What Would Jesus Buy?
Directed by Rob VanAlkamade
Opens November 16, Cinema Village
Although What Would Jesus Buy? was directed by Rob VanAlkemade, it bears the unmistakable imprimatur of its producer, Morgan Spurlock. Much like Spurlock's hit Super Size Me, this production is slick, well-paced, and tremendously entertaining. It follows a group called Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping on a pre-Christmas tour through an endless parade of dreary Midwestern malls. According to his press bio, Reverend Billy is "an officiant of the rites of marriage in New York City, and a lifelong lover of birds of prey." More to the point, he's a performance artist riffing on the persona of an evangelical minister in order to drive home to Americans just how in thrall we are to the church of consumerism. Unfortunately, WWJB never pushes past the surface of this shtick to explore the deeper forces behind our impulse to buy. It could use more interviews with the free-trade experts and anti-sweatshop activists, and fewer shots of the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir exhorting Wal-Mart shoppers to, well, stop shopping, no matter what they're buying and why they need it.