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DVD Review: ‘The Imposter’

with 3 comments

Prodigal son stories are always popular with Christians — the sinner who sees the error of his ways and returns to the fold — and the theme has been done to exhaustion in books and films. So The Imposter starts out handicapped.

And the filmmakers know it. At the start of this Pure Flix release, a voiceover says, “Yeah, this is a Christian story, and I know what you’re thinking: ‘Let’s just skip to where our hero hurtles down the aisle and falls to his knees, cries, then stands up a problem-free man’ . . . But God’s more interested in our hero going through a process than zapping him with spiritual morphine.” Nice try, but that doesn’t safeguard it from triteness.

Johnny C (Kevin Max, formerly of the Christian rap-pop group DC Talk) is a rising star as lead singer of a Christian rock group called Grand Design. They pack out auditoriums with fans who seem to scream for Johnny as much as Jesus. Worse, Johnny flirts with girls onstage, fools around with them offstage, and won’t admit to being hooked on pills.

None of that sits well with his wife, who leaves him, taking their young daughter with her. The head of Grand Design also doesn’t like it: He kicks him off the group.

Johnny divides his time between more pills, more babes and calls to his wife telling her he’s shaping up. After a failed attempt to restart his career — including a beating from loan sharks — he thumbs rides cross-country to try and reconcile with his wife. But she won’t take him back even after he cleans up.

His mentor, Proff, backs her up, but offers him a job cleaning toilets at a church. And he gets occasional words of wisdom from a crazy-but-wise homeless man (Tom Wright from World Trade Center) who has somehow befriended him.

It may not spoil any surprises to reveal that Johnny doesn’t get his family back or return to the rock group, at least at the end of the film. But he does end up humbled and hopeful.

The Imposter does have its moments. Proff is the film’s conscience, challenging everyone to examine their motives. He asks Grand Design’s head, James (a credible Jeff Deyo), if he really wants Johnny to get better, or just wants to make himself feel better.

Also good is Johnny’s evangelist father, who raises eyebrows in a counseling session. “They fired you for doing a little hound-dogging?” he says. “I taught you never to get caught.” Dad even confesses he’s stepped out a few times himself.

Casting is fair, with obvious attempts to cash in on bits of renown. Kevin Max projects a good mix of sincerity and sleaziness. Also good are his piercing voice and confident delivery, though he’s a bit pudgy these days to be a leading man. Proff’s casting is a major disappointment. He’s played by Kerry Livgren, a veteran of the secular rock group Kansas and the Christian rock group A.D. But apart from the closing credits, he doesn’t perform onscreen at all.

There’s some tension with Johnny’s lies and relapses. And the film has a few mediocre music videos, which don’t add much to the mood or message.

It’s hard to tell who is the intended audience for this film. It isn’t graphic enough for secular viewers in showing Johnny’s infidelity. That would leave church audiences. Will they face the depiction of sin in pulpits as well as Christian rock groups? Nice thought. I wonder.

If you’re still interested in the film, check out its website.

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Written by Jim Davis

May 7, 2010 at 4:05 am

3 Responses

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  1. Thanks so much for your review of our movie, THE IMPOSTER! πŸ™‚ We really do appreciate your taking the time to watch it and then to share your feedback/thoughts.

    thank you! πŸ™‚
    -Rodney@pureflix.com
    http://www.facebook.com/pureflixent
    http://www.twitter.com/pureflixent
    http://www.youtube.com/pureflixent

    Rodney

    May 7, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    • My pleasure, Rodney. I know the review wasn’t necessarily what you would have most liked, but it was a sincere look on my part, and you’re a gentleman to respond graciously.

      Jim

      religionwriter

      May 8, 2010 at 1:41 am

      • Hi Jim πŸ™‚

        Following up on your above review of our movie, THE IMPOSTER, I want to let you know that we do have a couple more NEW Christian movies releasing that I would like to mail to you as well for your review & input. Please let me know if this is ok; and if so, please forward me the specific address where you’d like me to ship them.

        thanks so much!
        talk soon πŸ™‚
        -Rodney

        Rodney

        July 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm


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