Comfortable and Furious

The R.M. (2003)

In a world full of wacky, fucked up religions, Mormonism is surely the greatest affront to reason and common sense yet devised by the human animal, although they must be credited with one of the most effective propaganda machines the world has ever known. With the Catholic Church swimming in controversy, and Islam practically equated with death in much of the Western world, the Latter-Day Saints continue to grow at a record pace. And now, it seems, Mormonism has its own movie production studio to walk hand-in-hand with the entire state of Utah and, increasingly, much of Montana and Arizona, in its march to eventual world domination.

I have no doubt that the Mormons will win the day, as I have seen little evidence to contradict the belief that now, more than ever, people (and Americans in particular) are ready for the allure of the sort of brainwashing that can only be found in a state-of-the-art cult. With The R.M., a film that purports to be a comedy, yet contains as many laughs an afternoon spent face-to-face with an LDS missionary (which I have done, thank you very much), the church is now giving us a world where Mormons are “just folks,” that is if your typical American has a dozen children, gets married after two weeks of serious hand-holding, and actually refers to all dark-skinned people as “Lamanites.” No guesses as to whether or not this description connotes inferiority. Not to get ahead of myself, but after watching this movie, it is clear that Mormons hate black people. Hell, they loathe all non-whites. I’ve seen more progressive attitudes about minorities in The Turner Diaries.

The film itself concerns Jared Phelps (called “Elder” by every frickin’ person he meets, which is another bizarre piece of bullshit from the LDS crowd) as he returns from a mission in Evanston, Wyoming. Upon his arrival home, he meets with one headache after the other. No one meets him at the airport, he walks up to the house and sees that it’s been sold (he’s been gone two years, remember), encounters a Japanese stereotype that reminded me of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, gets soaked by a sprinkler, gets attacked by a dog, then falls into a nearby pool. Those poor, unfortunate Mormons; they can never catch a break.

He finally reunites with his family — a fat pig, nutcase mother who has had at least 12 children (the family photo is flashed too quickly for an exact count), a father literally named Brigham, and a Pacific Islander exchange student named Hoo-hoo Moo-koo Noo-koo Apoo Pa-wa (I think), who is yet another embarrassing caricature of a non-white. Jared also looks up his girlfriend, who promised to wait for him until the end of his mission. But wait! She’s met another guy and announces that she intends to marry him instead. Heartbroken, Jared goes to look for work. But first, he must return the ring, and when he does, the salesman takes pity on the lad and breaks out a Caffeine Free Diet Coke in which to drown their sorrows.

One of Jared’s jobs involves a company named “Filthy Filter,” which as we know is very close — too close — to the actual Utah-based First Amendment shredder Clean Flicks. It’s all played for laughs of course, but this shit ain’t funny, Elder. Or Brother. Or what the fuck ever. At any rate, the plot is incidental to the larger cause, that of conversion, indoctrination, and myth-making that attempts to humanize a group of people who as a lot, deserve the gas chamber. Or at least our collective, unceasing ridicule and a rail to ride out of town. This film might as well have been in an obscure African dialect, as there were way too many inside jokes and references that could only mean something to some fruitcake who wears magic underwear and believes Jesus walked around chatting up pioneers in the 19th century, or that the Book of Mormon is anything but the hysterical, mad ravings of a clinically insane tyrant.

Magic glasses that allow the wearer to translate golden tablets? Angels named Moroni and some “godly” clause that extorts 10% of all Mormon income? Do people really believe this shit? You bet they do, and their organization is in a horse race with the Vatican for global hegemony.

Since this was found in the comedy section of the video store (Hollywood Video, the creeps, who stock this shit but nothing from Kurosawa?), I’ll throw a few more “jokes” your way. Son: “But, but….” Dad: “Buts are for chairs, son.” After Jared is turned down by Brigham Young University, his dad states: “There’s always BYU-Idaho, son.” There is? Holy fucking Christ, why? The littlest Phelps boy reads Stephen Covey at the breakfast table. Jared is forced to get a job at Book of Mormon Burger.

At a movie theater where Jared has taken a date (some girl who is supposed to be a teenager, yet appears no younger than 35), we see a poster for God’s Navy. I’d laugh, but I’ve seen God’s Army. And for no reason whatsoever, there was a midget cop who appears near the end of the film. And I mean a really creepy midget; the kind you’d expect to see in an episode of Twin Peaks. Since it couldn’t have been for laughs, I have to believe that the Weeble was inserted as a reminder of what might happen to you if you stray from the word of God. And again — for no reason — Jared is savaged by boils (twice!) only to lose them the next day with an equal amount of mystery. Is all this written in code that only LDS members can understand?

As expected, Jared learns a life lesson (tell the truth, never cover for a friend, especially when that friend is — gasp! — drinking beer with two chicks in the car), rises to expectations, and finds a great girl to replace the one he lost. All is right by the Great Salt Lake, and no one so much as utters a curse word or gives in to temptation. It was inoffensive, wholesome, and dull-as-fuck. And when Jared is briefly jailed after a night of crazy happenings, the first black man we’ve seen is a muscular thug who hints (this is a family film, after all) that he just might make Jared his bitch. And yes, I learned that R.M. stands for “Return Missionary.” It takes a special breed to be the worst known off-shoot of Christianity, but for LDS, a wild applause is in order. And now you’re making films that present your distorted, twisted, and perverse worldview as normal, even “cool.” Not while I’m still able to shoot straight, assholes.