Review: ‘Missionary Positions’

Two tech-savvy, California-based ministers take an unusual approach to combat online porn in "Missionary Positions," a provocative doc that suggests seriousness of purpose often is best tempered with humor. Fest exposure could generate favorable buzz, but marketing challenges could be too daunting for even the most venturesome theatrical or homevid distribs.

Two tech-savvy, California-based ministers take an unusual approach to combat online porn in “Missionary Positions,” a provocative doc that suggests seriousness of purpose often is best tempered with humor. Much like its subjects, however, the pic may be hard-pressed to attract sympathetic auds, because its idiosyncratic mix of zealousness and frat-boy mischievousness may be off-putting. Fest exposure could generate favorable buzz, but marketing challenges could be too daunting for even the most venturesome theatrical or homevid distribs.

Ordained ministers Mike Foster and Craig Gross come across as deeply committed and casually cheeky in their efforts to start antiporn Web site xxxchurch.com. Unfortunately, as helmer Bill Day briskly documents, the duo’s fight-fire-with-fire technique is widely misunderstood by many members of the media and, worse, the Christian right. (When ministers defend their “missionary work” at a convention for porn merchants as something Jesus would do, televangelist Pat Robinson angrily cancels an on-air interview with pair.) Web site offers comfort and counsel to men — and, much to the ministers’ surprise, women — addicted to online porn. But harrowing testimonies by recovering addicts don’t mesh with the pic’s more broadly comical elements.

Missionary Positions

Production

A Smiling Zebra Pictures production. Produced, directed and edited by Bill Day.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Day, Jason Harwell, Craig Nelson, Tracey Durning, Jason Harwell; music, Javier De La Joya. Reviewed at Nashville Film Festival, April 20, 2005. Running time: 73 MIN.

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