Judge Dave Ryan asks that you not take the name of this film in vain.
Oh, title of this film!
Why do we view "average" as a bad thing these days? Something of "average" quality is just fine, really—there are better things out there, and there are worse things. An average student isn't dumb. An average car still gets you to where you're going. So why do I feel so guilty calling For Christ's Sake an average film?
Facts of the Case
Father Robert (Jed Rees, Galaxy Quest) is the new pastor of a church somewhere in southern California. His ne'er-do-well brother Alan (Will Sasso, Mad TV) shows up one day, claiming to need $50,000 for cancer treatment. Robert gives him the money out of the church's emergency fund, with Alan thanking him profusely and promising to pay him back by the end of the year.
When the end of the year comes without repayment (or really any sort of contact from Alan), Robert decides to pay a visit to his brother in Los Angeles. When he arrives, he discovers that "cancer" apparently equals "production of a porn film starring Candy (Sara Rue, Less Than Perfect), the hottest new act in town." With his parishioners expecting enough money in the till to hire John Schneider (John Schneider, The Dukes of Hazzard) to perform at the church picnic, Robert has to decide whether hard economic reality outweighs his spiritual obligation to stop immorality in its tracks.
Remember the old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney films where something bad would happen, and everyone would wind up getting together and putting on a show in the old barn to fix it all? For Christ's Sake is that show. Not literally, of course…but that's the vibe this film gives off. A bunch of friends, a couple of cameras, a weekend in the Valley, and a good time was had by all. Unfortunately, that's also what's wrong with For Christ's Sake—it doesn't really feel like a MOTION PICTURE (capital letters, backlit marquee, runners around the edges). To be frank, it "feels" like one of those straight-to-video hack jobs you see late at night on Showtime or Cinemax.
That's a shame, because this isn't nearly as disposable a film as those cheesefests. It's not a great film, but it does get a good amount of decent laughs from its more-than-capable cast, director, and writer. There are a lot of recognizable faces here. Lead actor Jed Rees isn't a household name, but if you're a Galaxy Quest fan—and if you aren't, WHY NOT????—you'll probably recognize him instantly. (He was also a regular on the late, great Chris Isaak Show). From the late, semi-great Mad TV, we have Will Sasso and Alex Borstein. Director Jackson Douglas (Gilmore Girls' Jackson "husband of Sookie" Melville/Belleville) is a Mad TV vet as well, and is also Borstein's husband. Michael Hitchcock is a veteran of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries. Sara Rue has been in…well, a little of everything over the years. (Including, of course, Mad TV). Finally, we've got Quark (Armin Shimerman) and Blank Reg (William Morgan Sheppard) in tiny roles. Toss in Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week), Chad Willet (Jack and Jill), and Jason Barry (MirrorMask), and you've got an experienced ensemble that should be capable of great things. But the whole never quite adds up to the sum of its parts. The script is fine; the acting is solid; the direction is competent. But that's all there is here: a competently-executed piece of filmmaking. Nothing special, just a decent film. You'll probably enjoy the hour and a half spent with For Christ's Sake, but it won't stick in your memory, and you'll probably never revisit it again.
From a technical standpoint, this DVD release is—you guessed it—pretty average. The stereo Dolby soundtrack is unspectacular, but has no significant flaws to speak of. Picture quality is actually quite good—for an indie that lacks big-studio money behind it, this is darn fine transfer job. Outside of a production photo gallery, which is mainly the cast hamming things up between takes, and a theatrical trailer, there aren't any extras to speak of. And, in case you were wondering, the case is made of a perfectly average plastic…
For Christ's Sake is not a bad film. It's just not a great film, and leaves you thinking that maybe it could have been better. That doesn't mean it's not entertaining. It's just not particularly memorable. Average isn't bad, it's just average. It's just that I wanted to like this film more, and couldn't.
Sentenced to ten Hail Marys and five Our Fathers.
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