Selfie Dad

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Selfie Dad Movie Poster Image
Timely themes in Christian dramedy about dad who goes viral.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Ben learns that his real value lies is in his family and his faith, not in how many likes he gets on social media. As in most faith-based movies, true happiness here is achieved via religious faith, assurance of salvation, sharing the good news with nonbelievers, devotion to God and family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ben is funny and caring, but also occasionally self-centered -- until he turns his focus back to God and his family. Jessica is a loving, devoted wife and mother who prays for Ben to find peace in his faith and be more present in the home. Mickey is always the voice of (Christian) reason, encourages Ben to read the Bible and learn from its teachings. While Mickey could be seen as fitting into cliché of "white savior," cast is fairly racially diverse overall (Ben is Black, his wife is Latina, most of their friends are White or Black, and they have an Asian American pastor).

Violence

Ben injures his hand after punching in frustration. Ben is worried when he's pulled over by a police officer, so he starts to record the encounter; when it turns out the cop is also Black, Ben becomes a little too familiar and is asked to step out of the car.

Sex

Some suggestive comments. A few require reading between the lines ("maybe the kids can go to sleep early tonight," "let's get them to nap right now"), while others are overt ("I need to get out of my clothes ... I didn't mean it that way ... unless you wanted me to"). Reference to a photo sent over text that's obviously a provocative nude or something else inappropriate. A husband admits to "looking at things I shouldn't have" on the internet. Ben admits his father committed adultery and had children with other women without his mother's knowledge.

Language

Slang/insult language: "idiot," "you made me look like a moron," "this is whack," "massive loser."

Consumerism

Volvo, Toyota cars are visible a few times, once in a key scene where Marcus is pulled over by the police. Walmart is briefly mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People have drinks at a party/reception. Ben tells Mickey that his father was a big drinker and that he doesn't want to be like his dad. Mickey admits he once stole beer from a Walmart.

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?

  • Who do you consider a role model in the story? What character strengths do they display, and why are those important to see in popular culture?

  • How is race is addressed in the movie? Here are five tips on how to discuss race and racism.

Movie details

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