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“Faith Based” Pokes Fun At A Very Unique Film Genre

Apologies if this offends anyone, but faith based films almost exclusively are terrible. In fact, they’re ripe for parody. After all, movies made on the cheap, appealing to an audience that only cares about quality in the broadest sense of the word, and can almost be assured of turning a profit, are easy targets. The upcoming film Faith Based takes a comedy and satirical look at what would happen if a couple of regular guys, on the hunt for a quick buck, opted to make one themselves. The premise has a lot of potential, which luckily for audiences, leads to a charming flick with more on its mind than simply having a laugh at this inherently silly genre.

The movie is, as mentioned, a comedy, centering on two fairly dim-witted friends. Luke (Luke Barnett) and Tanner (Tanner Thomason) are buds who love cinema, aren’t the smartest, and need to make some money. One day, after Luke has disappointed his adopted father Pastor Mike (Lance Reddick) yet again, he has an idea. Christian films are big business in the movie industry these days, something his dad even pointed out. What if Luke and Tanner made one? Moreover, what if they made the best one ever? This quixotic idea is initially scoffed at by everyone, but driven by the words of wisdom by an entrepreneurial guru named Nicki Steele (Jason Alexander), Tanner persists. A little luck gets them a meeting with a faith based distributor, which offers to buy their work if they can make it at a certain price point, as well as get a born again B or C list star. As the production comes together, they target former action star Butch Savage (David Koechner) for the role of God. The rest deserves to be seen in context, but it all concludes in a fun and even touching manner. Vincent Masciale directs a script that Barnett penned, with music by Dustin Morgan, as well as cinematography by Will Stone. Supporting players include Margaret Cho, Carly Craig, Chris Marquette, Richard Riehle, Marlon Young, and more.

It may come as a surprise, but even though this is a satire, the fun being poked by director Vincent Masciale and writer Luke Barnett is fairly gentle. As much of the humor comes from the overall situations that the guys wind up in, as well as the joking remarks made to one another. When it comes to the actual faith based cinema, one can argue that it even gets off easily. That won’t stop fans of the genre and conservative outlets from attacking this as blasphemous and/or disrespectful, but it’ll be way off base. Then again, a little controversy never hurt in drumming up business for an independent flick, so in a roundabout way, those detractors will be more helpful than any positive review I can give. Luckily for the filmmakers here, they wind up with both.

Faith Based is at its best when it’s leaning into the fun that must come along with making a movie. The ragtag group is, as is required by the plot, to be in over their heads. However, the good nature that they all display, even when engaging in bad behavior, helps to set this one apart. Rarely do satirical comedies have this pure of a heart. Barnett and Masciale have a game cast ready to go all in on their premise. Barnett has one of the central roles (alongside Tanner Thomason), but it’s hard not to watch supporting players like Jason Alexander, Margaret Cho, David Koechner, or Lance Reddick having such a blast and not have some of the fun rub off on you.

After having debuted at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Faith Based would normally be continuing the festival circuit right now, leading up to a release. However, all of that is on hold, obviously. Regardless, the movie is quite good and well worth keeping an eye out for. Especially if you know your cinematic references, there’s a solid amount of fun to be had here. Don’t sleep on this indie, once it comes your way, hopefully later on this year…

Be sure to check out Faith Based when it eventually makes its way to theaters!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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