Saturday, April 30, 2016
Meet The Mormons (2014)
I found this movie in the DVD section in my local library and frankly went "Eh, why not? This could be interesting." With that said however, I want to be made very clear about the contents to this review. I am a Christian who believes that Mormonism is not a form of Christianity like some Mormons claim it to be. But at the same time, I want to try to understand Mormonism despite how hard it is to do so even after reading my own copy of the Book of Mormon (I bumped into a couple of Mormon missionaries in my neighborhood a couple years back and after a small discussion I agreed to take one of their books and take a look at it). So when I borrowed this film from the library, I did so out of hope for getting a slightly better understanding of Mormons and their beliefs and (judging from the cover) get a good idea of how it impacts people globally. Bottom line, I'm reviewing this movie as a documentary and NOT as a means to attack Mormonism.
The movie focuses on the lives of six individuals. A Mormon bishop in Atlantic Georgia named Jermaine, the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy named Ken, a MMA fighter from Costa Rica named Carolina, the country director for Choice Humanitarian in Nepal, Bishnu, Gail Halvorsen a.k.a. The Candy Bomber, and a missionary's mother named Dawn. Every person in that order basically talk about their lives and what they do and only occasionally discuss their beliefs. And sadly, that's about it.The film contributes nothing that we may not have already known about Mormonism in the long run. For the most part, it's just showing how wonderful life is for these six specific Mormons and their friends and family. For this reason, a lot of critics - and I have to agree, see this movie as nothing but propaganda more than it is an actual documentary that tackles a subject. And it's a real shame because the movie starts out making you believe that it will talk about some controversial matters about Mormonism. It starts off with a woman addressing the fact that a lot of people don't really understand what it means to be Mormon and then interviews people in New York asking about what they know about Mormonism and most of their answers have to do with the controversial subjects such as having multiple wives or Mormonism's attitude towards black people. So I automatically believed that it will discuss a little bit about those specific subjects about Mormonism while they are showing us the lives of these six individual Mormons. But instead of tackling any of it, it just shows how wonderful the lies are for these six people thus making it come off an nothing more than propaganda. When they do talk about their beliefs, they only talk about things that are from the Bible and nothing about what is in the Book of Mormon. So they make it appear that Mormonism is a form of Christianity without explaining how the Bible is in any way connected to the Book of Mormon.
The producer of the film did see the criticism that was made when the film came out and said "Most reviewers wanted the movie to be controversial, but we wanted to tell stories about those who make up our base." Now if this is what they really wanted to make and this is something they are happy with, good for them. Unfortunately, that does nothing to help the strength of the movie or help people be in anyway interested in Mormonism. What I understand from Mormonism apart from what I understand from the book generally comes from an episode of South Park and at least one song from the musical The Book of Mormon. So when something like this is being made from actual Mormons, I for one wanted to hear a little more about their beliefs. In fact two of the people they're interviewing, Carolina and Bishnu used to be Christians before they became Mormans. Well... okay, care to enlighten me why? All they did was mention how Carolina was raised Catholic and Bishnu became a Christian before a couple of Mormon missionaries came to his town and convinced him to become a Mormon and that's it. I really dislike that they don't go into more detail, because contrary to belief a Christian like me might be a tiny bit interested in how and/or why a fellow brother and/or sister in Jesus would take this particular step in their beliefs. The only part where someone in the film said something that was remotely different than what I believe in is when the football coach, Ken talked about how a Mormon bishop told him that his blessings from God depend on whether or not he can control his temper. But aside from that, it's nothing but the same things I believe in but worded a little differently.
The most interesting part of the movie by far was Gail as The Candy Bomber. His story about how he created the Candy Berlin Drop was amazing. It was really touching what was happening in Berlin at that time and what pilots like him were doing to try to help the people in the city. It was especially touching when Gail talked about this one child who asked him not to not give up and assured him that someday they will pull though. Then to hear him come up with the idea of dropping off candy for children which apparently gave them a lot of hope was great. However not even then, not much was said about his faith as a Mormon apart from claiming that's the Holy Spirit told them to go to meet those kids. Honestly it was interesting as a piece of history rather than something educational about Mormonism or Mormons.
And that's my review for Meet The Mormons. I may have no interest becoming a Mormon in any way whatsoever. But when movies are made by Mormons who are talking about themselves, in some way or another I really want my understanding of their religion to be challenged. I want to be enlightened in some way. I want to see them at least least try to help me understand better what in the world do they truly deeply believe in. But as it is, it's mostly nothing but showing off how great life is for these 6 specific Mormons, make it come out more as propaganda rather than something to be considered as a documentary. The only interesting thing about it is again the story of Gail becoming the Candy Bomber, but even then you could just look him up online and get the same experience of how cool his story is. If you are a Mormon and you just want to see how your religion has impacted other people, you'll get your fill here. But aside from that, this is one documentary that is definitely a skip.