I, Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
I, Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story Movie Poster Image
Irreverent docu challenges religion; violent news clips.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 56 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Encourages critical, independent thinking; criticizes idea/role of organized religion. Themes include communication and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Activists -- in this case, mostly White European men -- are willing to look ridiculous to question the status quo. 

Violence

A series of potentially frightening news images of violent acts in the name of religion. Mentions of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Newsreel images of World War I weapons firing and a brief close-up of a man who may be dead.

Sex

Mention of strippers as a heavenly reward (or hellish punishment).

Language

One use of "ass."

Consumerism

A Starbucks logo is prominently featured but doesn't appear to have any connection to the production. References to substantial financial rewards of religious leaders.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking by adults.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I, Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story is a documentary that's intended to inspire debate about organized religion. The Chuch of the Flying Spaghetti Monster claims more than 30 million members (known as Pastafarians) who are dedicated to questioning why faith-based organizations get special rights. The film firmly argues that God is nonsense and that gods were created long ago to explain the unexplainable in a pre-science era. The noodle-oriented movement teasingly mocks organized religion, following a book they call the "Loose Canon" and finishing prayers with "R-Amen." The film's only off-color remark is that Pastafarians will find beer and strippers waiting for them in the afterlife; "ass" is used once. Pastafarians advocate for nonviolence, and the film uses some frankly disturbing news clips to make its point that quite a bit of death, destruction, and abuse have happened in the name of other organized religions. The movement is founded in countering the notion of teaching creationism in school and includes fascinating footage of the Scopes Monkey Trial. The Pastafarians' earnest, straight-faced delivery about their beliefs may confuse younger viewers about whether it's real or not.

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What's the story?

I, PASTAFARI: A FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER STORY follows the efforts of members of the world's fastest-growing religion -- the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- to receive treatment on par with other established religions. According to Pastafarians, the Flying Spaghetti Monster let his ethereal presence be known in 2005, when the Prophet Bobby Henderson wrote an open letter to the Kansas State School Board requesting that if creationism was to be taught alongside evolution, then instruction should be expanded to include his creation belief as well. After all, can you disprove that an invisible noodle creature sent the world guiding life principles?

Is it any good?

For parents who'd like to inspire more critical thinking in their kids, this introduction to an unusual "faith" may be your starter kit. It's short (56 minutes including credits!), it's got a funny and intriguing premise, and it has a mission that's become essential in our modern world: examining what is a fact. And to do that, groups across Europe are calling into question the greatest collective acceptance of antifact: faith. Pastafari is the world's fastest-growing religion, gaining official recognition in The Netherlands in 2014. To make their cause known, dedicated followers are legally fighting to get their religious headwear -- colanders -- accepted in driver's license photos (call it a small step for noodles). And the members of this tongue-in-cheek religion are stone-cold serious about promoting religious freedom -- specifically, the freedom to not follow a religion.

A professor explains why religions began and lays out a case for why they're a well-organized farce. Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster explain their belief system with a straight face, never breaking character, in an effort to point out that their position may seem ridiculous, but how is it any less ridiculous than other denominations? This church has its rituals -- including Friday noodle mass -- which participants can attend or not. It has principles to follow, but they're offered as suggestions instead of rules. And the underlying philosophies of FSM are similar to those of other organized faith groups, with a few modern additions: live peacefully, be a good person, and work together to lower the cost of cable. The bottom line, the film argues, is that being a good, ethical, moral person is up to you, and following a religion may encourage good behavior -- or may encourage war and mayhem. There's no doubt that I, Pastafari is a conversation starter, but parents of faith may want to preview the content to decide whether it's a conversation their family is ready to have.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about faith. What role does it play in your life, if any? What does it mean to you?

  • What is a "fact"? Do any religious beliefs fly in the face of facts -- or do you see them working together?

  • How are satire, parody, and humor used to convey a message in I, Pastafari? When have you seen it used effectively?

  • How does this documentary compare to others you've seen? Why is this classified as a documentary and not a mockumentary?

Movie details

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For kids who love irreverent approaches to debate

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