Thursday, July 23, 2020

Fundamentalist Christianity takes a good kickin' and lickin' in Karen Maine's comedy, YES, GOD, YES

The fundamental hypocrisy embedded in fundamentalist Christianity (yes, in all fundamentalist sects) has been on full display for... what? The past few centuries maybe? So the absolute and often appallingly stupid examples delivered up in the new sex-and-religion comedy YES, GOD, YES ought not come as a surprise to any but the youngest and/or most naive viewers.

This does not mean, however, that these examples do not remain amusing and fun -- even for some of us more aged/jaded audience members.

As written and directed by Karen Maine (shown at left), whose first full-length feature this is, the movie manages to entertain a lot, while provoking just a bit, thanks to the casting of actress Natalia Dyer (shown above and below) in the lead role of a very naive teen named Alice who, thanks to an earlier iteration of the internet (the film takes place maybe 15-20 years ago), is suddenly awakened to sex and its accompanying pleasures -- particularly that of masturbation.

As James Rado informed theater- and movie-goers a few decades back, via his lyrics for the musical Hair, "masturbation can be fun." So can so much else to do with sex (all of which can be problematic, too), yet the restrictive rules placed upon humanity by religion preclude our growth, enjoyment, autonomy and much else where sex is concerned.

Ms Maine and her movie mean to combat this, and they do via a situation which may by now be a bit tired but still engages, and by means of a well-chosen cast which, in addition to the charming, sweet and ill-used character played by Ms Dyer, includes the likes of Donna Lynne Champlin (above, right, of Crazy Ex Girlfriend), Wolfgang Novogratz (below, of The Half of It), and

Timothy Simons (Jonah on Veep), shown at far right below. Though mostly used in one-note fashion, these actors still deliver the necessary goods and keep the ball rolling along in pleasant if standard fashion. The film's best scene, because it veers just a bit from the expected, takes place toward the finale in a local lesbian bar during which our heroine finally gets some advice from an adult that she can actually use and run with.

One might also wish for less obvious coincidence: Would a priest in charge of a school really watch pornography on his office computer with his door wide open for anyone to see? Would the supposedly goody-goody girl go down on her boyfriend on school grounds where they can easily be caught? (TrustMovies could handle only one out of two; you might manage both.)

Still, the sweet, dorky and always believable Ms Dyer quickly becomes the centerpiece that holds it all together, demonstrating once again how, when fundamentalism comes up against inquiring minds and raging hormones, the battle is likely to be funny, silly and a little sad.

From Vertical Entertainment and running just 78 minutes, Yes, God, Yes opens July 24 at Virtual Cinemas and Drive-ins then hits Digital and VOD on Tuesday, July 28.

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