Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You (Unless You Live in New York City)

Now that Fireproof has paved the way for a new genre of big-budget evangelical Christian films, another is on the horizon: Not Easily Broken, based on the novel by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes. As a cinephile who arrives at the theater early to see all the trailers, I'm intrigued by the way these ultra-conservative Christian movies try to sell themselves as ordinary mainstream films (in the hope, presumably, of converting oblivious non-Christian filmgoers). So how do you know if you're walking into an evangelical cinema-trap? Just watch the trailers closely and look for these tell-tale signs:

1. The "Lifetime Original Movie" vibe.
As noted by Daniel Radosh, all of these films take place in vaguely similar, generic suburban worlds that could double as the set for a very special Tori Spelling film about bulimic baby-snatchers.

2. Main characters who are already married.
No romance or sexual tension here: the leads in these films are already hitched, and the words "wife," "husband", "marriage" and "relationship" appear disproportionately in the dialogue.

Not Easily Broken trailer:

3. Shots of men doing manly things (like firefighting or playing sports), followed by shots of men crying.
The better to embody that "warrior poet" duality that evangelicals are so fond of. WWJD? Play basketball, then cry.

4. Crosses instead of boobs.
In your average Hollywood film trailer, regardless of genre, there's probably a very brief flash of a woman throwing off her clothing, or a couple falling into bed, to demonstrate the film's sex appeal. In Christian movie trailers, these hints of nudity are replaced with blink-and-you'll-miss-it shots of characters praying or churchgoing.

Fireproof trailer:

5. A group sales number after the credits.
Go on, take the whole church!

6.Kirk Cameron
A dead giveaway, every time.

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