Posted by Nicholas Rapp on August 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm
Robert’s son asks him “what’s a douche?” and naturally Robert asks where he heard that word – Robert’s ex-wife had been calling Robert that name behind his back. So Robert takes this opportunity to tell his son that a “douche” is someone who is tall, and awesome; very much like himself, of course. To be blunt, Robert has little to no redeeming qualities. He is a “douchebag,” but more in the style of the urban dictionary definition: “An individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intellegence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears.” But his mantra – what he tells his audience after each of his agnostic sermons – is “don’t be a douche.” This tickles me. Robert’s redeeming quality is that he KNOWS he is a douchebag (somewhere, deep down), and the greatest wisdom he can impart upon his audiences is “don’t be like me.” I would have appreciated this mantra more, however, had it not taken so long each sermon for him to get to it. I expected a film about an actor turned preacher. I didn’t expect to actually get preached at.
It’s the general storyline that is most genius about this film, and which sparked my excitement about watching it. Robert is a failing Shakespearian actor who is dragged by his Catholic girlfriend to church. He sees that being a preacher isn’t so different than being an actor in that the priest memorizes a speech and with much vigor and enthusiasm attempts to affect his audience. When Robert sees the priest driving from church in a Hummer H3, and learns of the gratuity churchgoers pay every mass, Robert decides to become an agnostic preacher.
The storyline has a lot of potential, and coming from a first time director/writer/leading actor, I am very impressed by what Scott Michael Walker has delivered in Rockin’ Reverend. Though, with that sentiment aside, there are issues with the film that cannot be ignored.
There are two kinds of indie films: the simple, and the extravagant. Most successful indie films are simple, making excellent use of the small supply they’ve got to work with. The majority of indie films that attempt extravagance, however, pale in comparison to their big budget counterparts. And by extravagance I am referring to Porsches and mansions. It is implied that Robert purchases a Porsche when he and his girlfriend step inside one at a dealership. They don’t drive away in it though. It is implied that Robert has become a hotshot party host at his new mansion when two blonde girls snort cocaine in his bathroom. I never saw more than a handful of people at the mansion though, which made these “parties” seem more like small get-togethers. But of my biggest issues were the many scenes that Robert the Rockin Reverend is giving his sermons to what is implied are a great many people, and the audience isn’t shown. If I am to believe a man is giving a sermon, I need to see the people he is preaching too. What the film lacked was the wealth of extra necessary to carry the genius plot to fruition. There were a fine amount of extras in the Catholic church scene, so why not have them present in Robert’s sermons too?
Many scenes suffered from glare in the top left or right corner of the picture. Glare is one of those issues I can accept no excuse for. It can be taken care of with timing of the sun, and proper camera positioning. That there were some scenes where certain shots had glare and others did not, baffles me. These scenes felt choppy and incomplete.