Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 64 minutes
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This video mockumentary follows the exploits of Jericho and Randy Johnson (the frighteningly unstable Baptist missionary, not the all-star baseball player) as they make their way from New York back home to Alabama accompanied by their mascot, a dog named “Christ”. Randy (Matthew Williams) has been serving several years as a missionary in “Lower Rotunda” Africa and Jericho, played by director Patrick Bresnan, is documenting the trip for the benefit of their pastor Reverend John. Their way is directed by Rev. John through several urban centers of licentiousness and masturbation like Philadelphia, Nashville and New Orleans. Johnson carries signs warning of false gods like David Hasselhoff or explaining that the three jewels in Satan’s crown are homosexuals, child molesters and Bill Clinton. Neutering also figures prominently in Johnson’s religion and in the overall plot, as Christ (the dog) can attest. Things seem to be going well at first, as they help people in need and spread their message, but as they witness more and more of the inner city’s corrupting power, Johnson begins a rapid and hilarious slide into dementia even as Jericho’s Tourette’s Syndrome begins to act up.
The cleverness of this amazing farce is maintained by the actors who don’t blow their comedic wads too early. At first we chuckle at the reactions of real city pedestrians to the subtly wacky duo and their signs. Williams is perfect with his initial air of bemused, earnest concern and Bresnan’s transition from tearful, spirit-struck sycophant to grief-ridden twit, shrieking with Williams in righteous anguish, is equally amusing. On the street, Johnson talks with many genuine kooks who are only too happy to listen to his spiel and then reel off their own crazy philosophies. Unfortunately there is a bit too much of this in the film. There’s a reason we, as ordinary citizens, don’t stop and listen to the rants of street crazies. It’s because they’re incoherent, and often boringly so. Some of this material works, but the film’s real strengths are the characters of Jericho and Randy and many of the “real” people in the film are distracting and just don’t measure up.
Aside from this, Bresnan’s work is consistently funny, whether it is stepping gently over the line of good taste or throwing itself headlong over it as in William’s shower scene with Christ (the dog). The film is bound to offend many legitimate Baptists, but just as there are no masturbators in heaven, there are probably very few pious Baptists in indie screening rooms. All I can see are two great characters in search of a feature length comedy.
Posted on August 21, 2000 in Reviews by James Sweeney
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