Review: Believe Me


Director:Will Bakke

Cast:Alex Russell, Miles Fisher, Max Adler, Sinqua Walls, Zachary Knighton

Running Time:93.00


Believe Me walks a fine line. It's a Christian movie that's quite secular. It's a comedy but also a drama. But its greatest feat is that it's a movie about four guys doing something pretty reprehensible but still manages to keep them likable. 

Sam (Alex Russell), Pierce (Miles Fisher), Baker (Max Adler) and Tyler (Sinqua Walls), all broke college seniors, go in on a terrible scheme: Start a fake charity and swindle all the donations they can out of gullible church groups.

Like any fiendish plot, one small lie begets more, bigger lies, and soon the foursome find themselves on a nationwide tour, honing their snake-oil sales pitches to hundreds of people lapping it all up. Yet leave it to writers Michael Allen and Will Bakke to find the humanity in guys doing something so inhumane.

All four actors find the grace notes in what could have been stock characters. Alex Russell (Chronicle) ably carries the lead role of Sam, amping up his non-religious character's considerable charm and tailoring it to a Christian audience. He's a non-believer getting audiences to buy into his act of belief. It's a role within a role, and he handles it with aplomb.

Believe Me is also one of the funniest films of the year. Zachary Knighton"”of the dearly departed Happy Endings"”plays Gabriel the band leader. His idea of a deep song is simply "Jesus" repeated 100 times while he strums his guitar. As Sam's romantic rival for the affections of Callie (Johanna Braddy), he gets to show off his considerable comic talents. Nick Offerman also shows up in one demented scene as Sam's hard-drinking school counselor. Any scene with these two is golden, but the rest of the cast all have their own comedy chops.

But the best part about Believe Me is that it never, ever gets preachy, even when characters are literally giving sermons. For too many years, films made by Christians have been truly amateur productions that are simply regurgitating platitudes to an audience that doesn't see many movies anyway. Instead, this is a well made film with a good story and a likable cast. And that's something people, regardless of their faith, can believe in. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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