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What Would Jesus Buy? (2007)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,047 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 20 user | 40 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

An examination of the commercialization of Christmas in America while following Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from... See full summary »

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Title: What Would Jesus Buy? (2007)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Adetola Abiade ...
Alto
Paul Allen ...
Tenor
Paul Norman Allen ...
Paul
Paul Norman Allen ...
Tenor
Shannon Baxter ...
Soprano
Rick Becker ...
Trombone
James Solomon Benn ...
Choir Director / Choreographer
Reverend Billy ...
Reverend Billy
Ben Cerf ...
Bass
Misun Choi ...
Soprano
Ben Dubin-Thaler ...
Bass
Savitri Durkee ...
Church Director
Leah Farrell ...
Tenor
...
Alto
Mike Flthye ...
Drums
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Storyline

An examination of the commercialization of Christmas in America while following Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse (the end of humankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt.) The film also delves into issues such as the role sweatshops play in America's mass consumerism and Big-Box Culture. From the humble beginnings of preaching at his portable pulpit on New York City subways, to having a congregation of thousands - Bill Talen (aka Rev. Billy) has become the leader of not just a church, but a national movement. Written by Warrior Poets Releasing

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The movie Santa doesn't want you to see!


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material and brief mild language

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

16 November 2007 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,527 (USA) (16 November 2007)

Gross:

$196,990 (USA) (28 December 2007)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The Safeway (about 40 minutes into the film) identified as Oakland, is in fact in Berkeley. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Thought-provoking, if one-sided, documentary
4 November 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Reverend Billy is clearly a man on a mission: namely, to convince American consumers to tear up their credit cards and stop shopping. Since the Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, the right good reverend has taken it upon himself to preach the gospel of No Shopping to a world drowning in a sea of Madison Avenue marketing and debt. His congregation even calls itself the Church of Stop Shopping, and every Christmas season, his devoted flock fans out to local malls and shopping centers to preach against the evils of consumerism and to lead exhausted and beleaguered shoppers to redemption.

Rob VanAlkemade's "What Would Jesus Buy?" is a lively and colorful documentary that follows the CCS and its leader as they travel around the country spreading the word to the masses. In the prologue, we're informed that, whereas America "used to be a nation of producers, now we're a nation of consumers." Our savings rate stands at zero, as we groan under mounds of ever-increasing personal debt. Psychologists, in fact, estimate that 15 million Americans may be "clinically addicted" to shopping, and we're told that the nation's citizens spend five times more time shopping in stores (and now on the internet) than praying in church.

This is the situation that Reverend Billy is hell-bent on rectifying. Part religious zealot and part crowd-pleasing showman, Revered Billy is in the time-honored tradition of all those big-haired, fire-and-brimstone preachers who stand on street corners or in the pulpits of churches thunderously decrying the evils of the world and offering personal salvation – only, in his case, it's salvation from the demonic forces of wanton spending. Combining a social message with street-theater and performance art antics like singing anti-commercial Christmas carols to bemused and befuddled audiences, Reverend Billy and his minions have been arrested numerous times for invading retail stores in an attempt to bring a halt to the commerce taking place within them. At one point, they even mount an assault on the nation's ultimate shoppers' Mecca, the Mall of America, where countless pilgrims go every year to bow down and worship the almighty god of consumerism. But Reverend Billy saves his greatest opprobrium for the Walt Disney Corporation, which he sees as a false god – even going so far as refer to Mickey Mouse as his own personal antichrist - dedicated to making money at any cost, including exploiting underpaid workers in Third World countries. The movie also slams what has come to be known as the "Walmart-ization" of America, as more and more mom-and-pop retailers are driven out of business by massive corporations whose sole concern is the bottom line and, thus, have no qualms about shipping many of their jobs overseas.

This affectionate, humor-filled movie makes us complicit in the group's actions, which means we also get to be present for those rare moments of quiet reflection when the participants question just how many people they are actually converting to their creed. But far more often, we see how nothing – not overzealous security forces, not unresponsive crowd, not even a serious bus accident (at which we are present) – can dampen their commitment to their cause.

Of course, the movie, in its passion and zeal for Reverend Billy and what he is advocating, neglects to address the rather obvious counterargument that if people were to stop shopping entirely – especially at Christmas – the economy might come to a screeching halt, resulting in far-reaching harmful consequences for the nation as a whole.

Still, it's hard not to buy at least some of what "What Would Jesus Buy?" is selling.


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