May 10th, 2014
04:00 AM ET

The next chapter in faith films: comedy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Contributing Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(CNN) - A new movie genre debuts at the box office this weekend: the Christian comedy.

"Moms’ Night Out" starring Patricia Heaton and Sean Astin is opening on more than 1,000 screens, and it aims to do something no other Christian major motion picture has endeavored to do: make you laugh. On purpose.

There has been no shortage of laughably bad Christian movies. "Left Behind," anyone?

From “The Passion of the Christ,” to “Fireproof,” to “Courageous,” the genre has historically leaned heavily on biblical epics and inspiration to stir the faithful, or evangelical fare designed convert the masses.

But "Moms’ Night Out" is entirely different, a PG-rated comedy about the hijinks of middle-class Christian families, ordinary folks living ordinary lives. Astin called the movie "ballsy" for focusing on this demographic.

"Middle-class Christian families in America have every right to have their lives reflected on film," Astin said. "A lot of people will look at this movie and wouldn't see it as evangelical polemic."

In the film, three moms, played by Sarah Drew, Andrea Logan White and Heaton, need a break from diapers and messes and teenagers - never mind the societal pressure of being a perfect Christian parent. Desperate for a night out, they hit the town only to have their plans foiled by a missing baby, a car chase, their husbands, and cops with a Taser.  There are laughs, there are tears and there is a bright hopeful message for parents: God loves you even in your imperfections and you are not alone.

Heaton said, “It’s nice to have this perspective because raising kids is sort of an unsung job. We need to constantly remember what an important job that is, because it’s not glamorous and it’s repetitive and it can be really difficult. ... To get through the toddler, baby stage is really hard. You’re exhausted. So I think this movie is going to be really encouraging to some people.”

Only at the end of the movie do you realize there were no sex jokes, no romps through strip clubs, and no crass profanity - bread and butter for success comedies in the last decade. (Or even this same weekend, as the raunchy “Neighbors” hits theaters, too.)

“Moms’ Night Out” is squeaky-clean family fun. And TriStar Pictures and its imprint AFFIRM films are betting there is a vast, untapped audience of people - just like the ones on the screen - hungry for this type of film.

But unlike other films with more direct Christian messages, churches are much less likely to buy out theaters in bulk as they did for "Son of God" and "God's Not Dead," a move that brought those films big returns at the box office.

Not to mention, “Moms’ Night Out” has already taken heat from Christian reviewers who complained it is not Christian enough and secular reviewers who said it was unfunny and anti-feminist.

“We went in with eyes wide open and recognized this is uncharted territory," said Rich Peluso, senior vice president of AFFIRM Films.

A string of hits

Faithy films have paid off big this year at the box office. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's re-edit of their History Channel miniseries "Son of God" took in $60 million. "God's Not Dead," decried by critics as campy, was a hit with the people who matter most to studios - ticket purchasers. The film has brought in $55 million. Not bad for a movie with a $2 million budget, and Kevin Sorbo and the "Duck Dynasty" guys on the marquee.

Then there is "Heaven is for Real," which was produced in part by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes and stars Greg Kinnear. The film took in $67 million, a surprise hit that was buoyed in part by a built-in audience familiar with the bestselling book the movie is based on.

CNN Belief: Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

"Noah" had Academy Award-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) and a massive $125 million budget, but was a bust with Christian audiences domestically. The biblical epic made only $99 million in the U.S. but was hit on overseas, where it took in $230 million.

"Moms’ Night Out" is hoping to catch this rising tide, but the challenges facing the film are great.

Funny is hard

“I think they’re up against a big wall," said Kerri Pomarolli, a comedian living in Los Angeles.

"The same people who are watching 'Mom’s Night Out' are secretly Netflixing [R-rated comedy fare like] 'Identity Theft' and 'This is 40,’” she joked.

But Pomarolli knows this audience well. She is a mother and Christian who plays her comedy act clean and has appeared everywhere from “The Tonight Show” to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“It’s a challenge to write clean,” she said, because “you just want to be funny.”

She calls this film a "valiant effort," and has written a tie-in devotional book to the film for Christian moms.

“The audiences are conditioned to laugh at dirty stuff. They can’t even do innuendo. That crowd would have judged them if they had anything even remotely naughty.”

For this film to be a hit it will actually need to be funny to a wide audience, said Kutter Callaway, a professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

"Part of what is necessary for humor, and why Christians do it so bad, is there needs to be a tension there. There needs to be something dark or a tragic that makes life funny,” he said.

“Christians struggle with humor just like they struggle with how to posture themselves with anything that is dark or provocative,” he said.

Co-directors Andy and Jon Erwin look on as Sean Astin and Kevin Downes rehearse a scene for 'Moms' Night Out.'

