Let There Be Light review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Kevin Sorbo probably thought there was more to his Atheist villain character in the 2014’s God’s Not Dead to give him a second chance in Let There Be Light. In Sorbo’s directorial debut, he transforms the evil Atheist into a born-again Christian that becomes inspired from a near-death experience to renounce his war on God. If you thought the Atheist deathbed recant in God’s Not Dead was goofy, you may get a kick out of seeing how ludicrous he takes this concept to the next level in the most laughable of Christploitation I’ve seen (and the bar has already been set pretty high for unintentional hilarity).
Sorbo plays a famous Atheist book writer and debater, who relishes in spitting in God’s non-existent face with a smile. He has an ex-wife with two sons and is constantly bickering with her about faith. Sure, he pays the bills, but there are emotional bills as well (her words, not mine). But then a car crash changes everything. Sorbo is treated to a soapy vision of heaven where his dead son, dressed in a white robe that glows, says he should return to Earth and talk about Jesus. Given the pathos that forms his skepticism, he jumps at the chance to switch teams. Such a shift would seem like it would be a rocky path for such a popular Atheist.
But, no, turning to Christianity is so easy! Once he starts accepting the word of Jesus, everything takes a remarkable turn. His relationship with his ex-wife magically turns cheerful and their romance is rekindled practically overnight. His plucky kids start loving him again. But let’s go further! Not only does he fully embrace Christianity, but also stage a worldwide event on Christmas to let everyone know the good word of Christ. And just in case that wasn’t crazy enough, Sean Hannity guest stars to offer Fox News as the platform for the event. Wow, Christianity works wonders!
While Kevin Sorbo is perhaps the most convincing, the other low-tier actors stand as the sorest of thumbs with a script that is already bleeding with cartoonish exaggeration. The author’s wife is seen as the Christian voice of reason that has to say with a straight face to her ex-husband “there are emotional bills to pay.” Their kids are so awkwardly placed that their few attempts at comic relief come off with the same cringe of a slapped together school play. The most ridiculous of characters is easily Sorbo’s agent that tries so hard to appear metropolitan he slings “darling” more than even the most Wilde of gay men would ever dare speak. No complaints about Sean Hannity; he’s perfectly suited playing himself with all his blowhard beliefs front and center, locked and loaded for that culture war he never shuts up about.
To the defensive Christian who believes the Fox News style generalization that my distaste of the film is a hatred of the baby Jesus, I implore you to consider how on the nose this film is with its “so there” writing. Think carefully; when was the last time someone made an earnest attempt to rekindle a marriage by offering a romantic dinner at Chick-fil-A? The only reason Chick-fil-A is even present in this picture is the same reason that Fox News play such a heavy role; its a brand the favors their values. Fair enough, but there’s absurdist insistence on these inclusions as if to stick it to the Atheists with product placement that caters to Christian whims. But I’ve yet to find an Atheist-centric film where marriages are rekindled at Trader Joes and the day is saved by The Young Turks. If you know of such a movie, please let me know so I can laugh at it as much as I did this film.
Perhaps the most tiring aspect of the film is its blatant call to arms to spread the good word of Christ. As is the tradition with God’s Not Dead, the movie ends with a special hashtag for you to write on your social media accounts. Maybe someone will see it and their lives will be changed. More likely, however, a younger person will see the hashtag and think what weird Christploitaiton picture has mom been watching now.