Fun cast powers a quirky indie comedy
So to watch the story of Father Robert (Jed Rees) unfold, is not entirely pleasing. A man of the cloth whose congregation has shrunk to a bare minimal, Robert is under pressure by his most active church-goers (who want to see him do more to promote the church) and his fellow priest Carl, who is tired of being the low man on the totem pole. Thus, when his absentee brother Alan (Will Sasso) arrives with word that he has cancer, he may not be of the soundest mind, and hands over tens of thousands of dollars from the church emergency fund to help him. Suffice to say, this was a bad idea, as Robert learns when he tracks down Alan in an attempt to get back the money, only to find out he accidentally helped produce a porno film.
Like any story about bad decisions, one leads to another and then another, and Robert finds himself stuck in his brother's world of porn. He needs his brother to make money on the film in order to pay back the church, especially when two of his church members get John Schneider (of Dukes of Hazzard fame) to agree to an expensive appearance at the church's upcoming festival. He's also become friendly with one of the porn stars named Candy (Sara Rue), who's taken a liking to Robert, despite the fact that he is unobtainable. Looking at her (something that's hard to not do when she's so on display) it's not hard to believe she would be a temptation, but Rees plays it just right as a man who truly believes in his calling, but can't ignore her attractiveness, a facet that only grows for him as she opens herself up to his lessons from the Bible.
The film, written by Jeff Lewis (Vork from The Guild) and directed by Jackson Douglas (Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show), has a quirky sense of humor, populating Robert's world with some peculiar folks, including a pair of Freddie Mercury-loving church-goers (one played by Michael Hitchcock (Waiting for Guffman)) and a hilarious anti-masturbation mom (Alex Borstein), in a series of sketch-like moments at the start. Things only really get going though when Robert enters Alan's world, setting up all sorts of sexual hi-jinks for the good Father to combat, mostly via Candy's advances and questions about God. All these porn shenanigans make for easy laughs, but it's Rees who really earns them, thanks to his expressive face and good-natured persona (which were the same reasons he stole GalaxyQuest.)
Meanwhile, Rue, who seems to have filmed this movie just before her well-publicized weight loss, brings such a bubbly feel to her porn star with a heart of gold that her potentially offensive exchanges with our hero priest come off as nearly adorable (though her direct come-ons are pure sex on a stick, complete with some spectacular nudity that the film initially teased, yet didn't seem prepared to deliver on.) One conversation, where she attempts to justify her porn work and ends up comparing Jesus to a pimp, and Rees' reactions to her, are almost worth the price of admission on their own.
Where the film doesn't work is unfortunately at the end, which really feels like more of a jumping-off point than a climax. The introduction of an interesting, if far-fetched new character and a possible new direction for the plot just leads to a sudden finale that's not satisfying enough. The set-up in the beginning and the interactions between Robert and Candy could probably be trimmed to bring this moment a bit earlier, and give the audience a look at what happens next, which seemed like a definite opportunity for more laughs and the chance to tie up a big loose end in Robert's motivations. Considering how well the rest of the set-ups in the film worked, this just left the movie feeling a bit incomplete.
Presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, the movie sounds good for the most part, though there are moments where there are shifts in the sound, and echoing that sounds like dialogue was recorded in a closet. Aside from those occasional flaws, the film offers a balanced, center-focused presentation, and the score and soundtrack are mixed well with the dialogue, creating a mostly distortion-free listening experience..
The Bottom Line