Sunday, October 11, 2009


I had started out calling my feature on trailers for upcoming movies “TRAILER TRASH” because… well, it’s the most obvious name there is, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s so stinking obvious that a few other blogs are already using it. So we’re switching to “THINGS TO COME” instead, which has a much more cozy eschatological feel better suited to this blog anyway. And since the title has a nice, new churchy ring to it, the first trailer should as well. Here’s the trailer for the upcoming documentary from newbie director Peter Rodger, Oh My God, which seems to be getting one of those “end-of-the-year limited release just in time for awards consideration” type of things.

I would really love for this movie to turn out to be a true exploration of the different teachings on God around the world and how people internalize them and live them out. Unfortunately, a few things in the trailer and that I’ve found around the Internet seem to indicate that’s not the direction this documantary takes.

  1. I like Hugh Jackman, especially his story about how his adopted son hits on girls with the opening line “Hey, my dad's Wolverine.” And I also understand that lots and lots of other people like Hugh Jackman, so it’s good marketing to feature him in your movie. And a small, but notable chunk of the people involved in this are part of the Australian film industry, so Jackson obviously made himself available to help out his countrymen. But man oh man, for a film about exploring the idea of God around the globe, this trailer is pretty darn top heavy with Hugh Jackman.
  2. The marketing materials for the film on Rotten Tomatoes contain this paragraph: “Rodger's quest takes him from the United States to Africa, from the Middle East to the Far East, where such fundamental issues as: Did God create man or did man create God?, "Is there one God for all religions? and If God exists, why does he allow so much suffering? are explored in candid discussions with the various Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and even atheists the filmmaker meets along the way.” That’s fine on a cursory viewing, but did you spot it? Yep, it’s the old canard of separating Catholics from Christians. Never a good sign that the filmmaker understands his subject matter.
  3. Take a look at the complete cast list submitted to IMDB. While the aforementioned P.R. materials appear to guarantee that adherents from all of the major religions are represented, there are precious few listed who would appear to have any real teaching authority. I spot Yitzchok Adlerstein, a well known Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, and Tim LaHaye, Protestant minister and author of the Left Behind series. That’s all Rodger could come up with in his three year track across the globe maing this movie? Where are the bishops, the mullahs, the bhikkus, the swamis? Cripes, where’s Oprah!?! I understand that the director has stated that his movie “is not about religion and the tribes in which people eke out their lives (no condescension there at all, huh?); the film is about what God means to people.” But the fact is, while I appreciate hearing the opinions of the common man and woman in the street (as well as some Hollywood folk, a world famous magician, and a few international recording stars, including an ex-Beatle), with all due respect, it seems a vacuous exercise without having the actual teachings of the various religions to hold those opinions up to for perspective. I’m sorry if I’m being a jerk, but how is 90 minutes of subjective claptrap going to contribute anything of value to understanding how the idea of God shapes the world?

All that being said, keep in mind this is just a trailer. My initial reactions to it may end up being hastily formed and completely unfounded. Oh My God could well end up being an inspirational work of sublime genius. And even if it doesn’t reach those heights, I have to admit I do appreciate the (assuredly unintentional) hilarity of the fact that the only really angry person in the trailer appears to be the atheist. But for right now, based solely on the preview, I’m just not feeling any excitement at the thought of watching Oh My God. What about you guys?


Scott W. said...

All that being said, keep in mind this is just a trailer.

In the words of Karl Malden in Patton, "I can read a map." That is, even money says that if this isn't the St. Joseph children's aspirin version of Religulous (longer odds of that I'll grant), it will be the there-are-so-many-different-views-of-God-therefore-none-can-be-completely-true-so-let's-default-to-generalized-hamfisted-appeals-to-brotherly-love.

Favorite quote: "As soon as somebody tells you who God is, mistrust them!" in which the only reason you are not face-palming at this dogmatic statement against dogmatism is that you are busy guffawing.

Sorry to suger-coat it.

Rick said...

It affirms that we are wired for God or as St. Augustine puts it, "Our hearts are restless until they rest on Thee my Lord." Apparently, this movie articulates this internal compass in all human persons. The possibility of it turning around to hold that man conceived God may be self contradictory given the universality of the experience. Someone may conceive the superiority of the Arian race but that clearly is not universally expressed and hence not an internal sensation of truth.

Anonymous said...

I’m sorry if I’m being a jerk, but how is 90 minutes of subjective claptrap going to contribute anything of value to understanding how the idea of God shapes the world?

Your penance for being a jerk: three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys, and an extra large hot fudge sundae. Oh, and make some Ghirardelli brownies for your wife, too.

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

Mmmm, sundaes... Keep handing out penances like that and I might have to reconsider that whole women's ordination thing :)

As for the documentary, I can't help but feel that Scott and I are reading the filmmaker's intentions correctly, but it would be great if Rick's point about the "human compass" shines through regardless.

Anonymous said...

You really should go see the film. It might open your eyes a bit.

The filmmaker.

Scott W. said...

You really should go see the film. It might open your eyes a bit.

This reminds me a bit of a bumper sticker I saw the other day. I've seen plenty of them in some variation of "open your mind", but this was the first time I had seen, "sit down, shut up, open your mind." Well, points for honesty at least. Modern progressivist thinking has devolved to "agree with me or shut up!" for some time now. To wit: lots of pop-culture ephemera proposes to enlighten us rubes with Some Great Insight That Has Eluded Man For Ages--I'm waiting for the day it's offered on a box of my breakfast cereal. :)