It’s tough being a young Mormon man. At aged 20 you are made to leave home and dispatched to some far flung part of the world to pair up with another innocent youth and for the next two years be a Missionary and force the Gospel on to unsuspecting souls to recruit them as new members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Of course its not the Gospel as in the Bible but Joseph Smith’s take on religion and the great hereafter known as The Book of Mormon.
RJ the protagonist in this story is an ex high school athlete who is disappointed that his Mission is to be in Oregon a mere 6 hours away from his native Idaho and his long-standing girlfriend who he doesn’t seem too broken hearted to be leaving. (In four years he’s never got past a peck on the check). The senior Missionary who is to be his ‘companion’ i.e. they must stick together 24/7, is Chris who must be addressed as Elder Merrill at all times.
Chris has both more experience and more confidence than RJ but even he is thrown off-course after a couple of encounters with non-believers whose challenges make them both start to question the validity of the mission. They realize that it is more than a tad presumptuous of two immature 20 year olds to be lecturing grown men about the iniquities of their lives.
It soon turns out that these two young men who hang around their apartment in their special Mormon ‘magic’ underwear have more of a passion for each other than the Prophet Smith would like. After all its OK to be a polygamist and a Mormon, but certainly not gay.
Their new found love coincides with them slacking of from hustling potential converts and starting to actually have some fun for the first time but when their Supervisor comes to check out what’s up and he gets an eyeful of naked flesh, then the game is up. Now they will have to head home in disgrace and face their families and their faith.
This is one of those micro-budget indie movies that I have a very soft spot for: totally easy to pick holes in the story, production and not least the heavy handed score etc etc, but it has a great deal to like and an immense amount of charm that balances it out.
Two fine young actors playing the leads : Nick Ferrucci (‘Tandem Hearts’) as RJ gets a couple of fine monologues where he stands up for himself against the Church hierarchy, and Benjamin Farmer (‘The Roomies’) as Chris who ends up being the one with the least confidence after all. It has a script that took great strides to be as bi-partisan as possible about the Mormonism (why though?), and instilled it with a couple of really funny scenes ……when the boys are smoking pot and watching TV with someone they have befriended instead of converting, RJ admits that Mormons love censoring fun and that their version of the movie ‘Usual Suspects’ is now just a mere 27 minutes long.
For newbie writer/director/producer Jon Garcia it was a spirited debut and something of a daring choice for subject matter as lovelorn gay Mormons already featured in a now classic highly-successful queer movie ‘Latter Day Saints’ that this will inevitably be compared with. It is not in the same league (it doesnt have Joseph Gordon-Leavitt for a start) but it has a freshness and very definite appeal as a good date night movie. Unless maybe if you are a Mormon, and living in Oregon or Idaho I guess.