What Would Jesus Buy?

"OK"

What Would Jesus Buy? Review


It's almost Christmas again, and time to start shopping. As usual, the number of front-yard nativity scenes seems proportional to the emptiness of the holiday.

Enter Bill Talen, aka Reverend Billy, a performance artist who takes his evangelist shtick and his troupe, the Church of Stop Shopping (including a choir), around America to shopping malls, Disneyland, etc. to rail against consumerism. In the tradition of other recent smartass documentaries (such as co-producer Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me), What Would Jesus Buy? follows the troupe as they yell at Christmas shoppers, stage a mock funeral for small-town America (at the Wal-Mart corporate office in Bentonville) and go caroling, rewriting the words of "Joy to the World" to "We don't need so much junk." Amen.

The most effective moment of What Would Jesus Buy? is not any of Rev. Billy's silly guerrilla-theater exploits (even though he is apparently sincere). It's a montage of pictures and home movies from Talen's South Dakota childhood, showing his sisters playing piano and other sane family members. Contrasted with the freakshow of rabid mall rats and shopping addicts depicted in the rest of the film, it makes you wonder what the hell has happened to America.

However, Rev. Billy is also a freak, with his bug-eyed roadkill stare and a dye job that would shame Jessica Simpson. Or at least, he's pretending to be one. And that's the problem with today's America: Where are the normal people?

The answer is, of course, they are still everywhere, except on TV or in the movies. The filmmakers interview a few of them, and they talk about growing up without much money and being happy anyway at Christmastime. But most of the interviews are with shopaholics and the conclusion is pretty depressing: In modern America, Christmas signifies bling.

The commercialization of Christmas is an old theme --- A Charlie Brown Christmas riffed on it memorably in the 1960s, and it's also a recurring theme of Marxist professors, for those who care. But sadly, George W. Bush has vindicated even the stupidest critiques of America. Bush's suggestion after 9/11 that consumer spending is a patriotic gesture was just not the right message at a time when Americans' consumer debt exceeded $2 trillion (according to the film, Americans charge $100 billion each Xmas).

Spending money to keep the economy moving made sense back when Americans still produced most of the goods we consumed. But many non-service jobs have been outsourced, and when Americans spend money it primarily enriches long-distance truckers and Asian sweatshops. Like so much of what has happened in the last 20 years, it's a good blueprint for ruining the nation.

In reality, the patriotic thing would be to shop less and to buy American. Bush got it wrong. As usual. Rev. Billy has it right. Apart from its irreligiosity, shopping 'til you drop is bad for America. Our endless consumption of cheap crap is a moral issue, even a geopolitical issue. But it's an issue with a solution, and you don't have to join a church. Just... stop... shopping. Don't buy anything unless you have to, and find some other way to spend your time. You'll probably be happier.

Rev. Billy's approach is unlikely to change anything or convince anybody, partly because it paints consumerism mostly as a religious issue, and for a lot of people, religion is an instant turn-off. And they have a point -- Christianity started out as a superstitious cult. But through the centuries it became a carrier of cultural meaning. Christmas is a symbol of that. And what Christmas has become in modern America is a pathetic spectacle.

So we need a better movie about this subject. As usual.



What Would Jesus Buy?

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th November 2007

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Mammouth Releasing

Production compaines: Palisades Pictures, Warrior Poets

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Rob VanAlkemade

Producer: Peter Hutchison, Stacey Offman,

Starring: Reverend Billy as Reverend Billy, James Solomon Benn as Choir Director, Savitri Durkee as Church Director

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Advertisement
Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.