Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Christina DeMarco, Greg Robbins, Laura Romeo, Hugh McLean, Lauren Bayer, Peter Kent
Written and Directed by Greg Robbins
What Would Jesus Do? Go see a better movie.
I told three of my friends and co-workers, all regular churchgoers, about the details of this film after I saw it, wanting to gauge their reaction. One just rolled his eyes and shook his head. Another reacted with a sort of bemused disdain, laughing at how stupid it sounded while being slightly appalled by the misguided message; she initially thought I was even making it all up until I showed her the trailer. The third, a self-avowed Southern Baptist Republican, was the most offended by what I described, quite vocal in his opposition to fundamentalist propaganda like this because to him it gives all Christians a bad name by leading many to believe that all people of faith share the same narrow worldview.
There’s certainly a market for a movie like C Me Dance. Just not in South Mississippi where I live, it would seem – only me and the Lord were in that theater opening night and I think the Lord snuck out to slip into the Fast & Furious theater at some point. The Dove Foundation gave C Me Dance a score of 4/5. How bad must a faith-based film be to garner a negative score from the Dove Foundation? Are there no Christian Razzies?
C Me Dance was written by, directed by, produced by, and co-stars “Pastor” Greg Robbins. What Robbins doesn’t appear to understand about the craft of quality filmmaking could probably fill another Bible. All one need do is glimpse the trailers for other recent Christian cinematic offerings like Fireproof, Thr3e, House, and The Omega Code movies, and you can immediately discern those films were at the very least made by people with some degree of competency behind a camera. Looking like a Trinity Broadcasting after school special from the Eighties, Robbins’ movie is shot with less professionalism than your average Latter Day Saints PSA. How he finagled his film into a theatrical release is beyond me.
Robbin’s greatest sin, however, is screenwriting. Nobody, and I mean nobody, in this movie talks like a real human being. I don’t know how good Pastor Robbins is at the pulpit when he’s proselytizing, but I can assure you he does not know how to write dialogue to save his soul. All he seems to comprehend about the art of storytelling is heavy-handed symbolism and hammy sermonizing.
In all fairness, it’s not just faith-based films that have lost the art of subtlety interweaving underlying messages into the drama. Look at most recent mainstream Hollywood movies about global warming, the war in Iraq, etc., that deliver their sanctimonious messages with the finesse of blunt force trauma. C Me Dance doesn’t just wear its message on its sleeves, it’s wearing a berka.
One moment Sheri chides dad about the futility of faith and prayer in light of her condition, and two scenes later she’s racing dad out the door to get to church on time. Satan first appears with red contact lenses, then later with no contact lenses, and finally with white contact lenses. If only continuity were considered a sin.
As for the cast, let’s just say there’s a reason this movie isn’t titled C Me Act and move on.
Despite some promotion pitching C Me Dance as having an element of horror to its tale, what little intended terror there is proves far more miniscule than initially believed, though there still remain a few elements of a horror movie, which I’ll get to momentarily.
Seventeen-year-old Sheri “just wants to dance and hang out.” Her dreams of being a ballerina are dashed when she is diagnosed with terminal leukemia. She’ll suffer no hair loss, no energy loss, no physical wasting away; she’ll continue to look and act like the cute bubbly Jamie-Lynn Sigler look-a-like with anime eyes she was before being given a medical death sentence. She truly becomes blessed when the Holy Spirit – appearing in the form of a blinding bright light in the dining room chandelier – anoints her with the power to convert non-believers to Christianity with a single touch. As her dad puts it, “Man, this is gonna tick off the devil.”
Indeed. Lucifer’s first insinuation into Sheri’s life is doing what he was most well known for in the Bible: heavy breathing crank phone calls. Dad immediately knows this is the devil on the phone; could just as easily have been Darth Vader.
Satan physically manifests as some dude clad in a black trench coat because the devil knows Sheri watched a movie she wasn’t supposed to years ago that caused her to develop a phobia of men in black trench coats. The Matrix? Underworld? Say Anything?
We’re told the only powers the devil truly possesses are the abilities to trick you, deceive you, and scare you. Coincidentally, also three tactics commonly employed by many politicians and televangelists.
