Monday, April 21, 2008

What Would Jesus Buy? DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Super-Size Jesus

This tongue-in-cheek documentary questions the degree to which America has commercialized Christmas. The film features Reverend Billy Talen, a colorful character who travels across the country accompanied by the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, confronting frantic shoppers in malls right at the height of the holiday season.
Declaring Mickey Mouse the anti-Christ, this flamboyant man of the cloth mounts a soap box to inform anybody who’ll listen that “The Disney Company still presides over sweatshops all around the world.” He conducts impromptu man on the street interviews, asking folks to have a conscience about their purchases.
Unfortunately, his passionate pleas fall mostly on deaf ears and do little to discourage the determined consumers he encounters, despite his dire warning of the coming Shopocalypse. Instead, he’s mostly treated as a nuisance by mall security and local police who routinely either arrest him or escort him off the premises.
Nonetheless, the movie does drive home a powerful point, namely, that Christmas has lost most of its religious significance and come to revolve around gift-giving. Pointing out that most Christians spend more time worshipping retail items in malls than Jesus in church, he challenges believers to find something more meaningful to do than shopping.
He’s supported in this endeavor by several experts, including Harvard Professor Dr. Alvin Poussaint who laments how since birth we’ve been “conditioned to associate material goods with the symbol of love.” Ditto Reverend Andrew Young who makes a cameo appearance in which he reminds us of Christ’s teaching to “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick.”
But the real star of this show is the irrepressible Reverend Billy who is as hilarious as he is thought-provoking, and thus apt to keep you in stitches as you contemplate spiritual alternatives to material satisfaction. Merry Capitalism!

Excellent (4 stars)
PG for mature themes and mild epithets.
Running time: 91 minutes
Studio: Arts Alliance America
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, printable lyrics to the choir’s unique Christmas carols, and an 8-minute public access show featuring Reverend Billy and the choir.

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