Never Ending Pasta Bowl
The Perfect Stranger (2005): 4 out of 10: Hey it’s a Christian film. It’s My Dinner with Andre, but instead it is My Dinner with Jesus. Who is also God and the Holy Ghost all at the same time (And no annoyingly Jesus does not explain that at dinner, thank you very much. Unknowable my ass.)
Filmed for a hundred thousand dollars (Which honestly is ninety thousand more than I would have guessed) the movie takes place almost exclusively in an upscale Italian restaurant. (Which to the film’s credit actually looks like an actual restaurant unlike some other films I could mention cough “First We Take Brooklyn” cough.)
The Good: You know there is something pleasant about the film. Both Pamela Brumley and Jefferson Moore are fine in their roles, and the whole film has an understated, almost mellow feel to it. Some of the banter is thought provoking, and the film doesn’t fall too hard into many of the traps that Christian films are notorious for.
The Bad: Between the time I reviewed The Perfect Stranger and posting the review on my site, I accidentally watched a movie with actual Christian values (The Least of These: A Christmas Story). As a result, my view of The Perfect Stranger is a touch harder. I still think it has its charms, but the messaging is honestly the antithesis of Christian and Jesus’ teachings in many ways.
Was there some sort of film camera drought in 2005 I didn’t know about? What the hell was this filmed on? It seems like a closed set with professional actors but we seemed to have gotten out the same camera one buys to record your kid’s graduation on then hurriedly return to Best Buy.
The script has some serious issues as well. Jefferson Moore does the all knowing, all powerful stuff very well in an understated manner. So well, I almost expected the movie to turn into a horror film at a few points. (And honestly, it could have ended like a Cinemax film as well. By the end of the film Nikki looked like she was going to allow Jesus into her if you know what I mean and I think you do.)
Questions for Jesus
Pamela Brumley doesn’t seem to have a lot of good questions for Jesus. I mean, what is the point of childhood leukemia would be a good starting point. Are there dogs in Heaven? What happened to the people that died between Adam and Eve being thrown out of the Garden and the birth of Jesus? Do you think the dress is gold or blue? Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Instead, we get some softballs and some obvious strawman questions that fundamentalist Christians like to pull out. Even when the questions get tough, she never follows up with the obvious problems located within the answers. When Jesus says people need to suffer so they will accept God’s love she never follows up with “what the #$#$ is wrong with you you sick #$@#$. Obviously children don’t need to suffer to accept a parent’s love, so really what the hell.”
The Ugly: Did you know that Muslims and Hindus are going to Hell? Those foolish people being born in a different place and time than a white lady from Cincinnati. Why do certain fundamentalist Christians feel the need to do this?
I was once dragged to a small church with a fundamentalist preacher who spent the entire sermon, not talking about Jesus’ love, but about how Mormons are all going to hell. What possible purpose does this serve? For the record, I have had nothing but pleasant encounters with Mormons, and in my humble opinion the majority of them seem to walk the walk pretty well. (I will give them Warren Jeffs going to Hell, however.)
Jesus opens with this, and it is a horrible misstep (for many reasons). He is trying to establish a relationship with his dinner guest and condemning the majority of humans to Hell through no fault of their own this seemed like an ugly way to start.
We also never see the restaurant bill. Jesus and Nikki stay well past closing and the poor wait staff had to close up late. What did Jesus tip? Because as a server in another life, I can tell you some of his most ardent followers had genuine issues in that department.
In Conclusion: I have to confess I found the film pleasant for some reason. It just was. The two leads seemed to have a good chemistry and The Perfect Stranger is a nice idea executed in a moderately okay manner. I am not recommending the film but I am hardly upset I watched it.
Still think Jesus and Nikki should have hooked up at the end. Jesus isn’t seeing anyone and Nikki’s husband is dull as dishwater, that marriage isn’t going anywhere. Honestly, Nikki looked like she hadn’t screamed God’s name in quite a while.
Hey it is the entire film on YouTube. Not that I recommend it, mind you.
Lots of shots of Pamela Brumley and her subtle smoking erotic undertones while talking to God. You may notice that God is a blond, blue-eyed man that looks like he works for Lehman Brothers. Some other random shots of extras, but they are few and far between. Unfortunately, the film quality didn’t lend itself to screenshots.