Parents' Guide to

Faith Based

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Comedy starts strong but fizzles out; pot use, swearing.

Movie NR 2020 92 minutes
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What starts out with a great premise, hilarious dialogue, and the promise of being a sparkling debut for the film's writers-producers-stars fizzles out by not connecting the dots. The idea behind Faith Based, on its surface, seems solid, especially for those who know the entertainment industry: Yes, some faith-based films have disingenuous origins. Evangelical Christians are sometimes financial targets for would-be filmmakers who can't find another way into the industry; persuading them to finance a film that will spread God's word is a whole lot easier than asking a wealthy investor to bet on a lofty idea in a crowded marketplace. While Barnett and Thomason's script dances around this idea by showing their characters pursuing this path, they're such likable miscreants that the ickiness of what they're doing doesn't truly sink in.

They meet with a foul-mouthed, impatient acquisitions executive at the fictional ChristFlix (a zesty Margaret Cho) who lays out the way that the faith-based film distribution model works, but these insights are taken from empirical assumptions rather than any real understanding. Tanner's ex-girlfriend works in the industry and helps the guys out because she's still attracted to Tanner's abs (!), and so viewers get the most basic primer on the stages of film production. Some other intriguing concepts arise: Luke is a multilevel marketing salesman for herbal tea, and for a second it looks like the movie is going to cleverly compare that to the church being a pyramid scheme, but it doesn't happen. Then, as Tanner finds love and happiness through the ruse of attending church, you start to wonder: Is this movie actually going to show that faith can be found in community and service -- is it really a faith-based film wrapped inside a cynical look at faith-based films? NOPE. It drops the thread on that idea, too. And all of the front-loaded snark and winks that rev up the comedy end in an earnest shrug. Faith Based will be watched because of the promise of its concept, but it doesn't deliver. It's not satire, and it's not parody, but it is self-deprecatingly honest. Ultimatley, this is about two doofuses who want to break into the film industry, so they amateurishly and insincerely make a movie based on films of faith -- and that, they do.

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