Indy Film Fest–Faith Based
As a phenomenon, faith-based movies are, much like the industry they represent, meant to represent the values they espouse only as far as the dollar takes it.
It could be said that Vincent Masciale’s “Faith Based,” which skewers the process by which faith-based films are made, in this case by two slackers (Luke Barnett and Tanner Thomason, each using their real first names) looking to spark a Hollywood career.
Neither Luke nor Tanner are particularly godly men, but when they realize that faith-based films are almost universally profitable no matter their quality, they see dollar signs in their future.
They even visit a Christian studio, where they are promised $200,000 for simply delivering a completed film that contains words appealing to the Christian crowd in the title and in dialog. They also learn Rambo-esque 80s action star Butch Savage (David Koechner) is now “born again,” and they see an opportunity to cast him in their film.
Like the guys whose story he’s telling, Masciale doesn’t tell a great story. Somehow, he managed to pull in a few recognizable faces–Richard Riehle is a veteran who has appeared in films like “Office Space” and “Casino,” and names like Margaret Cho and Koechner are well-known in Hollywood.
But Jason Alexander? Yes, George Costanza gets a scene as a multilevel marketing guru, in a part that’s not particularly important, nor is it especially funny or meaningful to the story. But these roles give the film a sense of legitimacy that it otherwise wouldn’t have had.
But still, “Faith Based” tells a story that should be told, and that most mainstream studios frankly wouldn’t have the guts to actually tell for fear of reprisal. And there are moments of biting satire, showing the tone-deaf reality of casting actors long past their expiration date. On one hand, good for them for extending their careers and finding a new niche. But on the other, the complete lack of self-awareness, and insincerity that comes along with it is the very definition of selling one’s soul, in the most self-important way possible.
There is one sequence in particular that really hits the mark, revolving around the more progressive Christian rock bands permeating many a suburban megachurch. The one depicted here sings a song that, while it may not make The Dan Band from “Old School” sweat, could sing at my parties any time, especially if they have a couple more songs as good as “I Hung a Huge Cross.”
So in that way, “Faith Based” is worth a recommendation, and, like the film within a film they make here, makes a point about the churchgoing crowd, about the faith-based film market, and what constitutes a hit for them, is viewed more in terms of dollar signs than souls saved.