There may be rockin’ reverend shaking things up, but I won’t roll with him. Scot Michael Walker writes, stars, and directs this movie where his character spreads the message of “Don’t Be A Douche.” The reverend’s ministry thrives on false equivalence: that bad religion isn’t worth your life, so trust MY depressing, aimless religion.
Rockin’ Reverend lacks the wit to be a satire. Within the first 12 minutes, Robert is established as a vulgar loser. I don’t buy his easy, but unearned, success. Alas, I’m writing a movie review, not hashing out an apologia.
Reverend takes place in a sad town where the only places Christians could get edified is either a stereotypical killjoy Big Church or Robert’s illegitimate ministry. The movie goes out of its way to show that the viewer should side with Robert and Robert’s ascendancy goes unchallenged. However, not even the event where Robert gets his supposed comeuppance is satisfying.
Robert, a struggling actor who lives with his younger girlfriend, finds a way to make a lots of money: fleecing people while getting them away from the Gospel. Robert speaks of not being a douche while damaging every meaningful relationship he has: his (ex?)wife, his best friend, and his son.
It’s easily apparent that Robert is selfish and a wretched role model. It’s hard for me to sympathize with his journey. Robert’s hang ups with the story of Abraham and Isaac early in the movie present a squandered opportunity to examine father-son relationships biblical and secular.
Watch the Rockin’ Revered trailer:
It’s troubling to think that he wants people to escape from a restrictive religion to his weak belief system. Robert’s ministry goes mostly unchecked. His job interviewer would rather sneer sexual innuendo than checking his theological knowledge. His girlfriend shifts between throwing away her flimsy faith for him and scolding him for sinning. The only genuine challenge is a brief one with a news anchor about two-thirds into the movie. Afterwards, Robert continues on his merry way to oblivion.
Robert’s Rockin’ Reverend stage show is unbelievable. He models his performance on stand-up comics. He doesn’t read one verse of the Bible to at least build credible stances. I didn’t see any mass congregations hanging on his every word. There’s no indication that people have formed a fellowship around Robert’s teachings, however bizarre it may be.
Robert himself isn’t compelling or charming. His only talent is being as audacious and profane as possible. This wolf in wolf’s clothing delivers typical atheist critiques of Christianity. If I wanted barbed criticisms veiled as comedy, I’d watch videos of George Carlin.
Leap of Faith with Steve Martin as a charismatic revivalist conman, this movie ain’t.
Rockin’ Reverend seems like a presentation on how atheists think Christianity is (stifling and contradictory) and what they’d like Christianity to be (all-loving, yet toothless). While I’m no theologian, Christ’s life and teachings, not clinging to rules, are central to Christianity. The Old Testament, meanwhile, is mostly historical background on God’s relationship with humanity. I believe that Jesus’ crucifixion established new “rules” over the most of the “rules” of the Old Testament.
With Jesus’ sacrifice, it’s insanity to believe that every single command and instruction God ever gave in the Old Testament to be binding to Christ’s followers. As someone immersed in Christian culture but grapples with Christian responsibility, this is the closest thing I have to an apologia.
By the end, I’m actually relieved that people who loved and trusted him don’t have to put up with his deception anymore. Robert may have intended to spread goodwill, but he’s a dangerous hypocrite. As a movie, Rockin’ Reverend is transparent in its purpose to criticize Christianity without thoroughly examining the character doing the criticizing. Maybe some people will find plenty of laughs from this movie. God help them.
Thanks to Scot Michael Walker for providing a screener and my apologies for not getting to this movie sooner.