The Home Teachers
The Home Teachers
Brother Parker is the anal, uptight, uber-TBM Mormon who has to get his home teaching done, every month, 100% of the time. Brother Blazer, on the other hand, is the “every-male-Mormon” who fails to see much importance in the home teaching program and would rather spend every spare minute of his time watching football or other sports on his massive home TV/theater system.
The movie begins as an Elder’s Quorum meeting wraps up. Brother Parker is taking meticulous notes on his PDA and laptop. Brother Blazer is fidgeting in the back of the room, hoping they’ll get out early so he can get home in time for that day’s big game. Agonizing through B. Parker’s closing Prayer, B. Blazer breaks for home as soon as the amen sounds. Snatching kids left and right, B. Blazer jumps in his (gas guzzling without regard for the rest of the world) SUV only to be stopped by B. Parker, who has to let him know they are now home teaching companions and, even though it’s the 31st, they still have time to do their teaching for that month. B. Blazer tells him to get back to him, then jettisons from the parking lot.
B. Parker calls B. Blazer later and tells him that he already set up all of their visits for that day. B. Blazer does what he can to get out of it, but to no avail (his Molly Mormon wife pushes him out of the house, kicking and screaming). What follows is about an hour and 20 minutes of the most improbable mishaps you can imagine: B. Blazer floods one house, ruining the house, the mother’s wedding dress, and their Sunday dinner; he then ruins a funeral they decide to (completely implausibly) attend in Vernal on the spur of the moment (remember, this is the same day); the trip to Vernal ends with B. Parker and B. Blazer wrecking B. Parker’s mother-in-law’s car off a cliff, followed by a bizarre hunting sequence that includes the requisite jab at non-Mormons (depicted, this time, as rednecks who, quite literally, are wearing the fake redneck teeth you buy during Halloween); B & B are then picked up by carjacking non-Mormons (’cause all non-Mormons are evil), only to be saved by a wacky, Mormon highway patrolman.
With most of the wackiness out of the way, B. Parker and B. Blazer eventually make it back home (somewhere in the Wasatch Front) only to realize they have one more visit to make. They go to an elderly lady’s home and try to breeze through it. It’s at this point that B. Blazer has his (over-the-top) character arc and realizes that home teaching can be helpful. He decides to double-check with the woman and finds out her dog died. They end up spending several hours there and all turns out well.
On the way home, B. Parker reveals that maybe he is too anal and that may be why his wife stayed in Texas when he moved to Utah. Presto, change-o, he has his character arc as well, and all turns out well in Never Never Mormonlandia.
I’m not sure why I continue watching these Mollywood films. It must be a form of masochism, ’cause it truly is torture to watch these. Anyway, watch them I do.
I really liked B. Blazer before his character arc. He may have still “believed” in the teachings of Mormonism, but he felt like other things were more important – even football. He was bored by the tedium of an incredibly intrusive, restrictive, quotidian religion. Honestly, who wouldn’t be? If you’ve never been bored during a Mormon meeting there is simply something wrong with you – honestly, you should go get checked out by a psychiatrist, because there are no more boring meetings on the planet than Mormon meetings (ask a Mormon; if they’re honest they’ll admit it).
Granted, B. Blazer’s honesty in being bored is exaggerated. And, I do need to admit that the idea behind home teaching is a good one – neighbors watching out for neighbors (though it is exclusive to Mormons, which means you’re overlooked if you’re not a member of the club). But the movie, while poking fun, does hit at the core of the problem: at least 80% of the people who receive regular home teaching visits absolutely don’t need them and don’t want them. It’s just one more busy-work task the leadership of the religion assigns its members to keep them too preoccupied to meet non-Mormons or study their religion (either of which might lead them to reconsider their affiliation). B. Parker and B. Blazer seem to draw closer to this understanding by the end of the movie in their terrible character arcs, but they still miss the point – they shouldn’t shoot for 100% visits but rather for 100% NEEDED visits and just visit the elderly lady who needs company and not the other young couples who have more important things to do.
