God, Church and Christians: Misconceptions and Bad Conceptions

“Christians are very judgmental.”
“Organized religion is a cult.”
“Only church people make it to heaven.”
“Christianity requires you to ‘give up’ fun things, or restrict yourself.”
“You can’t dress or act like that in here.”
“Something must be wrong with you…that’s why God let this happen.”
“Once I was able to reason, I learned I was a sinner and God was upset. I [also] discovered non-Christians are also nice people. So whom do you believe?”

I have been raised Christian my entire life. I have never been the guy to hang out on the streets and try to hand you a Bible, or the guy to protest others for their “ugly sins.” My expression avenues have always been through music and trying to manage my own life the best I can. In 2015, there are so many varying views, opinions, lifestyles and experiences as people try to live their very best across the world. But what’s interesting is that God seems to be the entity receiving the largest amount of mixed conceptions. Some thank God when good things happen, some blame him when the bad takes place (or both). Some may choose another route completely, finding something else to put their trust in. Why is that?

Here’s my theory: any time we don’t like something, that means we had a previous influence steer us away from it. It could be our own perception, another person’s opinion, or even a bad experience. My brother doesn’t like peanut butter because he didn’t like the taste of it – but he has to taste it first to arrive at that conclusion. Some may have negative conceptions of God because of a former experience (or experiences) that they had, which may often have been with other people. Even people who are church-goers and/or Christians have confused and discouraged each other with their words, sometimes right in the church! Next thing you know, you have people in the church leaving, and people outside the church wanting nothing to do with “that religion stuff” or “the crazies” or “the high-and-mighties.” All of this and MUCH more, as I’m finding, is a leading cause is misrepresenting what God is actually about, and misleading people away from Him.

Today, I don’t want to try to force you to think you need to drop what you’re doing and run to the altar with your hands up. I don’t want to tell you how wrong you are, or how right you are. That’s not my place, and I am not an expert myself – just a young, 20something black male. I want to, instead, address the things that are untrue about God, church and faith that are false stereotypes; but also the bad things that are being done, which NEED to stop.

Misconceptions:

  1. “You’re not good enough” or “God doesn’t love you”: Some church folks have shown this with the hesitant way they act towards newcomers. Some just up and say it to your face. Some who may not be church-goers say it to keep you away from trying church. LOOK: Anyone, no matter who you are, should never tell this to any human being no matter what the context. I’ve written plenty of blog posts and research papers, and although I’m far from being published, no one can tell me I’m not good enough at it to try. I’d just work harder at it and seek outside assistance when proofreading! So don’t tell anyone they aren’t good enough for God. He loves everyone the same no matter what, and saying otherwise will only discourage them, tick them off, and misrepresent what God’s about. It DOES show, however, excellence in ignorance.
  2. “Church makes you christian”: Here’s the thing: sitting in a Starbucks doesn’t make you a frappuccino. As great as church has been for me personally, no church is perfect. And the good ones are aware – that’s why they exist, to foster people needing God to help them! Being Christian means you accept Jesus and you have (or are developing) a relationship with Him. Going to church surrounds you with his messages to give you a weekly spiritual boost, and it surrounds you with others trying to keep themselves on his straight-and-narrow as well. Otherwise, it’s like marathon training by yourself: not like you can’t do it, but when you go through the rough stages or want to quit, you need someone there to help push you along and tell you not to give up!
  3. “Christians are perfect” – I’m not perfect because of Jesus. I’m not perfect, so I need Jesus! If people were perfect, there would be no reason to do or be anything, because we’d all be robots. Don’t let anyone fool you – everyone has their shortcomings.
  4. “You have to act a certain way”: The only thing you HAVE to do as a Christian is believe in Jesus and try to live your life as a good example through Him. But listen: believing in God doesn’t always mean you were the worst human being on earth before, and some Christians write others off when they make it sound like this. God takes you as you are, and makes you better. Plain and simple!! So if you go to church for the first time looking for answers in a very difficult time, don’t let Sister Patty LaWeave and her attitude tell you “sorry but we don’t let hoochies in here” or “you might want to change your clothes before you come to God” or even “God wouldn’t have made you that way if he loved you.” You just stay in there and get whatever it is that you needed that day. At the end of the day, you’re still his son or daughter, and he just wants the chance to be there for you. Sister Patty LaWeave has nothing to do with that, because she can’t help you.

