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Film review: 'Believe' is too light on laughs

Comedy tries to be LDS equivalent of faux documentaries

Published: Friday, April 20 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

BELIEVE — * 1/2 — Larry Bagby, Lincoln Hoppe; rated PG (violence, vulgarity, mild profanity).

"Believe," a locally produced "mockumentary," is too heavy on the mocking and too light on the laughs.

The comedy clearly aims to be the LDS equivalent of filmmaker Christopher Guest's mocking but affectionate faux documentaries, such as "Waiting for Guffman," "Best in Show" and last year's "For Your Consideration."

But "Believe" is actually more like another local film, the largely forgotten "The Work and the Story," which was so dull that it nearly defied categorization as a comedy.

"Believe" pokes fun at multilevel marketing and stars Larry Bagby, from "Saints and Soldiers" and "Walk the Line." He plays Adam Pendon, a dump-truck driver who's out of work now that the local steel mill has closed. With bills piling up and other domestic concerns, Adam is considering his future employment options.

One of those options is to work with Mark Fuller (Lincoln Hoppe), a gung-ho multilevel marketer. And while Adam remains a bit skeptical, Mark's higher-ups see something in the new blue-collar recruit that they think they can exploit.

To be fair, "Believe" is better shot and constructed than several of the most recent local films, and it does have several recognizable actors in both prominent roles and cameos — among them Craig Clyde, Kirby Heyborne, Curt Dousett, Ch. 4 newsmen Terry Wood and Dan Rascone, and musician Ryan Shupe.

The film subscribes to the "Singles Ward" comedy formula, where cameos and LDS or other local in-jokes are supposed to be inherently funny. Note to screenwriter/director Loki Mulholland: They're not.

And Hoppe's performance as Mark is so frantic that it becomes painful to watch him flailing away. On the other end of the spectrum, the more sedate Bagby escapes with his dignity intact. But barely.

"Believe" is rated PG for some brief violence (protesting and a violent apprehension), as well as some mildly vulgar humor and mild profanity (religiously based). Running time: 78 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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