Summarized by Mike Nielsen
Park City Reviewer Likes God's Army
Park City UT Record 8Apr00 A4
By Rick Brough: Record Guest Writer
PARK CITY, UTAH -- In a review of God's Army, guest writer Rick
Brough reacts to the independent film about an LDS elder serving a
mission in Los Angeles. The film is unlikely to have an impact on box
offices outside LDS circles, and like the recent spoofs "Orgazmo" and
"Plan Ten", it does not escape the limits of being an "insider's"
Nevertheless, the movie succeeds in its effort to go beyond a caricature of
missionaries, showing the emotional ups and downs of mission life. In this
regard, the film is objective enough that advocates and opponents of the
church alike will note elements consistent with their views.
The featured missionary, Elder Brandon Allen (Matthew Brown) learns quickly
that missionaries' proselytizing efforts are unpopular. His tough-minded
compansion, Elder Mark Dalton (writer-director Richard Dutcher) brings out
the fact that Allen does not know why he is serving a mission, and much of
the flim's focus is on such matters of faith and doubt.
The script addresses some of the controversies associated with the LDS
world-view. One missionary reads and studies anti-Mormon literature and
consequently doubts his faith. Another is alluded to have been convicted of
child molestation. And a black Edler (DeSean Terry) professes a strong
testimony but does not respond convincingly when faced with questions about
LDS positions on blacks and women. In this regard, the film's major
omission is its avoidance of homosexuality, especially notable because of
the church's recent efforts against California Prop 22.
The film seems sanitized when the missionaries encounter hookers, and the
practical jokes become devolve to weird levels as one missionary snaps a
photos of the other on the toilet. They also have a tasteless fondness for
Brown does well as Elder Allen, illustrating an increasing faith borne from
struggling with doubt. Richard Dutcher's character combines humanity,
bluntness, and wisdom, and as a filmmaker Dutcher creates some good movie
moments, illustrating daily mission life with polite respect. The most
noticeable flaw in the movie is its melodramatic ending, when a major
character is healed of a fatal illness, as though to reassure the audience.