Bad Conceptions:

  1. JUDGEMENTAL CHRISTIANS: The #1 complaint of Christians from day one. I can’t call this a misconception because it is true of many – not all by any means, but it definitely exists. The Bible tells God’s followers not to do this unless they want to be judged too. But this is a problem far spanning religion. Christians are judged for being Bible-toting do-gooders who stay in their little judgmental box. Minorities are judged based on the color of their skin. Women are judged by men who don’t want to be surpassed. The LBGT community is judged by those who ask why they “choose being this way”. I could go on, but look: WE ARE ALL PEOPLE. PERIOD! If you don’t accept me or respect me, my default will be to want nothing you stand for. But if you, the imperfect person, show me, another imperfect person, respect and kindness, I may be more open to you and what you stand for.
  2. Christians saying negative things to each other: Some of the things that are said are misconceptions. The fact that negative things are being said is not a misconception. I’ve touched on some of these examples already, as well as the fact that we need to treat each other with respect. Yes? Yes. This is at its’ worse here because the church is a place where people should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. The rest of the world has enough negativity and esteem-knocking as it is! The worst example I heard recently was a Christian telling a woman with a miscarriage that God took their child because “something must have been wrong with it, but better that He took it instead of letting it be born with something wrong.” Are you kidding me?!? The fact that this statement alone didn’t completely steer this person away from God in such a vulnerable time is a miracle of God in itself.
  3. Churches are close-minded/won’t adapt: This is another thing that many are guilty of, but it’s also associated with the Christian stereotype. It also boils down to: some people like things a certain way and in strict order, while others are cooler about going with the flow. I’m no expert in how churches operate, but when my church had to move to new buildings twice within two years and across town, being closed-minded was not an option. We had to adapt to some logistical change nearly every week, and without people willing to adapt, there would be no church right now. If a marketing consultant never adapts with social media sites, he or she is chopping out a huge part of potential outlets and the company doesn’t grow as well. I could go on with more examples, but you get the point. When things change, good or bad, we have to go with it if we want to grow. Otherwise, we’d all be perfect, right?

Now, I don’t want the things I’ve just mentioned to scare people away from God. But these are very real things that anyone may have experienced when it comes to him, church and other Christians. It is true that some Christians don’t always use the best approach. It’s also true that some Christians really do their best to represent God to anyone they encounter. I’m not always the best example, but I try to remain open-minded, I love all sorts of people, and I tend to get along with most people I meet. My personal experience is that God has gotten me where I am today, and I just don’t want to see more people write the guy off because of Christians saying or doing blatantly negative things. You hear about Westboro Baptist Church type of situations, and well, of course people are going to feel some kind of way!

To reiterate my bottom line: WE ARE ALL PEOPLE. NO ONE IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER. Me talking to Jesus does not, in any way, make me a better human being that you. We all have eyes, ears, hands and toes. We all like to eat, look forward to payday, and enjoy the electric slide a wedding once in a while. Not only are we all human: none of us are perfect. In fact, I am quite aware of how flawed I am. I’ll probably make a good few mistakes tomorrow! Now, my comfort in making my mistakes is that, no matter what, God will forgive me and let me pick up & learn from it (sometimes, after checking me). This doesn’t give me a license to be a screw-up; it just insures me that no matter what, He will still love me. Maybe not all my actions, but me. He has this thing called unconditional love – and nothing we do is ever bad enough for it to run out. No living thing on earth is capable of this. I can say with certainty that when I found myself as low as I could possibly be, God’s unconditional love was the only thing to let me know it’d be all right, and to pick things back up. (It wasn’t stories I’d heard, not other people so much, not any of my stuff – it’s something no one else can provide quite as well).

Depending on the eyes reading those last few statements, the word “preachy” may come to mind. That is far from my goal, or my calling in life. But I want to close with these two things that I hope we can all at least try to agree on:

  1. Love each other. Everyone on this earth deserves that, no matter what. When I see people, I don’t immediately think of them as gay, white, Japanese, Jewish, fat, sick, mentally challenged or whatever. I say “hey Sam, how’s it going?” Even if some people make me hope I never see them again for some reason, I still do my best to treat them right. Not only do I want that back from them, but it’s how we were made. Everybody doesn’t stick to that all the time, but I can only work on me.
  1. Meet people where they’re at. We are all very different from each other! I can’t necessarily talk to a young person about faith the same way I would to an old person (for example). Christians, every approach can’t be the same for everybody – once we’ve acknowledged that we weren’t sprung from the ground perfect, we need to respect and love people before trying to approach them about God. And if you’re someone being approached about God, I’d say at least be open to listening. Hopefully it’s done in a way that peaks an interest in the very least. I promise you, it was His sheer grace alone that got me where I am today and kept my family alive countless times. True story.

