It's easy to `Buy' into message

Review B+

December 07, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

My nomination for a new Christmas perennial: What Would Jesus Buy? President Bush says the terrorists will win if we stop shopping. This documentary says humanity loses if we keep hocking our future possibilities to purchase goods and services.

What Would Jesus Buy? crackles with the humorous effrontery of its subject, performance artist Bill Talen. In his guise as Reverend Billy, the bleached-blond leader of the Church of Stop Shopping, he preaches against the forces of American consumerism with a grass-roots theatrical esprit. Talen's Reverend Billy brings an Elmer Gantry-like hyperbole and grit, and satiric improvisations, to the overblown antics of TV evangelists, then puts it all to a good cause: salvaging Yuletide soul from salesmanship. Backed by a gospel choir, he tilts against the windmills of Wal-Mart, Starbucks and Walt Disney, taking his fight right into the bellies of corporate beasts: consumer magnets like Times Square (now "a Stonehenge of logos," he says) and Disneyland's Main Street.

What Would Jesus Buy? (Warrior Poets) A documentary by Rob VanAlkemade about Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. Rated PG. Time 90 minutes.

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