DVD Review - The Catechism Cataclysm

Robert Longstreet (left) and
Steve Little in "The Catechism Cataclysm"
Even though it was one of a small number of films last year that deserved to be seen in 3D, I saw A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas on DVD in 2D, as it was released the same month as this one. As I tend to do, I saw similarities, this time between that stoner comedy and The Catechism Cataclysm. Both are basically buddy movies between two guys who are supposed to be friends, but their friendship is tested, as they embark on a ridiculous journey where nothing goes right.

Instead of running around Manhattan, the guys here are paddling a canoe on some river near Seattle. The Catechism Cataclysm doesn't show as many naked breasts and it doesn't have Neil Patrick Harris or a WaffleBot, but it does have vastly more interesting characters whose humor does derive from their personalities and their dialogue and not just dick jokes.

Steve Little (Eastbound & Down) stars as Father Billie Smoortser, a young priest who loves telling stories and who loves hearing stories, often stories that have no relevance to what he's doing or to any situation and topic at hand. Instead of studying the catechism, which are his religion's fundamental principles, Billie prefers to watch funny YouTube videos and listen to heavy metal music.

One particular heavy metal musician who is his favorite is a guy named Robbie Shoemaker, played by Robert Longstreet. It just so happens that Robbie used to be the boyfriend of Billie's sister many, many years ago, or so Billie says. Billie seems to have this notion of Robbie that bears no resemblance to reality. Billie thinks that Robbie is a bigger rock star than he is.

Robbie is instead a guy not unlike many who peaked in high school, who had a dream of being a great artist, but who had to settle for a mundane life in the shadow of all that. It's what could be called the Al Bundy syndrome. Robbie might have been a bit more comfortable in his life until Billie stirs up old feelings.

At first, Billie comes off as a crazed fan, a groupie, almost obsessive and delusional. Being a priest and living somewhat of a cloistered life, it's obviously just an innocence that is so uncommon to most people, certainly to someone who could or would be a heavy metal rock star. Billie's enthusiasm is in stark contrast to Robbie's laid back nature. Steve Little's performance of that enthusiasm is so infectious that much like Robbie the audience goes along with him on the canoe trip.

Billie takes a break from his catechism studies and takes Robbie on a beer and canoe excursion. Things go wrong and spoiler alert it ends with a crazed doofus running through the woods with a story that is too unbelievable, even to see. It exemplifies the end song whose lyrics are "God will fuck you up."

It's book-ended with Billie telling some pretty insane stories, but all throughout Robbie tells a series of stories that have a level of insanity that grows. Each also has a level of Twilight Zone-ish to them as well. However, each one is incredibly hilarious and clever. Writer-director Todd Rohal (The Guatemalan Handshake) does veer into wacky and practically surreal territory by the end, but, at that point, you're so taken with Billie that it didn't bother me.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 15 mins.


Popular Posts