Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dinner With (the Evangelical Protestant) Jesus

Despite the fact that I have a good many quibbles with the theology presented in these films, I couldn't help but like The Perfect Stranger (2005) and its sequel Another Perfect Stranger (2007).    These two independent Christian films are based upon novels by Evangelical Christian writer David Gregory.  I understand that there is a third sequel called The Perfect Gift which I have not yet viewed.

The Perfect Stranger is the story of attorney Niki Cominsky (Pamela Brumley) who is struggling with problems in both her private and professional life.  As an attorney Niki works long hours in a large firm whose partners are cheating clients by over billing.  At home, Niki is faced with a stagnant relationship with her husband and not enough time to spend at home with her 10 year old daughter, Sarah.

Pamela Brumley as Niki Cominsky

Niki is disappointed when her husband would rather go to a baseball game with his friends than spend a romantic evening with her at a posh Chicago restaurant.  When Niki goes to her office she is surprised to find a dinner invitation to the restaurant she wanted to go to.  The invitation is signed "Jesus Christ."  Thinking that she is the victim of a practical joke, Niki goes to the restaurant where she is met by a man in a business suit claiming to be Jesus (Jefferson Moore).  The majority of the film is takes place in the restaurant where Jesus talks with Niki and answers her questions about life and faith.

Jefferson Moore as Jesus Christ

Although as a practicing Catholic I have to quibble with some of the theology presented, over all, the movie was very good.  Even though it primarily involved a dinner table conversation,  the film holds the viewer's attention well.  Niki, who is almost persuaded that Jesus is who he says, is finally convinced when she sees the nail scars in his wrists.  At the end of the film Niki, who up until now was an agnostic, throws herself into the arms of Christ and resolves to become a Christian.  In good Evangelical fashion Jesus leaves Niki with a Bible verse to look up.

The sequel, Another Perfect Stranger, was much more theologically objectionable than the first movie.  It's now ten years later and Niki's daughter, Sarah, who is already an accomplished artist, is seeking admission to a prestigious art institute in Portland, Oregon.   Just before leaving on an airplane flight to Portland,  Sarah (Ruby Marie Lewis) has had a huge fight with her mother and father over religion.  Niki has told Sarah about her dinner with Jesus ten years earlier.  Sarah thinks that her mother is nuts.

Jefferson Moore reprises his role as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Of course, guess who's seated next to Sarah on the airplane, has coffee with her during her layover and is seated next to her again on her connecting flight.  Once again, after a painless theology lesson, Sarah slowly realizes the identity of her new friend and by the end of the film has been "saved.".

Sarah Cominsky (Ruby Marie Lewis) has coffee with Jesus

When Sarah says that she's turned off by religion, Jesus (once again played by Jefferson Moore) says that he doesn't like religion either.  Jesus defines religion as "trying to use ritual to work your way to God" as opposed to having "a personal relationship." These are Evangelical Protestant buzzwords against Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, High Church Anglicanism and other sacramental forms of Christianity.

Nevertheless, both movies are fun to watch and have a nice feel good message about faith in Jesus Christ.  The Bad Catholic gives both films three and a half Bibles.

No comments:

Post a Comment