We all have free will to chose whatever we wish to believe. Just remember: a student has to be willing to be taught, but it won’t work if the teacher only says “nope, wrong answer, it was 6.” But if the teacher says “here’s how I got there; now you try for yourself. If you want it, you can totally do it”, the results might just be a little different.

-BB2

Fighting Temptations: Did It Do the Church Justice?

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Fighting Temptations (2003)

SUMMARY

Darrin (Gooding) and his mother (Faith Evans) were kicked out of the church when he was young because mom was singing secular music in the church. Darrin grows up to be a slick-talking city guy and gets cut from his job in NY as a junior level executive for an alcohol ad agency after having lied his way close to the top. He then learns that his only living relative, Aunt Sally, from small town Montecarlo, GA has passed away and has willed him the church choir. The choir regularly competes in the Gospel Explosion competition, and Darrin continues the lies in order to win the prize money to solve his financial issues – he says he’s a music producer, and even bribes better singers to join the choir with half of the prize money. He even convinces the town hottie, Lily (Beyonce) to join, despite her being looked down for the same reasons as Darrin’s mother. After gaining a group of very…um, “diverse” singers, the choir finally starts to get pretty good. But will Darrin’s incessant lies finally catch up with him? Will the pastor’s selfish but sneaky sister figure him out? Will Mike Epps ever get his 50/50? Come on kids, let’s find out!

WHAT WORKS

  1. Singers – We get Beyonce, Angie Stone, Shirley Ceasar, The O’Jays,Faith Evans, Montell Jordan…TONS of great singing talent/legends in the movie. As a group and for the solos we get (and this film is littered with solo performances and choir songs), everything sounds musically pretty legit. Some songs are more memorable than others, of course, and we even get a little infusion of more contemporary music. So yes, the soundtrack pretty good (especially how nice the song at the Gospel Explosion is)…the performances are too showy though.
    gal-actress-rue-mcclanahan-22-jpg
  2. Choir Audition Montage – Not really the best of these kinds of scenes, but it was entertaining. Steve Harvey announcing over the radio “atheists can now audition” was perfect.
  3. Steve Harvey – Harvey works for the radio station in town, keeping the town up to date on everything “happening” – whether it’s the grueling hot temperature or the fact that Darrin is on the way to the church, and this now news. But all his jokes/one-liners about what’s going on genuinely felt like Steve Harvey saw them filming this movie and just wandered around cracking on them. “The 5 Blind Boys of Alabama are next…it used to be 6 but one of them got healed and he’s their driver now…and they need him, because they used to walk the wrong way to gigs.”
    "We're down here baptizing 3 Lost souls [who] are looking for Jesus...although personally, I don't think this is where He fell in."

    “We’re down here baptizing 3 Lost souls [who] are looking for Jesus…although personally, I don’t think this is where He fell in.”

  4. Aunt Sally – We see very little of Darrin’s Aunt Sally, but she is the only one to stand up to Pauline and represent what God actually loving these people. Later Darrin reads an old letter from her that pretty much sums up the morale: “why can’t you just accept yourself for who you are? I do!” I wish it was possible to have more of her in the movie (maybe via flashbacks) because she was the closest thing to embodiment of the heart of the movie.
  5. Montell Jordan – He plays one of 3 inmates who join the choir because the warden says “I have inmates who can sing better than your choir!” He talks/sings in falsetto the entire time, and is pretty dang funny. You know your performance is golden when you can somehow say “I ain’t doin’ it!” in falsetto, with a neck tattoo of a spider, while still sounding intimidating.

    "What group did you sing with?" "Doesn't matter. They're DEAD now."

    “What group did you sing with?”
    “Doesn’t matter. They’re DEAD now.”

