family are all good role models for loving support and family unity.

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What's the story?

In ALTAR EGOS, Pastor John (Robert Amaya) disguises himself as an old man with new ideas so he can convince his congregation's board of directors to accept the changes he has in mind for their church. Led by stubborn Mary Margaret (Sallie Wanchisn), the board is convinced that everything is fine just the way it is, and that keeping everything the same is the best way to keep traditions and honor the past. Right before the Christmas pageant, the choir goes on strike, and the board starts moving to replace Pastor John altogether. Can John and Mary Margaret find a compromise in time for the Christmas pageant?

Is it any good?

This faith-based family comedy's heart is in the right place, with lessons about being guided by love instead of by pride, but at its best it only musters a light chuckle here and there. Although Altar Ego's content is fine for the whole family, appeal for kids younger than tween age is probably limited. The main plot is about a grown man’s struggle with his role as pastor and how best to lead. Tween and teen appeal is a little stronger thanks to a subplot involving teen son Jack, ably played by Max Morgan, and his constantly thwarted attempts to date Holly.

Most of the humor comes from clichés about the elderly revealed when Pastor John and Jack don their disguises. Director/writer Sean Morgan attempts to mine bingo, square dancing, and water aerobics for laughs, and the results are as weak and bland as you'd imagine. Still, overall messages about strong family unity, and the rewards that come from opening your heart to others, make it an OK choice for a family movie night.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Altar Egos shows Pastor John trying to solve his conflict with Mary Margaret. Did it seem realistic? How about the way they solved the conflict? How have you tried to end conflicts and disagreements? What works, and what doesn't?

  • Have you ever seen someone being bullied? What did you do, or what should you have done?

  • What other faith-based movies and TV shows have you seen? Which are your favorites? How does this one compare?

Movie details

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