Believe Me

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:33 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

I know. I read the press release for “Believe Me.” And yes, I know the synopsis mentioned a group of college kids who figured out a great way to make a quick buck, namely by scamming Christians to donating money to their phony-baloney charity, and then said kids would realize the true meaning of being good people. And finally, I know that’s what the movie ends up being about, but I so wanted it to flip directions and be a full parody of Christian fundraising. Instead, yes, our foursome realized the error of their ways and became good people again, until, “I, um.”

Here’s the basics…

Sam (Alex Russell) is in college. He wants to go to law school but owes college a bunch of bucks before he can officially graduate and move on to law. At a Christian service one day, after hearing a girl ask for money for her cause and finding out how much she made in two weeks, he hatches a plan and somehow convinces his buddies to go along. Yes, they were going to come up with some fake charity, something about water for Africa, call it “Project Get Well Soon,” and when the bucks rolled in they would pocket the cash. Somehow Sam forgot about the law.

They have an event and it goes so well they become recruited by Shooter McGavin (Okay, in the movie his name is Ken, and in real life he is Christopher McDonald, but he’ll always be Shooter to me), to go on tour with another Christian charity group, Cross Country. It is while on the road they sharpen their craft as scamsters, and Sam also wants to hook up with Christian cutie, Callie (Johanna Braddy).

The thing is that they learn their craft so well they begin to achieve rock star status, much to the dismay of the actual rock star on the tour, Gabriel (Zachary Knighton), who also wants to hook up with Callie.

Low and behold Tyler (Sinqua Walls) of the group of dudes begins to see the error of their ways, and slowly, one by one, they all fall back in line as good people, but not before their scam is uncovered. Ken is disappointed in them but won’t press charges as long as they keep touring and helping him raise cash much to the dismay of Gabriel, and Callie sees the goodness in Sam.

Yup, the movie ended just as the press release said, except, “I, um.”

Here’s the thing. For me, “Believe Me,” was at it’s best when it was mocking Christian fundraising. There was a scene in the middle of the movie where our boys realized that in order to be the best at scamming they had to figure out exactly what Christians were like. They needed to learn everything about the God-loving folks who went to the events, things like how to worship, stand, make hand gestures, even what to eat and wear. They find things like worship stances, prayer postures, kitschy slogans, and that “You don’t want to be Shawshanking in a room full of Geckos.” They even complete things by setting up their own clothing line, “Cross Dressing.” Get it, “Cross” dressing, Christians, crosses. It’s almost the ultimate in mocking. And it was funny.

The almost scary part was how spot on the stereotypes were, especially if you have ever watched some of the preachers on TV asking for money, and the way the people in the audience act at them. The movie was great at this, but then there was the “Okay, let’s let this movie have a message that they learn their lesson” part that turned things into more of a generic film.

There we are, having a good time, and all of a sudden our mocking boys are all goody-two-shoes, there is this lovely montage, and with Sam on the stage about to give his big “come to Jesus” speech the movie ends with him saying, “I, um…”. Maybe it was supposed to be kind of artsy, maybe it was supposed to make you reflect, but all it had both me and my wife say was “What kind of crap ending was that?”

When “Believe Me” was doing what it was doing best, being funny and mocking the “give me money for thirsty people in Africa” thing, it was almost a 4 star comedy, and even as the generic “they learn the error of their ways” movie, it was still okay at about 3 1/2 stars, but when both me and my wife end up with the same reaction after sticking with the film to the end, I’ve got to drop it one star. Sadly a movie that had great potential and was even just okay, totally blew it with one “I, um…” ending. It’s 2 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Believe Me.” That might even be a little generous, but the mocking keeps it up there for me.

The Blu-ray had some extra stuff, namely some deleted scenes that again showed the movie couldn’t figure out if it wanted to skewer the fundraising or embrace the goodness, and the outtakes were okay.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Believe Me
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Alex Russell, Zachary Knighton, Johanna Braddy, Miles Fisher, Sinqua Walls, Christopher McDonald
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Virgil Films & Entertainment
On Blu-Ray & DVD: March 3, 2015
Kiddie Movie: It’s safe enough for them, but I don’t think they’ll get the jokes.
Date Movie: Up until the last line.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah. Just some drunkeness.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: When they are making fun and mocking.
Memorable Scene: The “Learning to be Christian” scenes.
Memorable Quote: “He went to prison. He said he hated it.
Directed By: Will Bakke
Cool things about the Blu-ray: I did like the hazing scene. It kind of reminded me of “Old School.”