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Beyonce – Okay, here’s the deal: this came out in 2003. We’ve seen Beyonce perform much stronger as a singer, actor and overall performer in the last 11 years. However, for what we had come to know of her by the time this came out (post-Destiny’s Child, starting the solo career & getting into movies), this wasn’t really her best work for what we’d come to expect of her. I mean yeah, she is a great singer, and she gets to share the stage with some great talent in this movie. But her performance in this movie (save some moments in her songs) is pretty underwhelming. I’m not saying Beyonce is NOT a good performer here. I’m saying she doesn’t seem up to her usual Beyonce levels of greatness. And the writing leaves her to be darn bland/cardboard as a character; though I won’t act like some of her deliveries could have been better on her own.
    lilly
  2. Hollywood’s Stereotypical Church – I watched this with my brother, who pointed out “it feels like Hollywood is saying this is what church is like. But it isn’t.” I definitely think there’s some merit to this idea. Joyful Noise had some of this as well (more so in situations/morals than services) , and we’ve seen it in movies throughout the years – over-exaggerated, hyper-enthusiastic, dramatic “praise de lawd, glory hallelujah” jumping up and down churches. I grew up in churches that one might argue was similar to this (upbeat music, loud, mostly black people excitedly/passionately praising God) but it was very earnest and meaningful in doing so. It was not the big “production” the media portrays it to be. This is purely for entertainment value and is not really representative of what churches like this are…well, like. And it’s frankly kind of insulting when you really think about it. It also leads into the next problem…
  3. Singing in Clubs = Dismissal from Church – The “antagonist” nagging sister of the pastor, Pauline, calls Darrin’s mom out at the beginning of the movie for singing in the church choir Sunday but singing in the club Saturday. She is then faced with the ultimatum of choosing, and choosing to leave. First of all, it’s in front of everybody over a matter that should just concern the choir. That’s not an issue everyone should be privy to. Second, I realize this is supposed to be a mean-spirited moment of ‘we don’t accept this non-Christian lifestyle’, but it’s too mean-spirited. They, as a church, condemn one “wrong” thing with poor Faith Evan’s character and essentially kick her out of the church, which goes against everything the church should stand for. And I can say ‘as a church’ because even though it’s spearheaded by the pastor’s sister, he eventually backs down and states the ultimatum, and despite the efforts of Aunt Sally, the rest of the bystanders just stand by and let this happen. Also, this carried into Lily’s backstory as far as why she feels the church doesn’t accept her, and it doesn’t seem even remotely ‘bad enough’ for why someone would not be accepted in this church. Why it’s not vs. what would be, is a whole ‘nother discussion – but for the movie’s purposes, this just feels really contrived and not that authentic. I’m positive that there are churches that make others feel publicly unwelcome because of their personal shortcomings, but…not like this. Not this dramatic.

    "You can't change THAT from the church bylaws! It'll change everything!"

    “You can’t change THAT from the church bylaws! It’ll change everything!”

  4. Pastor’s Lack of Backbone – This is his only character trait. I realize it’s supposed to be for laughs, but it gets old very quickly. The more he gives into his sister’s pouting and judgemental-based statements, the more she is really the one running (therefore RUINING) the church. This only emphasizes a big problem with the movie – there’s no reverence for the church. The closest character we get who is both strong and representing what the church actually stands for is Aunt Sally, but of course she dies so soon and we see so little of her. The pastor is weak, and many of the characters are pursuing their own selfish motivations. Therefore, no one is really standing for much when it all comes down to it. “When you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”

WHAT’S SILLY

  1. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Directing – Obviously, Darrin isn’t supposed to know what he’s doing as a choir director and fakes it throughout the movie. And I’m sure in real life, Gooding was likely never a gospel choir director. But I really wonder if they told him to just jump around for the whole movie, or if this is really his own interpretation of how to do this. If you ever watch a gospel choir director, yes, IT IS NO JOKE. It’s a very physical activity for which you better have eaten your wheaties and finished jogging a few miles first just to stay in shape! However, there are actual musical cues involved at work, and Gooding does none of them. Yeah, it’s pretty entertaining though. I’ll leave it at that – not good, not bad, just silly.
    ft cuba

CONCLUSION

I said a lot about this movie, which is interesting because it’s not like it’s the most memorable film! It was a fun movie to watch as a kid when it came out, but it really isn’t much memorable beyond its’ soundtrack and a few jokes. Montell Jordan & Steve Harvey get in some good laughs (a couple from Mike Epps as well), Cuba Gooding Jr. is technically perfect for the role, and this movie’s heart was in the right place. But it does suffer from convoluting this with the Hollywood version of what the church is like in a mean-spirited way. The “antagonist” was the pastor’s nagging sister Pauline, and the movie didn’t really need a person to do what she does  – the real antagonist could have just been the negative emotions created with Darrin’s lies and everyone’s selfishness blocking any good intentions. There wasn’t a good enough balance to make the movie really mean something. But everyone had fun singing and carrying on, and somewhere Mike Epps is bragging about how he was in a choir movie in which he probably never actually sang a note. So, there’s that.

