Review: "Church People" Spoofs Megachurch Phenomenon
This Christian satire points to the sufficiency of the Gospel of Christ as the means to spread the Faith.
If you despair of the mass marketing techniques deployed by many modern American churches to generate ever greater attendance, then Church People is the movie for you. It follows youth pastor Guy Sides as he takes a stand against the escalating razzmatazz at his megachurch with a simple question: "Is the Gospel enough?"
Played by Christian comedian Thor Ramsey - who's making his feature film debut and is the man who wrote the story - Sides faces a steep climb in his drive to refocus on sincere ministry. That's because his lead pastor boss, portrayed by Michael Monks, is bent on jacking up attendance with more and more outlandish stunts and plans to outdo himself on Good Friday by putting on an actual crucifixion. Ramsey's character pulls together an odd-ball team to help him thwart the potentially blasphemous spectacle.
We tip our hat to producer Stephen Baldwin, who also plays the part of a seemingly all-knowing, ever-present eccentric at the church, for a quality production that features a strong cast, including Donald Faison, Joey Fatone and Erin Cahill as the lead pastor's daughter and love interest/ally for the Sides character. The story is well crafted, covers lots of territory, delivers a few good surprises and a serious resolution that points to the primacy of the Gospel.
Ramsey and fellow screenwriters Bob Saenz and Wes Halula tell a clever tale, to be sure, though we found it more witty than funny and suspect moviegoers are likely to respond with chuckles as opposed to belly-laughs. And some of the schtick from the characters becomes a bit much later in the movie, having been repeatedly revisited.
That said, Church People, is a well-done picture that entertainingly calls attention to a foundational issue in the Body of Christ: the necessity for Believers to keep the focus on the message of Jesus himself as the best way to help others see the light. That alone makes this a movie worth watching, which you can do starting this Saturday, when it begins a three-day run in theaters nationwide. Until then, the trailer below will give you a better feel for what you can expect.