America's Most Hated Family in Crisis - 5 out of 5
If you follow my blog, you know I tend to review movies on DVD but, on occasion, some specials, documentaries or made-for-TV films are so good (or just not offered on DVD) that I have to review them and Louis Theroux's America's Most Hated Family in Crisis is one of those qualifying specials. The documentary sees Louis returning to the Westboro Baptist Church several years after filming the documentary America's Most Hated Family. A rash of high profile family members leaving the church as well as antics that can only be considered exponentially crazier than before from the church inspired Theroux to return to see what condition the members who call out "God Hates Fags" are in.
Apparently leaving the WBC makes you incredibly hot!
Now, if you've read any other previous religious-theme movies I've reviewed, you've probably learned that I am an open and proud atheist--for you first time readers, you're probably wondering why I have "Reverend" in front of my name and the answer is simple: You can get ordained, for free, on the internet. So, going into the film, I already have my ethical reasons to despise the WBC but their misinformed animosity towards homosexuality makes me hate them on a human level as well. Yes, the Bible says that homosexuality is bad but the Bible was written by man--or possibly the Flying Spaghetti Monster--and people like Phelps' clan refuse to admit how, at no point, does Jesus comment on the homosexual issue. I guess if I believed in God and the Bible is the word of God and said savior named Jesus didn't feel it was important enough to mention whether riding the rainbow and being fabulous was bad, then I guess I wouldn't waste my time being a dick and spend more time fist-bumping my gay brothers and sisters and telling them to have a great day.
Don't stare too long at Fred's image because one of either two things will happen: You'll either punch your computer screen or your face will melt off.
Writing this review, there's a big part of me that feels the need to cover my ass because I will not be saying anything nice about Fred Phelps and kin. The WBC are not afraid to sue those who disagree with them--at least some of them since a majority of the world doesn't agree with them--and I would hate for one of the Phelps to find this blog and sue me. I don't have a lawyer but I do have access to Google, so, I will say this, any inflammatory remarks I make about the Westboro Baptist Church and its members isn't necessarily fact but rather an assumption made from observations taken from their presence in the media. While Fred Phelps may not be a closeted homosexual, his "he doth protest too much" attitude towards them has made me believe there is a possibility that he may be one. Also, while it may not be confirmed that the WBC is a cult, their behavior has led me to believe they could possibly be one--however, they are missing the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. These are merely believes I have and are not backed up by any real facts--so, WBC, they're kinda like the very foundation your church is based upon. Now, with my ass more or less covered, let's move on.
Her face makes me vomit slightly in my mouth and wet my pants from fear.
Like the previous go around, Louis gives us a thought-provoking (and often chilly) insight to the true insanity that runs the creator of the Church; the Phelps Family. We see their spectacle on the news all the time but Louis gets to show us that all the mind-boggling demented behavior we see from the world of media is...well, it's EXACTLY how they are. There appears to be no OFF switch for these lunatics. Louis once again speaks candidly with the members of the family about their crazy beliefs, their disrespectful way they treat others in the community and the world and he even speaks with some who left the cult to run screaming towards freedom. Without tricks of editing or twisting their words, Louis is able to show us the deep down hypocrisy that is the Westboro Baptist Church--and he did it without pointing out that creator Fred Phelps' daughter, Shirly, had a child out of wedlock (which, the church says you'll burn in hell for). Keith Allen did this in his doc about the nutcases called Keith Allen Will Burn in Hell. If you haven't seen that one, I highly suggest you check it out. Allen takes more of a name-calling, le'ts-make-fun-of-the-church approach and while it may be sophomoric to do so, it's fucking funny as hell.
Louis shows the family constantly talking about how people who judge them need to shut up and then, later in the doc, we see the family out spilling their hate on the streets or at soldiers funerals metaphorically saying, "nanna nanna boo boo, I can say what I want." With no real deception on Louis behalf, he is able to paint a picture Bob Ross style that shows the childish and evil mixture that is the Phelps family. And what makes this already volatile concoction even more dangerous is the fact the documentary does illustrate how the family truly is in crisis and, like a scorned man with nothing to lose, their tactics on their continuing assault on the secular and humanistic world goes from an annoyance to desperate insanity.
Louis Theroux: The Bravest Man in the World.
Documentaries on the cult called the Westboro Baptist Church isn't a new thing--there are quite a few of them out there--but I think Louis' are the best there is. Not only does he show that he has the balls to even be in the same room as the WBC, he also proves he's the best to showcase the crazies and their hate-spilling bile in the best light (if there is a good light for that crap)--he also proves to be the best host to do so. Louis himself doesn't believe in God--he admits it in the film and only slight alluded to it in the first doc. Having a man who doesn't believe hang out, talk and interact with a group that believes (and believes on the extremist side of the spectrum) is the dichotomy that a documentary like this needs. You can't have a man of faith who is cool on the gay issue make a doc about these nutbars because all they would do is toss Bible quotes at each other and, here's the sad part, they would both be right. Anyone can find a verse in the Bible to justify whatever they want to believe, whether it's for love or hate, you can twist those words to fit your needs--so, Louis and his lack of belief in the invisibly wizard in the sky is needed and the biggest aspect of the film that makes it work so well. Also, Louis just seems like a really cool, genuine guy. Honestly, even the Phelps crew, who runs on pure, high octane hate, can't help but like this guy.
I want to party with this guy!
America's Most Hated Family in Crisis is an all around fantastic, and deeply frightening, documentary that shows a family on the verge of collapse--I guess building a faith based on hate doesn't make the strongest building blocks, try some Legos next time. I just hope Louis does one final documentary after Fred finally kicks the bucket and gets the family's collapse on tape--as well as myself and thousands of others picketing the monster's funeral.