Here’s the story, nutshelled: John Miller (Kirk Cameron) is an affable, loving family man who runs a scrap yard that he inherited from his father. He has a beautiful and wonderful wife, played by real-life spouse Chelsea Noble, and two kids, the precocious pre-teen daughter, and the rambunctious son with a passion for baseball. Cameron is under fire from the evil local government city council that wants to take over his scrap business via a barrage of environmental regulations and taxes, and simultaneously, his son is struggling to find his place on his little league team. Other notable characters are comedian Tim Hawkins, who is basically the Christian Weird Al, as Miller’s brother, and former MMA fighter Bas Rutten (!) as the little league coach.
Over the course of the film, Cameron has innumerable cheesy, treacly conversations with his wife where she tells him how great he is, gets to make grand sweeping generalizations about government regulation, argues with his dipshit brother, and eventually has a Mr. Smith Goes To Washington moment in front of his local city council where he wins the day, saves his business from the evil gubment oppressors, and buys everyone ice cream (yes, really). Meanwhile, his son — the film’s parallel plotline — learns about teamwork and being an all-around good guy from his coach, his father, and his wacky uncle.
It is — and I say this without any hyperbole whatsovever — the most boring movie I’ve ever seen in my life. I conned my wife into watching it with me by cooking her dinner and buying her wine, and making her think it would be hilarious. It wasn’t. It was dreadful, and dull and soporific and stupid. It was trench warfare to get through it — long and brutal and painful, an unending agony rife with cliche and saccharine dialogue with absolutely zero value. 20 minutes into the film, we wanted to die. Cameron vowed that this film would bring families together — I was worried my wife was going to divorce me for subjecting her to it. And let’s remember, she sat through Sharktopus and The Human Centipede with me. But this was infinitely worse — in several ways — than either of those.
Taking out all of the Christian-themed elements, it’s still awful. I realize that I’m not the audience for the film, but it’s a terrible movie in literally every way that a film can be terrible. Acting, directing, cinematography, editing, writing, dialogue, production, sound, everything. Every single person involved in making this film should be poked with sharp sticks until they vow to leave the industry forever.
So. Here is a list, in handy bullet points, of everything you need to know about the film. Bear in mind, this was originally going to be a real-time review except that it was so goddamn boring, there was nothing worth writing.
— Cameron’s studio is called “Hero 4 Baby Studios.” I do not know what that means. Mrs. TK assumed it referred to the baby Jesus. Because Jesus.
— At one point, Cameron’s character says that he’s proud of never taking a government subsidy, “like God and George Washington intended.” BECAUSE JESUS.
— The film opens with a five-minute narration about his scrap metal business, and then a little league game in slow-motion (this will become a thing), and then him and his kids throwing grapefruits at each other. But, Cameron says, “it isn’t all grapefruit fights and laughing at the table.” That is an actual line of dialogue in a movie.
— In his wife’s eyes, his greatest sin — the one that fills her with outrage and makes her storm off angrily — is that he thinks about smoking sometimes. NOT THAT HE SMOKES, BUT THAT HE SOMETIMES THINKS ABOUT IT.
— There is a single minority in the film, and he has no spoken lines. As Mrs. TK says, “Aw, everyone’s so white and pretty in Jesus Land!”
— I would say, conservatively, that roughly 50% of the film is done in slow motion. Hand to God. My wife noted that if we could just skip the slow motion, the film would be an hour long. As it stands, it’s two horrific, brain-deadening hours. And yes, we watched all of it.
— There is also more lens flare than an Abrams Star Trek movie. However, it’s done so artlessly that most of the lens-flarey shots are just blinding light, obscuring almost everything on the screen. It’s baffling.
— Of the 50% that isn’t in slow motion, roughly 30% of that is pensive stares into the middle distance, without any dialogue.
— At one point, there is a 10 minute scene where Cameron and the evil government “eco-lobbyist” argue about hazardous waste subsidies. For 15 minutes. In a movie that you’re supposed to watch with your family.
— Seriously, I need to talk more about the slow motion. It’s bizarre and relentless, like the director went to the Zack Snyder School and just went bananas. There’s an entire baseball game filmed in slow motion. Slow motion walking. Slow motion eating. Slow motion pensive staring. Slow motion commuting to work. SLOW MOTION PANCAKE-MAKING.
— The women in the film serve no purpose other than support roles. Literally all they do is offer dutiful support to their husbands/brothers/fathers. That’s it.
— In fact, Chelsea Noble — again, Cameron’s real-life wife — is only ever seen speaking to either him or her son. I’m not joking. She literally has no dialogue with anyone else in the film. She does not exist outside of the viewpoints of her son and husband. This is doubly interesting because apparently, when Cameron was in the film Fireproof, Noble was brought in as a “kissing double” for his romance scene, because he refused to kiss anyone except his wife, even on film. This is supposed to be charming and romantic. It is, in fact, psychotic.
— The tagline for the film is “There’s No Quit In Family” which makes absolutely no sense. At one point, when discussing leadership, Cameron uses the phrase “like the champion of the army” which also makes no sense. This is the kind of awkwardly written, rote turn of phrase that peppers the entire film.
I wanted this to be a funny and clever review of a silly, misguided family film. That is not possible. Because there’s no value to Mercy Rule, either comedic or otherwise. It’s garbage. One hour and fifty-seven minutes of syrupy-sweet, artless, clumsily executed, fundamentalist anti-government propagandist garbage. Cameron — who is anti-choice, anti-gay rights, anti-women’s rights, anti-everything except Jesus — has ham-fistedly created a thinly veiled fundamentalist bucket of goat shit. I hate myself for watching it. I hate myself for making my wife sit through it, even though I gave her an escape hatch after 30 minutes. But she soldiered through it, which shows that regardless of what Cameron says about his lovely devoted wife, mine kicks her ass all day, every day. This is the worst thing I’ve ever done for this site. I hate everything right now, except for my wife.
In short, fuck Kirk Cameron.