McLean Mail

Mockumentary on Youth Ministry Struggles to Find Its Footing



Genre: Comedy
Year Released: 2018
Runtime: 1h 19m
Director(s): Arielle Cimino, Jeff Ryan
Writer(s): Christopher O’Connell
Cast: Jeff Ryan, Tori Grace Hines, Matthew Perusse, Jill Rogati, Geena Santiago, Luke Deardorff, Will Martin, Grace Ulrich, Carl Schultz, Amelia Hass, Taylor Jones, Matt Schwabauer, Brett Johnson, Corey Hines
Where To Watch: streaming free on Peacock (with ads)

RAVING REVIEW: YOUTHMIN, a film that spotlights David Bauer (Jeff Bauer) as an enthusiastic yet egocentric youth pastor, aims to leave a positive impression on teenagers' lives—unfortunately, his entire persona is out of touch and goes against his goals.

The film relies heavily on stereotypes, specifically with the outdated actions and looks of Pastor D. His mounting competitiveness, likely sparked by concerns about being replaced, is the main focus of the mockumentary (that at times forgets its core.)

On a shoestring budget, YOUTHMIN is an homage to the teen movies of the 90s. They were casting adults to play teenagers in an almost meta attempt at humor. The acting is all over the place; some play their roles perfectly while others struggle to keep pace.

In preparation for Bible Camp, David rallies his six-member youth group, emphasizing the significance of winning camp contests. He believes that victory will result in respect for both him and Jesus among the youngsters. However, David's plan derails when Rachel, a compassionate and empathetic female co-pastor, arrives at the church, igniting his jealousy as the teens gravitate toward her.

YOUTHMIN tries to strike a balance between a cynical and tender portrayal of a particular profession and subculture. The film critiques the youth ministry model while allowing room for character development within a straightforward narrative structure. This movie has a specific audience and will likely be a miss if you can’t connect with this world. The comedy is particular to the subculture, so it tends to be deeper than the surface level.

Though YOUTHMIN could use more humor and awkward moments, it still elicits the occasional chuckle and feel-good scene. As the climactic Battle of the Worship Bands approaches, David places all hope on his teens' ability to seize the coveted victory.

In conclusion, YOUTHMIN is, at times, cleverly executed but has such a core focus that a general audience may not see its appeal. The script introduces various youth group stereotypes, culminating in an engaging and humorous viewing experience, but it doesn’t have enough consistency to make it a must-see. Despite budgetary limitations and sporadic dips in comedy, the film delivers a heartwarming story of well-intentioned plans gone wrong and the hope that can be found in even the most unlikely situations.


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[photo courtesy of FIRST NAME FILMS]