A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Selfie Dad is a faith-based dramedy about the difficulties of a husband and father who feels unfulfilled until his comedic "UToo" videos start going viral. Considering the genre, it's no surprise that main character Ben Marcus' (Christian comedian Michael Jr.) life doesn't truly get better until he starts reading and learning from the Bible. Written and directed by Brad J. Silverman, an evangelical Christian who was also once a comedian, the movie doesn't linger on issues of race, but it doesn't ignore it either. For example, there's a slightly uncomfortable police encounter in which the fact that both Ben and the cop are Black ends up being played for laughs. Expect some mild insult language ("loser," "moron," "idiot") and brief drinking at a celebratory dinner. Like most Christian movies, Selfie Dad preaches mainly to the already converted -- it's main message is to go all in on reading the Bible -- but Michael Jr. is believable as a former stand-up, and the movie captures the challenges of trying to pursue a career in popular entertainment while also remaining true to your faith.
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What's the story?
SELFIE DAD is a faith-based dramedy about Ben Marcus (Michael Jr.), a Black suburban husband and father who was once an up-and-coming comic but is now the put-upon editor for a popular home and garden show with a demanding -- and demeaning -- White host. After Ben has a conversation with his tween son, Jack (Jalon Christian), and finds out that "UToo" stars make lots of money with their millions of subscribers, Ben decides to try uploading one of his comedy bits to the video service. Once his "DIY goes wrong" video goes viral, Ben becomes singularly focused on growing his channel and brand. Meanwhile, Ben's colleague Mickey (Johnny Pacar), a young IT guy who's finishing his ministerial/theology degree, encourages Ben to read the Bible and follow Jesus' teachings for more than Sunday morning church services. When a frightening family situation causes Ben and his wife, Jessica (Dahlia Waingort), to pray for their teen daughter Hannah's (Shelby Simmons) safety, Ben turns to prayer and the Bible for answers.
Is it any good?
Made for and by Christians, this dramedy about a dad whose funny social media videos make him an internet celebrity focuses on how it's God, not subscribers, who ultimately matters. Anyone who isn't an evangelical Christian might not understand why Ben's faith is in question when he goes to church and loves his family, but Selfie Dad is about those who just go through the motions of faith without a fervent, daily devotion, like reading the Bible, family prayer, and more.
Michael Jr., a real-life Christian comedian, is definitely believable as a former stand-up comic. His opening bit about running behind a White woman without realizing she's looking behind her in fear has, sadly, never seemed more relevant than it does in 2020. But it's also the funniest bit in the movie. While Michael as Ben has good comic timing, the "UToo" clips that make Ben famous aren't really all that laugh-out-loud funny. It's also kind of unbelievable to think that a professional video editor wouldn't be aware of the internet's premiere video-sharing site or know how to do something as simple as delete a video, but viewers looking for Christian entertainment will be able to shrug off those missteps. As Ben's patient wife, Waingort does a good job of conveying the frustration of having a husband who's there but not present. The tween and teen kids are mostly set dressing, but each helps move the story along. And Ben's young, filled-with-the-spirit colleague Mickey could be construed as a "White savior" (stepping in for the ultimate savior, in this case), because it's through that friendship that Ben discovers that he needs to recommit himself to his religious beliefs. Is this the sort of faith-based movie that will appeal to secular audiences? No, but it's one of the genre's better, less over-the-top dramatic offerings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages in Selfie Dad. Are they all religious? Do you think the movie is intended just for Christians, or can non-Christians enjoy it too?
This movie is critical of the entertainment industry, in particular social media and comedy. Do you think there's room for people of faith in mainstream entertainment?
How is race is addressed in the movie? Here are five tips on how to discuss race and racism.
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