Salvation Boulevard: Screwball Comedy about Religious Fundamentalists
Ed HarrisGreg Kinnear...
With all the fear-mongering going on nowadays about Islamists taking
over Egypt, this reviewer thought it would be fun to watch a comedy that deals
with the wackier side of religious fundamentalists. While it does have some
real laugh-out-loud moments, Salvation Boulevard tries too hard to be a
screwball comedy and ultimately fails.
Dan Day (Brosnan) is a rock-star pastor at the Church of the Third
Millennium. His congregation shows up in droves, hangs onto his every word and
generally treats him like the promised messiah. Carl (Kinnear) is an
ex-deadhead who has traded the Grateful Dead for a married life with Gwen
(Connelly), who is Pastor Dan’s number one groupie. Under her influence, Carl is
made to structure his life around the church.
After a debating with a famous atheist author, Pastor Dan starts fooling
around with the author’s gun and accidentally shoots him in the head. In his
panic, Dan tries to paint the accident as a suicide by placing the gun in the
guy’s hand. Carl leaves Dan blathering on about the bigger picture and the
greater good only to find next day at church that Dan has pointed him out as
the shooter to the police and that he’s brainwashed one of the guys from church
into believing that God was ordering him to kill Carl, for the greater good of
Carl’s family is consists of him, the non-confrontational supposedly
born-again Christian, his wife Gwen, the 110% devoted believer and their
daughter Angie (Fuhrman), a sceptic who is forced to go along with her mother’s
wishes. While all Kinnear has to do in this film is react to and look slightly
disturbed by the things around him, Connelly is hilarious as Pastor Dan’s
biggest fan. Thoroughly brainwashed, she is sent into a state of frenzy at the mere mentions of drugs, sex and rock music. The sexual tension between her and Pastor Dan is
hilarious if slightly nauseating.
Brosnan is a bundle of charisma who wholeheartedly believes in the
things he preaches and doesn’t see his congregation’s devotion to him as
strange or excessive. The film’s star however is Marisa Tomei. She has a small
but amazing role as a pot-smoking, deadhead security guard that Carl reaches
out to when he finds himself doubted by everyone else.
If there’s one thing the film gets right; it’s definitely the characters:
they are never patronised or judged for their beliefs. Both the religious
fundamentalists and the diehard atheist are good-naturedly made fun of. However, the film’s plotline is
wildly uneven and a bit of a mess. The film is filled with twists and turns,
each more unexpected and illogical than the last.
The film’s score tries to increase
the suspense factor though it’s more cheesy than tense and sticks out like a
sore thumb whenever it starts playing. The film’s message isn’t
really clear; though the one thing that comes across loudly is that a belief in
rock and roll is far more logical and fulfilling than religious fundamentalism
and atheism combined.