Playing God, This week’s episode of “Good Actors, Much less Than Excellent Script” opens with Alan Tudyk in a tent with a face-painted man, seeming to reenact a scene from Ken Russell’s “Altered States.” Turning visibly sick upon consuming some sort of hallucinogenic potion, he says “This isn’t fairly the non-secular awakening I used to be in search of.” After which keels over.
After a gap credit score sequence with typeface, credit score order, and structure that counsel early Wes Anderson—and hey, what are you aware, the cityscapes beneath the title let you know this image was shot in Houston, the place Anderson grew up—this film, written and directed by Scott Brignac, introduces its most important gamers. Hannah Kasulka and Luke Benward, enticing actors who, I predict, might be steered towards Hallmark films by their brokers within the not-too-distant future, play Rachel and Micah (it’s maybe no accident that they’re given Biblical names, individuals). Fraternal twins and low-level con artists, they work grifts from you (the mark that’s)-had-it-coming selection (charming avenue musician is mugged and loses her guitar!) to the extra actively despicable (pretend youngsters’ charity with the added distraction of faux friendship). Micah, the extra aggressive/bold of the 2, acquired $100,000 on one in every one of his cons. The downside is, his mark is now onto the twins, is a psychopath, and desires double his reimbursement.
So the youngsters should swing for the fences simply to remain alive. That’s the place Tudyk’s character, referred to the duo by some sort of Mark Referral Service, is available in. His Ben is a self-made millionaire who’s misplaced his household and, after a number of failed non-secular awakenings, has taken to going to Houston church buildings and drunkenly haranguing the Almighty. He’s acquired a protected in his mansion. Micah hatches a daring plan: to really introduce Ed to God.
The twins enlist their former prison mentor—the venerable position of the man who taught the crooks the whole lot they know—Frank (Michael McKean), recently out of jail and again working his curler rink. Having bought Ed on the crackpot talk-to-God thought, they purchase an intimidating go well with for Frank and prep him for some severe Dressing-Down-Job motion. One of many first issues Frank tells Ed in God mode is “I discover your lack of religion disturbing.” I understood that reference!
The premise right here isn’t unpromising however the execution—certainly the entire aesthetic—is one thing like “The Grifters”-Lite. The script teems with exposition clunkers like “We have to achieve his belief” and pretty glib character dynamics. As such, we simply know that Rachel is the half of the pair that’s going to bear qualms of conscience, if solely as a result of Rachel’s the one half that has any ostensible social relations exterior their bubble.
Micah drops his most stomach-churning suggestion—that Rachel impersonates the lifeless daughter for whom Ed consistently grieves—earlier than a plot reveals that, upon mere seconds of reflection, renders the con artists’ actions up thus far nonsensical. After which it’s downhill to “this wasn’t a part of the plan.”
The film’s ending, with a scriptural bow that underscores these Biblical names, means that what Brignac was after has not an excessive amount of to do with what ended up on display: a parable of forgiveness with real theological heft. I may need to love that film higher. I reckon Tudyk and McKean may need as effectively.
Now enjoying in theaters and obtainable on digital platforms.