By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Satirical faith-based comedy is best for believers.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Addresses the meaning of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.
Positive Role Models
Characters learn to acknowledge their faults and their sins and find a deeper meaning in their faith.
Violence & Scariness
A central premise is that a megachurch known for creative and engaging attempts to bring the gospel to those who attend the church have come up with a new idea: Hold a live crucifixion of one of its members in the church. The person to be crucified was to be the main character, the youth pastor, but when he refuses and balks, he's replaced by an enthusiastic teenager. Characters play laser tag with realistic-looking weapons.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen jokes to the youth pastor lead character who has supposedly agreed to be crucified live in the megachurch that there's a rumor that he'll be naked when crucified, and that if that's the case, the teen's mom will then show up for it. Joke about "daddy issues" when love interest of lead character meets his daughter for the first time and doesn't know that she's his teen daughter.
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Products & Purchases
MyPillow box briefly shown. Brief cameo from the CEO of MyPillow.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A cigarette box, a flask, and a pill bottle are brought up to be "crucified" in one scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Church People is a faith-based comedy in which the popular youth pastor of a megachurch balks when the pastor of the church wants to hold a live crucifixion on Good Friday. As it's a movie centered on a Christian megachurch, this satire is best for faith-based families. When the main character, the youth pastor, refuses to be the one to be crucified, an enthusiastic teenager new to the faith volunteers, and there's some discussion of the pain to be endured by having three rusty spikes nailed into one's hands and feet. A teen makes a joke that there's a rumor that the youth pastor will be naked when crucified, and if that's the case, his mom would show up for it. There are brief shots of a cigarette box, a flask, and a pill bottle brought up to be "crucified" during one scene.
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Humor and Humility about Church Issues
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What's the Story?
In CHURCH PEOPLE, Guy Sides is a youth pastor, public speaker, and writer on a wildly successful book and speaking tour. The venues are filled with enthusiastic people who begin to bring beach balls to the events, and when the beach balls become more of what Guy is known for instead of his message on Christian salvation, he begins to worry that no one is truly listening. Things don't get better when he returns to Sand Hills, the California megachurch where he works with Pastor Skip, a tie-dyed T-shirt-wearing pastor who, ever on the lookout for new gimmicks to spread the word of Jesus, settles on an idea for this upcoming Good Friday: Host a live crucifixion in church, and Guy will be the person to be crucified. Guy balks at this, and begins to find a way to prevent this from happening. Meanwhile, Skip's missionary daughter Carla has returned from Moldova, and there seems to be an attraction between her and Guy, even though Tino (Joey Fatone), the hammy singer of the church musical group, has obvious feelings for her. To further complicate matters, the daughter Guy thought was put up for adoption, Gretchen, has shown up out of the blue, and the two must find a way to develop a father-daughter relationship. Things come to a head when Skip finds an enthusiastic teen from the youth ministry to get crucified in Guy's place, and Guy must find a way to not only stop the crucifixion, but also help Skip and Sand Hills get back to what's really and truly important.
Is It Any Good?
This faith-based comedy is best for faith-based viewers. Church People is a movie centered on the wild premise of a megachurch that seems to have lost its way as it found fame and success. It wants to take it one step further by presenting a live crucifixion of the youth pastor so that the church attendees can have a more direct experience of what Jesus Christ endured on the cross. The idea of a violent, bloody, and painful death of, first, the youth pastor lead character and, then, of an enthusiastic teen who volunteers when the youth pastor absolutely refuses, is offset by attempts at comedy, usually Joey Fatone making up songs on the spot in a style hearkening back to his NSYNC days. It's a gentle satire of the character types in megachurches, what happens when the marketing and merchandise for sale in a megachurch overshadow the message the megachurch is supposed to be communicating, and clueless parents (played in a cameo by Chynna Phillips and William Baldwin) who give their kids a little too much leeway. There's also a cameo from the "MyPillow Guy."
Those who aren't megachurch attendees and/or faith-based people may not enjoy this. The crucifixion premise is truly bizarre, the comedy either falls flat or quickly grows tiresome (i.e., Fatone's singing), and the megachurch character types aren't relatable if you're not going to a megachurch. There are moments that might feel a bit heavy-handed for the nonbelievers. The climactic scene is a bit overblown and melodramatic, no matter how much one believes in the message being delivered.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about faith-based movies like Church People. Can only faith-based families enjoy a movie like this? Why, or why not?
What are the themes of the movie, and how are they addressed?
How does the movie use comedy to convey its themes and messages?
- On DVD or streaming: September 3, 2021
- Cast: Thor Ramsey, Joey Fatone, Stephen Baldwin
- Director: Christopher Shawn Shaw
- Studio: Collide Distribution
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 28, 2023
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