For the month of June, we asked all of our writers to include a video in their piece.
My husband regretted sending me this Facebook message on Friday: “off topic—in my Netflix browsing last night I discovered that that Christian Mingle movie is on there now.”
He regretted it because that evening, after knocking out another Blue Apron dinner, you’d better believe I made him watch it with me. And it was at least as terrible as I thought it would be. It’s so over-the-top. The plot and acting ability are Lifetime-movie caliber (and not the good Lifetime movies; the ones you put on when you just want to zone out and not use your brain.
The plot goes something like this: Gwyneth is a high-powered 30-something marketing exec who has everything—except a man. She keeps seeing TV ads for Christian Mingle, so despite being only marginally religious, making a profile seems like an awesome idea to her. She finds someone and tries to fit in with his obnoxious family and friends by going to a Bible study, dressing like a grandma, and saying long, awkward prayers. Her farce is ultimately revealed (on a mission trip in Mexico, of course), and they break up, but it’s for the best because NOW SHE CAN WORK ON HER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
The film distributors put it this way: “In an honest realization, she sees her superficial life for what it really is, and she’s driven to create a personal relationship with God. In the end, He delivers on the true desires of her heart: ‘life-changing’ love.” Super heartwarming and inspirational, right? I think you get the picture.
It’s a romantic comedy that is not really romantic, and isn’t funny, either. The main characters have no chemistry (possibly owing to the love interest’s rather ambiguous sexuality). Even the best actors couldn’t deliver this script believably. The Christianese made me squirm, but not quite as much as the uncomfortable white-saviors-in-Mexico facet.
I think the highlight of the movie for me was when the judgy, annoying Christians went out to Steak and Cake after church, not because of any plot point or transcendent acting, but because Steak and Cake is exactly what it sounds like. The table held a platter full of grilled steaks, and two full cakes (chocolate and carrot) on cake stands, served together. Because who wouldn’t want a nice big sizzler with a side of death by chocolate?
You might be wondering why I would waste an evening watching something I knew would be terrible. I have a history of watching terrible Christian movies with my husband (God’s Not Dead, the Left Behind reboot, etc.). I always know they will be bad, and they always are.
My time at Calvin taught me that Christian art is good art, that the vocational call of Christian artists is to create the best art they can. Good art speaks to the spirit. Christian Mingle is not good art.
It’s not even all that Christian, if you ask me. Now, I don’t want to discount anyone’s experience—it’s entirely possible that some people watching were uplifted in their faith—but I saw an uninspiring relationship and a lot of ignorant, judgmental people. The most Spirit I saw was in the (rather dumpy) charismatic strip-mall church where Gwyneth finds God on her own.
But I watch it anyway. Maybe it’s some weird masochism on my part. Maybe I’m looking for that part of evangelical Christianity that I miss. Maybe part of me taking my faith seriously enough to take it lightly—to laugh at it, even—involves sitting through train wrecks of poorly done moralistic movies.
I think Jesus would watch Christian Mingle with me and would snort and groan and make snarky commentary in all the right places—and then he would go out and love the people who thought it was a good idea to turn a Christian dating site into a movie plot just as much as he loves people who agonize over beautiful, transcendent works of art.
That said, don’t watch this—or, watch at your own risk. It’s an hour and forty-three minutes of your life you can never get back, and you could do a lot in that time, like make cupcakes, or read a couple hundred pages of a fluffy summer novel, or deep clean the tile grout in your bathroom—all superior options. Don’t worry; I’ll take this one for the team.
Alissa Goudswaard Anderson (’10) lives with her husband Josh in New York City, where she is earning her Master of Divinity at General Theological Seminary. Alissa enjoys private kitchen dance parties, big Midwestern thunderstorms, and perusing other peoples’ bookshelves. For more, find her online at www.episcotheque.wordpress.com or tweet her @episcotheque.