Hello Happy Valley!
For my next entry regarding Mormon movies, I’ve chosen to go back to 2003 and talk about Halestorm Entertainment’s The RM.
Why, you may ask, didn’t I choose to cover The Singles Ward? It did come out earlier.
Well, first off, it’s very rude to ask questions in the middle of my review, please stop that. And second, personally, I felt that The RM simply struck a better chord with me.
Here’s the sitch (because I’m way too busy to fully write out “situation” crap you tricked me!). Anyway, I got off my mission in 1999 and I was still living in singles wards myself when both movies came out. So yeah, they both kinda spoke to what was going on in my life at that time.
But here’s the thing. I like movies that have stories that can reach the largest audience possible. Now, depending on the kind of story you want to tell, there’s only so much you can do to broaden your target audience. But it’s still one thing that my stupid brain is sensitive to.
I’ll explain more about why this matters in a little bit.
First — well, next anyway — the synopsis:
The movie follows one Jared Phelps (Kirby Heyborne) as he gets off his mission, fully expecting to reap the rewards that two years in the Lord’s service brings. And his blessings are as follows:
[Warning! Minor spoilers! But seriously, the movie’s been out for eight years now]
- Nobody shows up at the airport to pick him up.
- He gets to his parents house to find that his family has moved.
- He goes to propose to his girlfriend and finds she’s engaged to a vacuum.
- His car has been sold.
- His application to BYU is rejected.
- The job he was promised no longer exists.
- And cetera.
See what I mean? Blessings!
Things don’t go right for Jared until they do.
The story isn’t particularly deep and the characters are more caricature and one-liner, but overall it still appealed to me a bit more than The Singles Ward. I’m not knocking it. That’s just how it is.
The Singles Ward relied heavily on humor regarding singles ward culture. The RM broadened it out to LDS culture in general–more specifically, Utah LDS culture. Still limited, but not quite as much.
Moreover, what I think both of these movies did that helped LDS cinema is that it showed that, yes, we as a culture and church have many things that are important to us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t poke fun at ourselves.
The reason I think this is so important is that one of the stereotypes that the world likes to use when portraying a person or group of people they perceive as being unusually religious is to portray them as humorless and judgemental. It’s easy shorthand but it can also be lazy and off-puting.
For example, as much as I love The Office, the one character most strongly identified with religion, Angela, is portrayed as a judgemental, strict, humorless stick-in-the-mud. (We could also go on regarding hypocricy, but that’s another article entirely.)
In contrast, one of the many many reasons that I loved President Hinckley (still do) was that he had no problem with laughing from the pulpit. He didn’t do a routine, and he never let levity get in the way of worship, but he was okay telling humorous stories. He liked to laugh.
That may not have been what Halestorm Entertainment had in mind when they made their movies, but intentional or not, that’s what they did.
The RM is rated PG for a few mild situational pieces.