Satan’s big comeuppance consists of Sheri telling him “You are such a loser” and then evil incarnate gets left in the dust as Sheri speeds off on the back of a motorcycle driven by ex-pro wrestler Nikita Koloff. A more satisfying requital would have been to have Koloff get off the bike and floor Satan with the Russian Sickle.
Before scolding the devil, but after an all-out brawl with violent school bullies – a subplot introduced without a smidgen of set-up, dad takes Sheri to their local minister and tells him what’s going on. Not only does this man immediately accept everything he’s being told as 100% truth, he cannot wait to begin using this girl’s power to convert everyone whether they want to be or not. “Every day God’s creation is going to hell and it’s really starting to piss me off,” this man of God angrily states (always nice to have a preacher at the pulpit with a chip on his shoulder walking around thinking the world is such a terrible place, if only someone would come along and smite it) just before laying out a plan for her to go to a local “secular” rock concert to use her powers on the heathens attending. Dad thinks this is a great plan and Sheri, clearly portrayed as an easily manipulated doe-eyed innocent, also thinks this all sounds positively neat-o.
This movie gets so militant with this conceit the minister even has her standing in front of his own congregation using her powers on life-long churchgoers sitting in the pews that just aren’t true enough believers. Within days we’re told the rates of local murders, rapes, and kidnappings have gone down at an astronomical rate, Hollywood has begun shelving movies that don’t portray acceptable family values, and the porn industry is shutting down as ex-smut peddlers begin devoting their efforts to helping those they’ve harmed spreading their filth. The ultimate goal is to get Sheri simulcast on every major television network at once so that she can telepathically gang-save millions in a single broadcast. And if anyone dares to object or stand in their way, all she has to do is touch them and they’re instantly transformed into a Stepford Christian.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a horror movie, just one with a great big smile on its face that doesn’t realize what it truly is. C Me Dance is exactly like all those body-snatching horror movies we’ve seen where someone gets taken over by an evil presence that can infect and impose its evil into anyone it comes into contact with. Sure, it’s the power of Christ this time around, but that doesn’t make it any less sinister in its affront to the very notion of free will. I’m sure many of like mind watching will think what’s portrayed on the screen is awesome, but for those of us that don’t live in a bubble, it’s obvious what’s being preached is as misguided as it is ridiculous. None of these people are coming to find Christ on their own; they’re not doing so as a decision based out of a deeply held belief or longing; none of these are honest heartfelt conversions. These people are being manipulated via supernatural mind control. She touches them or uses some psychic power to get into their head and – bam – they’re instantly born again. People are going to be filled with the Lord’s grace; yeah, but not by their own admission, not by their own choosing. Probably fruitless to even argue as much since we all know free will and individual thought are not exactly popular concepts amongst fundamentalists of any particular religious persuasion. As bad a rap as Christians tend to get, often undeservedly, negatively stereotyping them as simple-minded drones incapable of thinking for themselves, here is a movie that actually embraces that hive mindset and hails it as a great thing. If ever there was a motion picture for which the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” applied – by God, this is it.
It clearly never crosses the mind of the Pastor Robbinses of the world that there might actually be people out there that don’t share their beliefs or practice other faiths or even do subscribe to many of their same tenets but not to the same degree living happy, fulfilled lives, and the reason they don’t agree with you is not because they’re scared or stubborn or under demonic influence; it’s because they have a mind of their own and have come to believe differently. This movie will have none of that because it exists in a vacuum of us vs. them and all of “them” (i.e., us) have to be either converted or treated as a mortal enemy.
Sheri’s climactic world-changing sermon, written and delivered with all the eloquence of a third grader’s Sunday school essay, actually has the hypocritical nerve to conclude by telling us how in the end we all have a major choice to make about the way we spend eternity, the height of irony given the power she wields and the way she and those around her have chosen to use it has eliminated any choice in the matter.
I’d have been all the more offended and horrified by the mentality of this gleefully inane piece of fundamentalist Christian propaganda if I hadn’t been laughing so hard. As naive as it is earnest, as deluded as it is convinced of its own piety, the lunacy of its tale is enough to make you think it was parody if you didn’t know the filmmakers were totally sincere. Believe me when I tell you there is so much more I could go on about. I’m just going to stop here and summarize C Me Dance with two simple words:
2 out of 5
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