It was a close one for me – pretty down-the-middle movie when it’s all said & done…but what tipped it just over the edge was the lousy/lazy interpretation of the church and its’ effect on the characters & the plot.

BLACKOMETER: 4.8/10

Let me know what you think!

-BB2

Joyful Noise: A Movie that Missed the Point

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Joyful Noise (2012)

Queen Latifah & Dolly Parton in a movie together about singing. What could go wrong? (Good question.)

SUMMARY:

Queen Latifah & Dolly Parton both sing in a church choir together – a pretty good one – who is known for coming out successfully in church choir competitions. They are led by Parton’s father, who passes away suddenly, but the church elects Latifah as the new leader instead of Parton. Of course, Dolly Parton isn’t super pleased that she wasn’t chosen, and makes this pretty clear, spawning an odd little feud with Latifah. Meanwhile, Latifah has to deal with her two children Keke Palmer (who wants to be a breakup star but struggles to deal with her MIA father) & song w/a mental illness. Parton’s grandson shows up as the oddball trouble-making who shakes things up, and gets close to Keke Palmer, despite her mother’s strict ‘be home when the streetlights come on and praise the Lord’ rules. Throughout the movie, Latifah has to deal with the choir wanting her to not be so stubborn with her overly-traditional ways, and this even includes dealing with some family issues.

WHAT’S… okay.

  1. Music – The songs are nice. Not memorable, but everyone does a good job musically. The singers can sing. That’s a good start. The music is done by Mervyn Warren, by the way – a great musician/producer who’s knows what he’s doing (he was even in Take 6 for some years at their start). That helps. Parton’s song reflecting on her father is nice, but forgettable.
  2. My Old Friend Courtney – Oh look, it’s Courtney B. Vance! Preaching yet again. Haven’t seen him since Preacher’s Wife. Ha. How fun.
  3. Walter – At first, I didn’t think I’d like Latifah’s son, Walter, in this movie, who is dealing with life as a teen with asperger syndrome. But I do like what this character brings to the movie – he was well-written, brought a lot of realistic struggle (yet heart) to the story, and should have been the only major subplot. The best part of the movie is his scene w/Latifah where he questions why God made him like this. That scene is touching, to the movie’s credit – followed by her singing Fix Me, Jesus.
  4. THERE’S the Queen – It takes a long time (somewhat understandably) to see the Queen Latifah we’re used to. After an hour of maintaining her ‘holier-than-thou’ routine, she finally starts playing the dozens on Parton when she confronts her at work, which gave me the personality I recognize and enjoy. Sometime later, after what seems like an eternity of Keke Palmer snapping and complaining and calling her mother out of her name, Latifah FINALLY smacks Palmer. Now I don’t say that in a “wooo violence!” kind of way. Let’s just say Palmer’s character was terribly annoying when she got to her angry teenager part of her development. That slap scene was long-awaited and 30 minutes too late.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

