Robert Amaya was one of the high points from the movies Courageous and Mom’s Night Out, two of my favorite Christian films.  His “snake kings” scene from Courageous makes me laugh every time I see it.

Erin Bethea was in Fireproof alongside the illustrious Kirk Cameron.  Fireproof helped change my life for Christ.  I still cry each time I watch that film.  I am getting a little misty eyed now just thinking about it.

So when I received a copy of Altar Egos, a new Christian movie starring these two veterans of the genre coming to video on September 5, 2017  to review, I was psyched.

Javier Martinez and Catherine Holt together in one movie is just too much to ask for!

I was hoping for some good laughs packaged around a wholesome or overtly Christian message that the whole family could enjoy.

What I got was well, kind of that, kind of something slightly different.  I am not sure it was the movie’s fault though.

On the good side, there were good laughs and the family enjoyed it.

On the bad, they may simply have done too good of a job of presenting a really dysfunctional church at the outset of the movie for me to enjoy what is, at heart, a somewhat slapstick comedy.

Altar Egos aims for being a light and silly movie with dramatic touches.  In the story, Amaya plays the role of a pastor of a struggling church that he took over from his father.  Pastor John is attempting to bring the declining church back to life and himself out of the shadow of his late father.

Unfortunately, he is repeatedly clashing with his widowed stepmother, Mary Margaret in his efforts.  She is the leader of the choir and the dominant force behind the church board.  She holds a significant amount of power in the church and wields it to frustrate the plans of Pastor John.

When Pastor John tries to revamp the yearly Christmas pageant for the church, this appears to be the last straw for Mary Margaret as she revolts, leaves the church and takes the choir with her.

Pastor John responds by enlisting the help of his acting enthusiast son in order to try to relate to her and the church board.  He disguises himself and his son as senior citizens in order to try to win Mary Margaret and the choir back to the church…and hilarity ensues.

Actually, there are funny antics that surround the awkward interaction between the disguised Amaya and his son and the older church goers.  The plot also follows the son and his involvement in a Cyrano DeBergerac production while he pursues a romantic interest in his co-star in the play.  The message of that classic story is cleverly weaved together with the church based events in the movie.  Each character discovers that it is best to just be yourself rather than pretend to be different.

My children all found the movie implausible but funny.  They walked away with very positive impressions of the movie.  The actors all do a good job in their parts and the production value is excellent.

I simply may be the wrong person to enjoy this movie.  As a pastor and one who grieves the condition of the church at large today, the set up for the plot was too painful for me to fully enjoy the comedic aspects.  The resolution of the conflicts involved also never fully dealt with the church problems to any great degree.

In the movie, the church begins the film in terrible shape.  The congregation is disinterested and disrespectful to the idea of church and the pastor.  The board of elders of the church seems lacking in faith and unpleasant. These are meant to be shown in a funny way but just came across sad to me.

The church is presented as dominated by Mary Margeret, her agenda, and strong personality.  She undermines the pastor openly, seems extremely prideful and lords over the men in leadership.  The men are depicted as silly buffoons.

When Mary Margeret’s authority is challenged, she leads a boycott of the church with the choir walking out on the pastor and the congregation.  The plot then revolves around the pastor winning her back to the church without dealing with her actions.  Pastor John eventually apologizes for his unkindness to her and his actions and they reconcile.  Yet, none of the other issues are addressed.

If this were not the true state of many churches today it would be easier to enjoy the silliness.  Seeing the power plays and personalities dominating churches and the leadership struggles that plague the Christian culture, it was just painful for me to watch.  My wife and I have also attended churches while similar man centered dramas were ongoing.  It was terrible to experience.

There are so many churches where the men are disinterested spectators who sit and watch as the women work and lead.  Others where the pastor jumps to satisfy the will of boards that are made up of people who have been at the church the longest, regardless of whether they actually follow Jesus well.  These conditions are destroying churches and pulling down the next generation of believers in the process.

I had a really hard time enjoying the silly scenes that followed because of the too truthful portrayal of a church being destroyed from within.

My children have never gone through any of the situations and therefore just appreciated the humor.

I understand that it was a movie meant to be silly so I just may be the wrong person for the movie.

So on a good note, the children enjoyed the movie and found the antics of Robert Amaya, in particular, silly and funny.

On another good note, the movie presented a very accurate portrayal of an extremely dysfuctional church.  It was actually instructive watching the ugliness of people at work.  If you see your church in the portrayal, be concerned.

On the bad, this viewer had a hard time watching a church being treated like the characters in Altar Egos approached their local Body of Christ.




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