Two pairs of Mormon missionaries from America live in a beaten-up apartment in the Dutch city of Haarlem. Their personalities are distinctly different. Appropriately, the most responsible ... See full summary »
Two pairs of Mormon missionaries from America live in a beaten-up apartment in the Dutch city of Haarlem. Their personalities are distinctly different. Appropriately, the most responsible one, Elder Johnson, is the District Leader and oversees their efforts. His companion, the vain Elder Van Pelt, seeks to become the assistant to the mission president (the top post available) as soon as possible, and he receives letters from three girlfriends he left behind. The capable Elder Rogers has become disillusioned and inattentive to his duties ever since a previous missionary companion returned to America, looked up and married Elder Roger's girlfriend. As a result he is simply marking time until he returns home in a few weeks time. The three meet Elder Roger's new companion, Elder Calhoun, in the train station. This new elder is a nerdy but enthusiastic "greenie" that has just arrived from the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Utah. Unfortunately his training did not give him much fluency... Written by
From a production values point of view, this is by far the best of the "Mormon Cinema". The acting, writing, camera work and even the soundtrack are all first rate. The scenery in Holland is very beautiful as well.
The story, superbly acted by an ensemble cast, is familiar. Essentially, a newbie missionary shows up and attempts to fit in with more established, more cynical veterans. The results: After the expected bumps and false starts, they all wind up growing, and benefiting from his presence, spirit and enthusiasm... much to their own surprise. This could have been a movie about a new salesman joining the firm.... a new athlete joining the team... a new peace corps volunteer experiencing a foreign country... etc. It works because the experience is universal enough that we all can relate. But this movie still manages to give this plot vehicle a fresh face.
The humor was all genuine and very sympathetic, but nonetheless satisfying and effective. There was very little of the slapstick, low humor that is usually relied on in this kind of effort. Also, the movie conveys a sense of the actors' faith and mission, without ever being heavy-handed or preachy. They let you see what they do and why they do it, without bashing you over the head with it.
An additional bonus: They managed to make a movie, set in Holland, without a single reference or use of that country's proclivity for loose or kinky sexual mores. Holland was simply where the missionaries were stationed... nothing more. That must be some kind of a modern-day first.
I would encourage anyone, Mormon or not, to see this movie, if the goal is a pleasant, feel good, warm-hearted and funny two hours. That's what the movie promises, and that's what it delivers.
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