A lot changed in the ten years after God's Army came about. In global events, the twin towers fell[1], while over at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the missionary bar for missionary standards was formally raised. The bottom of the form 'Mormon Cinema' that Dutcher largely invented with this release fell out, and similarly, the housing market burst and the great recession hit America.


It was in this very changed world, in 2010, that I went on my own mission. Not only had both society and the church gone through enough growing pains to potentially completely shift the paradigm of what a mission could be, but I was sent to the other side of the world from Los Angeles.


I spoke French, and we weren't allowed to hug female investigators, thank you very much.


Despite all of this contrast, and despite having been home from a mission for nearly a decade, God's Army still felt like returning to a certain warm-but-weird home. I'm convinced that even if this movie does nothing for your tastes, it will have succeeded in being the first of its kind to capture so many of my lived experiences[2].


Are the experiences a little melodramatic at times? Sure. But in a way, the missionary lifestyle *feels* this dramatic at times. Again, you may not know what I mean if you were never a missionary[3].


Does the movie feel like it checks off a tidy list of stock mission archetypes? Sure. But credit must be given to Dutcher for being a microcosmic pioneer[4]. It must not be forgotten that people took (and maybe still take, I don't know) issue with the simple idea of a dramatized portrayals of priesthood blessings/ordinances onscreen[5].


So, I don't know what else I feel like getting into. I could talk about faith crises, Dutcher and his "R Rated Truths," or the lessons 'Mollywood' took/missed from this film.


I didn't love all of it, by any means. The performances weren't all great. I hate the line on which the film concludes. But I think there's something here. I honestly don't know how I got to this so late[6], but I'm eager to track the sequel, as well as the rest of Dutcher's filmography.


Final thoughts:

• Desean Terry is the standout performance in the film.

• Big props to an accurate onscreen depiction of the infamous 'celestial smile.'

[1] I feel like a lot could be written about the many ways this movie is distinctly pre-9/11, while also somehow capturing a post-9/11 vibe, but I will refrain.

[2] I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be dismissive, whoever you are, but that's just how it resonated for me.

[3] I promise, it's okay if this just sounds like an excuse to you.

[4] tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeinfeldIsUnfunny

[5] At least outside of church-endorsed projects.

[6] For being both a film major and a lover of mormonana, I am a disgrace.

So I'm blogging. Why? What year is it, 2008? I have a few reasons.


There's always self-expression, of course. In making my new podcast[1][2], I have quickly learned that I have a lot to say, nay, too much to say, but that listening to me say it while waiting for my promised guest probably violates the Geneva Conventions. So, I thought, perhaps a blog would allow for more of an opt-in ticket to my brain overflow.


I have also been wanting to write more, and I suppose this makes for a sort of practice, although without any sort of editorial oversight I may very well be a guy in the corner of the gym curling 1 pound weights for 6 minutes a day wondering why I'm not making any progress. But doing something is always better than doing nothing[3].


Then, of course, there's the fact that I built a website, and it had a button to add a blog. "Gee," I thought, as I mortared another brick to Cask of Amontillado myself, "Wouldn't it be nice to tackle another medium?"


And, finally, distraction. I am trying to distract myself. From fast Sunday, from an unfinished Mario meme, from a parody video I have been editing[5], from an actually important collage I should have done a month ago. I think in some sense, my jack-of-all-trades approach to tackling new mediums and methods of creation is just a form of running away, moving to new towns to start new families to escape the families I started[6].


So, now that I have explained myself, do I have anything to say? Any Content™ to share? Hell no, dude. I'm just doing this for me. But in public, because I guess a personal journal wasn't enough. The medium is the message? I don't know. But I feel better for putting something out in the world.

[1] Ahem, it's called Special Day Morning, and I am allowed to plug it. This is my own damn mini-empire, a fascist state of one, and I will run it with a cross-promoting iron fist!

[2] Yes, that includes copious footnotes.

[3] In my head I can write pretty well, if I do say so myself. But once I open my mouth or hit the keyboard, I seem to jumble it all up. I am self-diagnosed with Krang Syndrome, wherein one spends a decade thinking a lot, thereby strengthening the inner brain, but socializing very little, therefore atrophying the outward means of communication [4].

[4] Except, I suppose, that Krang's body is strong, and I cannot currently say the same for my own. And Krang can also communicate just fine. Listen, it's not a great metaphor. I just wanted to talk about Krang, I guess.

[5] It's the Drake & Josh intro, but Laman & Lemuel, and it's going to be great, once I finish key-framing all of the heckin' arrows. This is the kind of sneak-peek content you will get for reading my blog.

[6] Like, the Johnny Appleseed of dads, man.

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