Faith based movies are often presented with a caveat, "this had a tiny budget" or "most the actors were volunteers" or "the writer had to go on a missions trip in the middle of filming" and while most are solid moral tales, they are not unlike watching your child's ballet recital. You smile and hope that nobody falls. That's not the case with Jumping the Broom, there's not a frame in this movie that won't hold up to the best in Hollywood. The cinematography is excellent, the acting superb and the writing is clever yet completely organic. I’m a nerdy, painfully Caucasian, evangelical and I loved this movie, everyone will but… will they come? I'm not going to review the movie. Instead, I'm going to review the audience.
This movie has a built-in sweet spot, 20-50 year old black women, and I suspect they will show up in droves. They will laugh hard, cry harder and most will leave the theatre better for it, but will the white people of faith come? Urban faith movies have a huge problem, they are just too real for white evangelicals. The opening scene of this movie has a woman (gasp) in her bra. It only gets more scandalous from there, she's apparently just had (double gasp) pre-marital sex. Never mind the fact that you hear her inner voice, talking to God, asking for forgiveness and promising to save her "cookies" for the man God wants for her. There's some playful innuendo along the way, there's a character who almost swears, there's one who smokes, and one who I doubt actually tithes. Some will say they have tried too hard to be edgy and relevant. This is not the case, rather, they've gone the extra mile to represent actual REAL people.
Ever walk through the mall? Victoria is not keeping much a secret these days. Those flannel graphs in Sunday school of David and Goliath sure made David seem like a swell guy but when you actually read the Bible, the story is, well, messy. At one point in the movie the lead actress tells her fiancé that she just can't go through with it, "it's just too messy." Maybe that's the problem here. Does the white church want the flannel graph version of adult life? That seems like a great message for the choir but what about the hurting people outside the church, you know, the people Jesus hung out with, what about them? That flannel graph does not come close to representing their reality, a reality filled with divorce, heartache, despair and a world often devoid of hope. Where are their movies?
Jumping the Broom has something relatable for everyone. Been married? Been to a wedding? Had a family secret? Got in-laws? Like to laugh? Those are universal themes and while the movie is often hysterical, it's ultimately a tale about the pursuit of morality, and yes, it's messy, but this is our mess and it's our chance to show the world we are ready to present faith in a real, relatable way. The movie opens May 6th, I'll be there with my wife and mother-in-law as I can't imagine a more appropriate way to celebrate Mother's Day (I'll send flowers too.)
I'd love to hear your feedback, please comment below and take the poll on the side.
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