Forgiving the Franklins (DVD)
Written, Directed & Produced by Jay Floyd
Grinning Idiot Entertainment – 2006
Starring Teresa Willis, Robertson Dean, Aviva,
Vince Pavia, Mari Blackwell, and Pop DaSilva as Christ
Reviewed by Bo Young
OK. This one is never going to make it to the malls, which is a shame, because that’s precisely the audience that needs to see this satirical parable of modern fundamentalist self-righteousness. Well…maybe not the audience that needs to see it, but it sure as heck it the audience you’d want to see it, if for only the moment when they ran screaming from the theater, their heads exploding from the sheer sacrilege of it all.
I don’t really know from sacrilege anymore, but I sure as hell know from sacred cows and this movie grinds up every Christian sacred cow and turns them into quarter-pounders with cheese. Think Will and Grace crossed with Six Feet Under. Your basic Sears catalogue suburban family, stiff with their religious piety…suddenly dead. Literally, hit by a truck, only the daughter is (you’ll pardon the expression) left behind. The other three…her deeply frustrated mother, her stiff (and yet somehow humpy) board of a father (who have intercourse without ever opening their eyes) and her big pretty football playing brother (who listens to Gilbert & Sullivan in his car CD player, to give you some idea of the subtlety of the script) wake up in a vast arid plain of the afterworld, a little disoriented, a little confused to see a decidedly third-world looking guy taking an axe to a large wooden crucifix. Like I said…subtlety isn’t one of the strong points of this script, as entertaining as it is.
Anyway, the dark-skinned Jesus, in one of the more delicious visual metaphors, proceeds to remove “bloody apples” from the backsides of the brains of the three undead family members, who quickly find themselves back in the hospital with nary a scratch. Their just-this-side-of-bulimic daughter, who wasn’t hurt as badly in the accident is still limping around on a crutch. Ah metaphor.
The script is a ham-fisted from time to time as if the director and writer were “trying to make a point” and sometimes the jokes seem a little bit like shooting fish in a barrel. That said, there is a hilarious discussion of the pros and cons of teachers having sex with their students around the family dinner table at one point which is no small feat to pull off humorously. Male teachers and football playing students, that is. And again, this story gets a little ham-fisted.
But frankly, if LOGO had real balls, they’d turn this into a regular, ongoing television series. It has a TV sitcom feel. And while it’s a very funny movie that takes predictable turns, they’re fun to watch.
My favorite line is when the mother is talking to her self-righteous fundamentalist (is that redundant?) “best friend” and says, “When you talk about God, you sound like one of those women on the talk shows who’s still in love with the husband that beats them.”
The ending has a twist that I wasn’t so sure I liked that seems like the writers just didn’t know what to do with the characters after a while. But at least the daughter loses her crutches.
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Bo Young is the publisher and editor of White Crane. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his fere and two hair children.