Okay, so ranting about home teaching aside, the biggest strike against this movie is the absurd story. Even if the home teachers lived in Provo or somewhere near there, there is no way they could have trekked to Vernal (with numerous pitstops on the way) in the short afternoon they had, gave a lesson at the funeral, ruined the funeral, and then got lost on a backroad and still had any day light left. But in the movie they still had a good three or four hours of daylight – enough time to be hunted by rednecks and picked up by carjackers. All that, and they still made their 8:00 appointment back home. Yeah, right. So, the story is ridiculously implausible. I’ll give them the wacky stuff in the interest of (attempted) humor (i.e., broken toilets, ruined funeral, dog burial, etc.), but they don’t get a pass on the unnecessarily absurd.
Speaking of which, the carjacking and hunting, completely unnecessary. The whole subplot about the mother-in-law’s car being destroyed was also unnecessary. And the home teachers having to take the mounted deer head home is not a convincing set up for the 30 minutes of filler in the middle of the movie. This story could have been and should have been told in 1 hour, with all the junk in the middle cut out.
There was one redeeming character in the movie, B. Blazer’s daughter (or maybe daughters, but at least one of them had the right idea). She was “wise beyond her years.” For instance, B. Blazer didn’t bless his food. His wife insisted that the rest of the family do so. One of the daughters asked the perfect question, “Is dad going to get sick for not blessing his food?” The answer from the preening mother, “No.” The daughter, again, was right on when she replied, “Then why bother?” But they did it anyway. If all the time spent praying over food was spent preparing healthier food, maybe Mormons would actually receive some health benefits from their food (praying for it to be healthy doesn’t make the calories go away) and maybe they wouldn’t be heavier than non-Mormons? The daughter also recommended that B. Blazer fake an injury to get out of home teaching… An idea he tries, but fails to carry through. The daughter seemed to see the absurdity of it all. No one else did. I sense the presence of a future apostate!
There were a few other moments in the video that were humorous. At one point B. Blazer describes the scriptures on CD (which is what B. Parker sells) as “the sound of hell.” Never a truer statement was said (though Twain’s “chloroform in print” comes awfully close). B. Blazer also knows his scriptural defenses, that if you don’t do something with real intent, it doesn’t profit you in the end (granted, I think any argument based on scripture is hogwash to begin with), but I have to admit I remember thinking that exact thing more times than I care to admit (a lot, a lot, a lot). Finally, I think this last incident was intended to poke fun, but I’m not sure… B. Parker claims he forewent a scholarship at Yale because he thought BYU was better. I hope that was truly meant to mock the idea that BYU is better than Yale. BYU-Provo is better than at least one school, BYU-Idaho, but that’s not saying much. That’s like saying BYU-Provo is better than high school. (Okay, I’m just kidding here; I know a lot of professors at BYU and they do really good work. Even so, it’s not Yale… Mormons need to stop kidding themselves on this.)
Overall, I think I’m going to have to extend Richard Dutcher’s argument that movies like these are destroying Mormon cinema. He argues that they don’t take Mormonism seriously and that they aren’t art but poor forms of entertainment. While that is certainly true, there is a more compelling argument to be made. Movies like The Home Teachers take an element of Mormonism and mock it relentlessly (in this case, Home Teaching). They then try to turn the mockery into an object lesson in the end. I’m not Richard Dutcher and I no longer feel a connection to Mormonism like he does. That frees me up to see the slightly less obvious – that mocking ideas for object lessons lies at the heart of Mormonism. The mockery isn’t generally humorous, but it is absurd. The idea of caring after your neighbors is a good one. But Mormonism turns it into a burdensome duty for club members only. The idea of spending time with family is also a good one. But, again, Mormonism mocks this idea by claiming it is pro-family but then mandating far too many meetings and too much time spent in church and not enough time with family. The formula of these movies is not at all surprising because it reflects Mormonism – mock the good, miss the point, take things way too far, then claim there is something good in all of that. Mormonism in a nutshell.
Overall… The acting is awful, the script and story are terrible, the character arcs are absurd, and the cinematography is cheap and full of low-budget gags, but… the film quality is acceptable and the sound mastering is okay.
Do I recommend The Home Teachers? No. But I’m going to keep watching these Mollywood monstrosities. They say a lot about Mormonism, just not what their creators intend to say.