A documentary look, mostly through the eyes of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, at her rise and fall as a popular televangelist with husband Jim Bakker. Traces their rise: her teen marriage to ...
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A documentary look, mostly through the eyes of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, at her rise and fall as a popular televangelist with husband Jim Bakker. Traces their rise: her teen marriage to Jim; their children's TV show (she was a puppeteer and singer), success founding the 700 Club, co-founding the Trinity Broadcast Network, and starting PTL Network; her nondenominational version of Christianity reaching out to all; and, their building of Heritage USA, a theme park. Things fall apart as money woes mount for Heritage and for Jim, as Tammy takes pills, and as Jerry Falwell takes PTL. Jim goes to prison; she remarries, finds herself alone again, yet remains unsinkable. Written by
First, I'm not religious and I always thought Jim and Tammy Faye were pathetic scam artists.
I knew, of course, about the scandals involving them and their ministry. What I did not know, and what this film chronicles, is how the Bakkers invented televangelism with not one but three different networks, each of which was stolen from them by other televangelists. Jerry Falwell comes across exactly as the kind of person I have always suspected him to be: a schemer, a traitor, and a con man.
Jim Bakker may not fare much better in the film's view (though Tammy still defends him). It is Tammy Faye herself who is the revelation, though. I did not know of her true compassion for groups that Christian ministries still vilify today (AIDS victims, gays, the poor, etc.).
I never expected to find myself actually sympathizing with, and even liking, the fun-loving, vulnerable Tammy Faye. This is not some propaganda film, but a warts and all profile by respected filmmakers. The narrator is famed drag queen RuPaul Charles, which underscores just how surprising this film is.
I'm not saying I'd like to hear Tammy Faye sing, but after watching this engaging film, I wouldn't mind living next door to her.
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