Film

Want to Pay $14 to See a 90-Minute Commercial for Mormonism?

by

The Church of Latter-day Saints’ hyper-capitalist spirit guides Meet the Mormons, an extension of the “I’m a Mormon” campaign that sought to paint its ranks as a motley, hip lot. Instead of explaining what Mormonism is, this slick corporate video for the church only teaches us to want: On offer is the wholesomeness that comes with family, stability, and physical fitness.

It’s like selling Scientology by touting that faith’s Hollywood connections — and the fodder it might offer for future memoirs. Aimed at nonbelievers, Meet the Mormons isn’t substantial enough to screen on the first day of LDS 101; the church’s most basic tenets — and controversial aspects — are elided completely. Instead, the focus is on the just-swell lives of six members, with a conspicuous emphasis on ethnic and cultural diversity, possibly to paper over the church’s racist past.

Profiled with little pretense at depth are a Southern black clergyman, a Samoan-American college football coach, a martial-arts-loving Costa Rican couple, a World War II pilot, a Nepalese humanitarian, and an interracial family preparing for their young-adult son’s imminent departure for his missionary trip. Though most of the subjects seem to be first-generation converts — several recall trepidation about deviating from family traditions — we only hear one woman’s seeing-the-light story: After the death of her infant, she found a community that took care of her.

Her openness makes it the only compelling moment in the film, the rest of which could learn a thing or two about the complexity of the human experience from Coca-Cola commercials.