Christian filmmakers have a tendency to scrub the darkness and focus on the light, Callaway said. "Because this film is coming from a Christian perspective … you worry about the comedy getting neutered. ... Christians still need it to be funny and not trite.”

That tension between faith and funny may not be an impossible hurdle for the film, according to Craig Detweiler, a filmmaker and communications professor at Pepperdine University who has worked with studios on direct marketing to churches.

"I think it will surprise people who tend to associate Christianity with roots in tragedy instead of comedy," he said. "But Jesus was known for his parables that ended in punch lines. He was pretty good with zingers.”

Jesus was fond of calling the Pharisees a “brood of vipers,” plus his style as a traveling preacher was to teach in stories, or parables, that needed to stick in the minds of his audience.

“These films are succeeding because it’s a huge, underserved market just looking for what the title says, a mom’s night out. Kind of a light, bright, inspiring picture. If you can offer that to this audience I think they’ll respond,” Detweiler said.  “It’s brilliant to actually try to appeal to mothers. It’s so rare to have mom as the hero.”

Making Moms work

Unlike other independent films in which big names are ridden into the ground like a sweaty mule, shoehorned into every possible scene in the movie, "Moms’ Night Out” has an ensemble cast - an amazing feat for a film with a budget just under $5 million, according to Andrew and John Erwin, the brothers who directed the film.

"We wanted a very strong ensemble," Jon Erwin said. "The cast, I can't believe we got them for what we had," his brother Andrew said.

Heaton, Astin and country music super star Trace Atkins blend in seamlessly with other less familiar actors.

"When you show something to someone they didn’t know existed - the family-friendly clean comedy - the talent just flocked. It was a matter of getting them to read it and they were in,” Peluso said. "Everyone felt comfortable with what this picture was and the resources available.”

White plays a supporting role in the film as one of the hip young moms in the trio out for the night. As a Christian and mom of three who attends a non-denominational church in West Lake, California, White said the movie hit home for her.

"Nobody tells you how hard it is to be a mom and wife. Nobody tells you how hard it is. Especially as a Christian, you’re supposed to act like you have it all together,” she said. “There’s so many of us that want to raise our kids in the way of the Lord and feel like we put ourselves last.”

Sarah Drew and Sean Astin together in the Christian comedy "Moms' Night Out."

White said their goal with the film was “to encourage women and encourage families and bring them to a closer relationship to God and to be able to feel supported.”

“There’s definitely an audience. There’s so many people in this country that want to see a clean comedy,” she said.

Astin, who plays a husband and father in the film, said working on the project made him examine his own life. "Truth is that everyone has feelings of self-doubt (and) anxiety. To have a movie like this to spend time with is, I think, really refreshing for a lot of moviegoers."

 Selling the movie

Even feel-good movies have to make money in Hollywood.

AFFIRM said this film has all the makings to be a hit, based on a business model they have honed over the past decade with movies targeted to Christians and early screenings of this film.

“We’re very confident, based on the fact we’ve screened it for 10,000 people," Peluso said.

Advanced ticket sales for the film were strong leading into the weekend.

Peluso added in some cases, those 1,000 screens where the film will run this weekend were picked based on how other faith-centered movies like “Soul Surfer” had performed.“We spent a lot of time down to the local, granular level, screen by screen.” They have also heavily marketed the film to moms groups and churches.

Despite bad press reviews, the movie has screened incredibly well with that vast, untapped audience Peluso believes the film can reach.

"The only review I care about is the people who were standing in line 90 minutes before with a $10 bill in their hand,” Peluso said.

Astin, whose career includes roles in iconic films from “The Goonies” to “Lord of Rings,” said this film is the one people will appreciate most.

"I promise you this, this movie will live for years in the hearts and minds of the community it's aimed at," Astin said. "People will come up to me for years, a million times, everywhere I go, and tell me, 'I’ve been waiting for this kind of movie forever. Thank you for making it.'"

CNN's Daniel Burke and Topher Gauk-Roger contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Faith • Media • Money & Faith • United States

soundoff (404 Responses)
  1. Science Works

    And some of the best comedy script can be found here on the CNN belief blog.

    May 11, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      "death is unnatual" – topher/gopher

      May 12, 2014 at 6:28 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        I sincerely hope he doesn't tell his child that.

        May 12, 2014 at 7:19 am |
        • colin31714

          Can you imagine how scre.wed up that poor innocent little child will be. He will be totally infused with Toper's 6,000 year old Earth views before he even gets to middle school science, natural history, geology and biology.

