Review: Jesus, Bro! (2017)

jesus bro

Our Lord and Savior: Walkaway Entertainment

For the uninitiated, MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS is a popular web series of car seat film reviews. Often said screenings are of so-called “faith movies”, which are popular in certain quarters of American Society, and quite baffling to everyone else. JESUS, BRO! is Brad Jones and his regular gang’s first feature, and what else could it be but a spoof faith movie?

The film opens with the firing of the local church Easter Jesus for inappropriate behaviour. Of course witnessing this has an impact on young Rick (Dave Gobble), who makes it his life’s mission to become the world’s leading athiest Youtuber. All that changes when he has a religious epiphany brought about by drinking highly potent craft beer…

Doug Walker’s slimy promoter telling Rick that “Your intolerant and condescending Vlogs are just the kind of thing we’re looking for” and later, “Happy people don’t get the viewership that angry people do” and Rick’s own “I want to see videos that confirm my pre-conceived biases on the world” all sum up the potentially poisonous impact of social media reliance. Being a Youtuber can be extremely lucrative and has helped to get otherwise unknown content creators an audience they never could have reached, but there are just as many drawbacks. Said contributors have been increasingly exploited by larger outlets and advertisers,their revenue streams stoppered, leading to an increasing number asking for funding direct from their subscribers on services like Patreon. This very movie was made possible by fans’ crowdfunding. While watching favourite subscribed video series has brought joy to viewers the world over, discussion of said videos’ subject matter has bafflingly not resulted in an open floor for civilised debate but an increase in hate speech and threatening behaviour when opinions clash, all with the anonymity the internet provides.

As evidenced with his appearances on Midnight Screenings, Dave Gobble gets very angry about things he is passionate about. As perma-grouch Rick he comes out with such acerbic gems as “Why would anybody worship someone who can’t even take a good flogging?” and “Admit it, you hated Jim Caviezel too!”. Allison Pregler as Rick’s “Annoyingly specific” girlfriend stands in for every bad exposition dump ever committed to film, but is also the real heart of the film, finding herself as she does on the sharp end of Rick’s abrasive personality more often than most. Everyone from Jones’ usual team along with crossovers from NOSTALGIA CRITIC are in there somewhere in fun cameos or reprising long-running in-jokes.

If you compare this to the team’s usual output (especially something like CINEMA SNOB) it’s decidedly, and intentionally, un-sweary. The jabs against a particular kind of person can be cutting, but never unnecessarily cruel. It also promotes a far more Christian message than the usual media and entertainment output of the supposed true faithful. It’s a message of understanding, of live and let live, of tolerance.

There’s some very pleasing Pythonesque skits in there, like when Rick’s alcohol-induced religious hallucination breaks down to reveal a cheap soundstage, or proclaiming as an act of faith “I want to take you to a stoning”, or when someone recounts out-of-the-blue “falling down a mine shaft and getting attacked by a cave bear”. It’s a grab-bag of comic styles, but no more jarring or inconsistent than the religous movies being made fun of.

Though it’s parodying a very specific type of American film and the conventions of such, it everything from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and A CHRISTMAS CAROL to TRADING PLACES. Jesus, Bro! is the kind of faith movie the YouTube generation needs; amusing, heartfelt and with all the slightly shambolic fun of a movie made with friends on a shoestring budget. Thank Santa Christ for Jesus, Bro! SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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