Content Warning: I cannot believe this is necessary for a faith based film but… There is language in the second half of the film (bad a**, sh**, etc etc). Alcohol is prominent and never shown as anything but being socially acceptable in college and at parties.
I just finished watching Believe Me and I am not one hundred percent sure what to think. I guess the best way to start is… from the beginning. Watch the trailer above so you can be on point with what I am talking about. By the way I will try not to spoil anything. The premise of Believe Me is that four college students need/want money for various reasons. They are not Christians but the leading man, Sam (Alex Russell), figures out that Christians will give to any cause that seems to further God’s Kingdom. Essentially exploiting a flaw that Christians have. The idea is a strong one and the trailer plays this off like it will be a comedy, and it is… for the first half. Somewhere in the middle of the film, I felt as if, Believe Me changed from a comedy with dramatic bits to a dramatic film with comedy intertwined. This is fine but I am giving you a heads up now that this is not a through and through comedy. Prior to its release I was stoked. I pre-ordered the Blu-Ray (which I never ever do) based off of Will Bakke’s (director of Believe Me) prior films. I liked how his previous work didn’t mind touching on the subjects that we as Christians never seem to discuss publicly. This new film (based off of trailers) seemed to do that as well but yet it was not a documentary. I decided I could not wait any longer for the film to arrive in the mail so I decided to stream it on Amazon!
First things first, I like how quickly Believe Me gets to the point of what the film is about and still establishes our main characters. Right away I also notice that the acting and cinematography is great. Unfortunately, I don’t like any of the lead characters aside from Baxter (Max Adler). Sam and Pierce (Miles Fisher) are smug, know it all, college guys who are on the brink of graduating. Baxter is the party guy who just does whatever his bros are doing without any questions. Tyler (Siniqua Walls) is the voice of reason but quickly backs down to the peer pressure. All of them decide that to get the money they want, they need to have Christians think they are giving to a charity but in all actuality only twenty percent is for charity. It is quite amusing to see them fake being Christians and it is clear as day that they have no idea what they are doing. The two step brochure made me laugh so hard that I actually rewinded to pause the film on it so I could read it again. Sam even has a segment where he speaks about how Jesus did not LITERALLY walk on water. This made me feel awkward for him as I can not imagine the backlash that would even come from suggesting that. After having a successful “charity” raising campaign at their school, they are recruited by a Christian organization to travel across the country to acquire more funds for their charity. The execution of this idea is good and has promise. However, once the film reaches the midway point, there is a montage of them hitting it big and being very successful. This is where most of the laughs end and the drama kicks up. The second half of the film has a bit of a different feeling, as I felt like none of the supporting cast aside from Callie (Johanna Brady) were Christians either. It felt as if the film was going to have a plot twist where it turns out that everyone else was in on their own scam. Alas, that is not the case. By the end of the film, I was even sure what to really think or feel about it. The first half was really good and I felt like the film was going places. Unfortunately it didn’t. It kind of just ends, leaving certain plots unresolved. Which is weird since it didn’t leave you with a cliff hangar. Aside from the a big plot hole (Callie sure lives by forgive and forget), the film doesn’t really have an ending. I felt like they ran out of time to shoot the ending and edited the film to have the ending it currently does. Which is a shame.
Technically this movie is well done. As stated before, the acting and cinematography was good. I didn’t care much for the soundtrack and the montage in the middle had a weird vibe due to the song playing with it. In fact there is music in many places where it is unnecessary and throws off any comedic timing. The dialogue is realistic and I didn’t ever stop to think that how anyone was talking was unrealistic in the slightest. In fact, I was surprised when the leads cursed a bit towards the end. It felt off… and thrown in as if attempting to cause some controversy. It certainly caught me by surprise and not in a good way. The best dramatic scene in the entire film was between Sam and Callie when they just both spilled exactly what they thought. Talk about a real verbal fight in a faith based film! The film does poke fun at cheesy over the top Christian movies towards the end. I wanted to laugh at this but, it was at the wrong point of the film. This felt like something that should have been placed back when they were figuring out how to be Christians.
All in all, the film has me a mess. What was promised in the trailers and what was delivered were two different things. What begins as a comedy ends up being being a drama. Believe Me is not the best Christian film I have seen (Courageous is going on three years with that award in my mind) and it certainly isn’t meant for the non converted or new believers. I recommend renting it for anyone over eighteen who is already a Christian. Also, the tank top that says “Tank You Jesus” is just brilliant.
This film is currently available to be streamed on YouTube, Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. You can also purchase the DVD and Blu-Ray from their website. Plus, it is in some theaters.
+ Dialogue is real, especially the fight scene at the end. + Acting is not cheesy at all. + Cinematography is well done. + The first half of the film is funny...
- ... But takes a weird dramatic turn. - Soundtrack was weird and was placed in the wrong spots. - Felt like the supporting characters (aside from Callie) were also faking their faith. - Unnecessary language. - Alcohol is passed off as being ok as long as you are in college and not old or Christian.
The Bottom Line
A mixed bag overall but recommended for a rental for adults. Would not recommend for teens and younger or for the non converted.