  1. Pop Songs in Church – I don’t get it? Okay, here’s the deal. A gospel choir appearing behind a Michael Jackson song, for example, on one of his concerts is a fantastic feature that kicks things up a notch. I am a fan of what this adds. But a church choir, of any genre, singing secular/pop songs in church is not what they are for when it comes to the Sunday morning gig. The church choir’s main purpose is to use music as a ministry tool for God’s messages. Man in the Mirror is a great song, but it’s not a message people come to hear about God’s Word. I’m not against non-traditional styles in a church by any means, but it has to be used for reasons that make sense and do the job of attracting people to listen because of the sound, but leave with the message. Sadly, that isn’t paid attention to here. (See more in my final point.)
  2. The Random Subplot – so two of the choir members randomly (and I mean, randomly) hook up in front of the church, and their lovemaking literally kills the man. Then we cut to his funeral and they try to play it off as a dark joke. This comes remains a subplot later on, but everything I just described happens within 60 seconds – it’s really quick. WHAT’S THE POINT?! Most random, stupid thing ever. It’s not funny, and it’s totally worthless. Them hooking up so suddenly might have been funny on its’ own without the abrupt death joke. Now the joke is whenever men get with this woman, they “tap it and die.” Great. Next.
  3. Kirk Franklin – Kirk Franklin is a fantastic, amazing gospel artist who’s been around since the 90s, and he’s one of the biggest voices in gospel music. He’s also appeared in movies/TV acting as something similar to what he does in real life, because he’s a pretty game guy. In this movie, he cameos as the leader of the dynamic choir who keeps beating Latifah’s choir. I love seeing him here, but it seriously feels like they could have used anybody, and therefore wasted his time. Here’s my theory: They saw Kirk performing somewhere, showed up with cameras, lied to him about what they were really doing, shot the movie around him, and then announced him as another character. Kirk saw it and said “I could be mad and sue…but hopefully someone will see my song and get a the ministry out of it that I intended.” Which is nice. Then he watched the rest of the movie and was like “…oh. They said I cheated. That ain’t cool.”
  4. Dragging – There are plenty of scenes & moments that do drag. And when they drag, they drag pretty hard. A song or two definitely do this (There’s NO reason why we have to watch a full song by their competition in the finals). And then, after a few predictable scenes you saw coming, someone cusses just to ‘throw you off.’ Okay.
  5. Olivia – Keke Palmer did a fine job acting in this movie, and has already proven herself as an actress. I also am pretty much convinced that the chemistry between her and Latifah & Parton was good. HOWEVER. I HATE HER CHARACTER. When she learns the truth about her father leaving, she starts moping & doping around, acting disrespectfully bitter, and it’s not just hard to watch – it’s dreadfully annoying. I wish this role was played by an actress I didn’t care about so I didn’t feel as bad since I like Keke Palmer. I wonder what the Love Don’t Cost a Thing chick is up to…
  6. The Finals Song – Okay. Remember in Drumline (not saying it’s a good movie, just hear me out), Orlando Jones’ character was extremely pro-traditional style and Nick Cannon’s character was extremely new style? In the end, they both had to learn to meet in the middle in some way, which resulted in a better payoff. This is the better way to go for movies like that. I’m not a fan of movies that bring in this kind of story and end with conforming completely to one style, and I’ll tell you why. The movie basically said “Yeah, the traditional way of music making/praising God is great, but screw that, we want to win and capture people’s attention, so let’s go TOTALLY new!” Here are the problems with that:
    1. There is NO Middle Ground. They don’t even try to meet halfway. They basically condone the older style (from which the influence came) as the less popular idea. This movie is clearly going for what’s popular, and that’s pop music w/choreography.
    2. The Message of Ministry Gets Lost. A church choir singing over beats of a more modern is not the end of the world, and it can be used to get a younger audience to listen. But there has to be more to it than that. This music is supposed to be about something – in this case, God’s message, or people praising Him. This was tossed aside during the finals song for an ‘exciting, hip sound’. So what’s the takeaway? Not what we started with.
    3. The Song Has NO Substance. It really…really feels like this song was only put here to out-do something like the competition scene of Sister Act 2. Latifah starts it off by saying “can we take God higher?” but then the song has no substance in terms of being about anything. It’s just a bunch of people singing loudly, bright lights, snappy dance moves, and a lot of excited people on stage because they’re singing and dancing like they’re in Glee. My point? This is now no longer using music as an expression of something, but rather using it as a gimmick. This misses the point entirely.

Queen Latifah’s Top 3 Momma Metaphors:

  1. There’s always free cheese in the mousetrap. But trust me, the mice ain’t happy.
  2. You’re a fault zone! Anyone who gets too close to you is gonna have rocks falling on them too!
  3. When someone doesn’t fit into a box, you don’t try to shove them in w/everybody else. You build a bigger box!

CONCLUSION:

This movie goes from decent to okay to kind of slow & predictable to terribly insulting to art. Everyone looks like they were having a nice time, the music itself was given actual effort by the performers, and I did enjoy the Walter stuff, which really was the best material. (Why couldn’t we just get a movie based around him?) But the biggest issue really is the value placed on the music and its’ purpose. By the end, no one in this movie, even the pastor, shows that they care about why they’re singing, just that they want to win by any means necessary; even if it means conforming to a style that wouldn’t be bad if they remembered to include some actual substance/message. And the people who DID care about more than winning are eventually won over. Sadly, this movie doesn’t make a Joyful Noise – it just makes NOISE.

BLACKOMETER: 4/10

Let me know what you think!

-BB2