Monday, January 6, 2014

I Hate When Mommy Calls Me Jesus

With a poster reminiscent of Orphan and a title deliberately eschewing the rules of punctuation, I(')m Not Jesus(,) Mommy was a streaming indie clearly made for a giddy ol' blogger like me.

Quick Plot: Dr. Kim Gabriel is a fertility expert whose bout with cancer has ironically rendered her unable to conceive her own child with supportive husband. When she's asked by a shady researcher named Roger to help participate in a government experiment bringing the first human cloned embryo to term, Kim finds the temptation of insemination a little too easy to pass up.

Seven years later, the world has changed. A lot.

Whereas in 2013 the U.S. government was using illegal Mexican immigrants as disposable test cases, radio announcements now tell us that any American sneaking over the Mexican border will be shot on sight. Curfews are enforced and food rations are distributed by federal employees. Utopia this is not.

Kim, now widowed, is eking out a miserable survival with her son David. Bundled up for a new ice age and sporting some ominous lesions on her face, Kim begins to sense something amiss when David demonstrates some handy skills with premonition and resurrection. 

Across town, Roger cares for his sister and niece, filling their time and souls with some hard-earned Old Testament wisdom. As anyone who's seen The Rapture might guess, such Abrahamic lessons can steer towards controversy pretty quickly.

Directed and co-written by Vaughn Juares, I'm Not Jesus Mommy is far too ambitious for its own good. Much of its grand theological movements come off as silly, and the very nature of its title makes the third act something of an anticlimactic wash. That being said, the film is kind of fascinating in some of its decisions. The complete second act switch is effectively jarring, leaving the viewer (or at least me) having absolutely no idea where the story will go. Unfortunately, then you remember the film’s title and realize the big mystery is frustratingly revealed without even watching.

High Points
Considering its shoestring budget, I'm Not Jesus Mommy is smart enough to establish its post-apocalyptic setting with some extremely clever and basic decisions. Kim (and actress Bridget McGrath) undergoes a complete make-under, with chapped lips and scraggly brown hair replacing the lip gloss and dye job worn by a successful doctor in a thriving world. It’s surprising how effective such simple choices are

Low Points
Should we talk about the title? I can forgive the absence of a comma that seems to be riling other reviewers (considering it's supposed to be said by a kid, the omission makes sense) but for the first 60 minutes or so, we're not in any way THINKING of Jesus or what he has to do with the story. It's almost a spoiler not just to the ending, but to the very thematic underlining of the film. 

Lessons Learned
Cell phones + angry car rides = certain doom

Just because you're lucky enough to get government sanctioned bread doesn't mean you should be all showy about it

In case of apocalypse, be sure to wear layers

I'm Not Jesus Mommy isn’t really a recommend, but it also seems unfairly maligned with a 2.8 IMDB rating. This is a low budget, highly flawed little movie, but it earns plenty of points for being something different. It tries too hard to do far too much, but the optimist in me appreciates a cheaply made first feature about government sanctioned human cloning causing a rapture. Maybe it’s just because I really love me some raptures. Point is, those who are looking for something new might find it worth checking out on Instant Watch. Know what you’re getting into and tread with caution, but hey: how many other cheaply made first features about government sanctioned human cloning causing a rapture will you watch this week?

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