Playing God

DVD Release: May 1, 2021
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faith
integrity
sex
language
violence
drugs
nudity
other

Synopsis

Micah and Rachel, a brother/sister con-artist duo, find themselves scamming a grieving billionaire by convincing him they can introduce him to God, face-to-face. They recruit their long time mentor, Frank, to “play” God and the three of them attempt the biggest con of their lives. The film takes an off-beat comedic stroll through the enigmatic problem of evil and suffering.

Dove Review

Intelligently written and thought-provoking, this well-acted drama stirringly deals with the topic of God and why He allows the tragic moments and suffering in our lives.

The story begins with two con artist twins, Micah (Luke Benward) and Rachel (Hannah Kasulka), who are great at fleecing people out of their money. Posing as needy victims, they have managed to make a pretty good living from the generosity of others. However, they come across one man who catches them in their deceitful plot and demands $100,000 from them within ten days or it will be “lights out” for the duo.

Micah and Rachel consult their old “mentor” Frank (Michael McKean), who has been trying to run a legitimate business at a roller rink since being released from prison. He doesn’t want to do the con game anymore, but when the twins mention a certain target, a soul-searching billionaire named Ben Elwood, he decides one more con might be financially worth taking the risk.

There are a lot of nice underpinning moments in this dramatic story, which explains a lot of the set-ups in the plot. For instance, the twins’ dad left them when they were quite young and they have never gotten over it. On top of this sad scenario, their mother committed suicide, using drugs as her choice in leaving this world. She died on their bathroom floor.

The plot the trio conceives is for Frank to play “God,” and to talk with Ben. Ben has searched for a greater meaning in life for a long while. His spiritual quest has included meditation, drinking with a Brazilian shaman, and talking with a Catholic priest.

Micah tells Ben that he can arrange for God (himself) to meet with him. “No smoke and mirrors, no burning bush-God wants to talk to you.” Frank finds out as much as he can about Ben, and with Rachel and Micah aiding him behind the scenes, he meets with Ben on the top of a building. This is after Frank has bought a custom suit and jokes with Micah and Rachel, “Repeat after me, in Frank I trust.”

Frank’s background includes attending Catholic school for 10 years, and he thinks there are insane moments in the Bible. “Talking donkeys, people coming back from the dead, people turning to salt and channeling spirits,” he says. Yet, there is a quality about Frank that will leave the viewer thinking there is more to him than just what is seen on the surface.

Frank tells the twins, “We don’t need to give him the God of the Bible or the Koran or Oprah-we just need to give him the God that he wants.” We soon learn that Ben lost a daughter, tragically killed when she was still a girl. He has never gotten over it. He keeps wondering, “Why?” Rachel struggles with this trickery of Frank posing as God and she finds herself feeling sympathy for Ben. She sees the pain in Ben’s eyes. Micah is less sympathetic. “The world burns everyone,” he says. “Life sucks and nothing matters. Well, actually, there’s one thing that matters–money. Money creates opportunity.”

At the meeting on the building, Ben asks Frank, “So, you’re God. Which one?” “There’s only one,” replies Frank. As they talk Frank demonstrates that he’s done his homework by letting Ben know he knows him very well, including his heartbreaking past. When Ben thinks about leaping off the building, Micah tells Frank in an ear-piece to let him. But Rachel begs him to stop him. Frank convinces Ben to meet with him again in a place other than “high places.”

This fascinating story climaxes with Rachel deciding, “I can’t do this anymore.” And a shocking revelation brings the movie to an amazing and satisfying conclusion. The filmmakers are to be commended for tackling a painful subject—the suffering of life and God’s seemingly silent stance.

Although not blatantly Christian, the film concludes with two strong Christian statements: The Lord’s Prayer is played by the Beach Boys, and a scriptural reference to Joseph from the book of Genesis is displayed on screen at the very conclusion of the film. Without plot-spoiling, it is significant to note that the final words of the movie gives us an insight to the sorrows of this world: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result.”

This film has earned our Dove seal for Ages 12+.

The Dove Take:

For anyone who needs to find hope in difficult and painful circumstances, this movie will speak to your heart.

Content Description

Faith: There are a few distinct Christian moments which includes seeing a church and the cross, The Lord’s Prayer in a song and a reference to Joseph from Genesis at the conclusion of the film as well as a few Biblical quotes.
Integrity: There are characters who change and ultimately make decisions of integrity.
Sex: None
Language: Someone exclaims “Oh g…!” and a man posing as God jokes not to take his name in vain; H*** is mentioned in a song a few times but is used in reference to God turning things into a Heaven from the h*** in our lives.
Violence: A few violent moments include a man busting up a guitar and a few people holding guns on each other; people’s lives are threatened; a man is knocked out by being hit with a gun.
Drugs: A few characters are seen with alcohol and bourbon and a man holds a beer; a man drinks from a flask; it’s stated a woman died from a drug overdose.
Nudity: Mild cleavage in a scene.
Other: The topic of pain and suffering; a man that portrays God jokes about it, saying such things as “In me you must trust”; tension and disagreements between characters; characters steal various objects and con people out of money; death and grief; a girl is briefly seen vomiting; a Buddha figure is seen in a man’s home, a man seeking to find God.

Info

Company: Watershed Motion Pictures
Director: Scott Brignac
Producer: Aaron Benward
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 95 min.
Reviewer: Ed C.