          May 12, 2014 at 8:59 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Topher mentioned before the babe was born that he doesn't believe they teach evolution in schools. He also said they are planning to homeschool...in this situation and many other hard-core creationist situations, homeschooling shouldn't be allowed for fear of the real science not being taught.

          May 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  2. mattd44

    Too many of the people who will scoff at this flick are EXACTLY what it portrays.

    May 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
    • midwest rail

      You mean like people who use the word "gay" as a pejorative ?

      May 11, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
  3. thatinthebible

    I thought this post was about Christian humor, not Atheist humor... go figure...

    Yes, I do believe that Christians can make funny movies.

    I'm currently blogging about the subject of successful Bible-based Hollywood produced films at isthatinthebible.com

    May 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
    • In Santa We Trust

      The point of this blog is to blog here.

      May 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
    • fintronics

      Check out "The Life Of Brian" .... very funny.

      May 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
  4. unsername1

    ..... a giant "boulder barrels toward church, but then stops six inches from the church wall? What made boulder changed its mind, God or Newton's law of friction?

    May 11, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
    • colin31714

      the same thing that made it barrel toward the church in the first place. If it was god, he decided to set it in motion then stop it just in time. Doesn't make a lot of sense.

      May 12, 2014 at 9:03 am |
      • gulliblenomore

        It makes perfect sense to a person that believes the earth is only 6000 years old, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

        May 12, 2014 at 9:06 am |
        • colin31714

          Those who believe in miracles normally believe that nature was doing its thing and then God intervened, superman like, at the last minute, to save the day, by stopping the rock, making the tornado miss the trailer park or by curing the cancer. In other words, they take a set of facts, split them in two and give their god credit for the good but exculpate him from responsibility for the bad.

          May 12, 2014 at 9:09 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          In the case of the boulder, they would claim that god stopped the boulder in the nick of time but refuse to acknowledge that he could have just not allowed the boulder to start in the first place. It is this general misunderstanding that I take issue with. The rationalization of their lack of reasoning is what bothers me the most.

          May 12, 2014 at 9:22 am |
        • fintronics

          I always wondered why churches have lightning rods?

          May 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
  5. kudlak

    When you have a persecution complex, like the most conservative Christians seem to have, there's a fear that any attempt to find comedy amongst themselves will actually be attacked by the target audience, correct?

    May 11, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
  6. primatica

    So the father, son and holy ghost walked into a bar and ordered a drink.....

    May 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • dagwud

      I've always preferred...

      So the father, son and holy ghost walked into a bar and asked for a glass of water. The bartender fills a glass, but says, "You can't drink that here. This is a bar." The Trinity responds, "Not a problem. I've done this one before."

      May 11, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
  7. primatica

    You know what Christians find funny...a nuke going off in Jerusalem.

    May 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
  8. primatica

    You can't be funny if you think a mass culling at the hands of a deity is a good thing....

    May 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • kudlak

      The "mass culling" of the flood isn't funny, but Christians see it as heartwarming enough to use as nursery decoration.

      May 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
      • G to the T

        The Flood story (esp Noah's Ark) seem to be the "gateway" story that most of us were exposed to as children. I've certainly seen many a nursery with the Ark on the wall or on the cover of brightly colored story books. The church on the way to work has a big wooden one on their lawn they use as play area for the kids.

        Such a dark story when you really think about it.

        May 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        • primatica

          animals are cute....

          May 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
        • kudlak

          I wonder how many kids get to colour all the drowning children in their Ark colouring books?

          May 12, 2014 at 10:02 am |
  9. primatica

    Christian humor is watching non- Christians burning in hell...

    May 11, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
    • wilburw7

      Christians spend time trying to stop you from going to hell. That is exactly what we are trying to help you avoid.

      May 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
      • sam stone

        hell is a hoax, wilburrrrr

        May 11, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
      • doobzz

        Until I tell you that I don't believe in your particular deity – then it's "you'll burn while I watch and laugh".

        It's happened just that way too many times for me to count.

        May 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Shall we list the numerous things that one can go to hell for?? Non-belief in that god; using that's gods name in vain; having an abortion; being LGBT; using birth control; believing in any other god. Given that there is zero evidence for a soul; heaven; hell; your god, I'm not going to worry too much. I have much better things to focus on, such as standing by those who Christians wish to step upon and living the only life I am guaranteed of-you should focus more on you and less on us, the world would be a brighter place. And maybe more Christians should attempt to follow the Golden Rule-that seems to be lost on the new agers.

        May 11, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        You should pray your god improves his morality wilbur...

        May 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        Jesus said nothing about hell, or "saving" anyone from it. He said he came that you may have "Life, and have it more abundantly". Nothing about eternal life. The notion of personal immortality arose in Hebrew culture late in the Apocalyptic period, and simply was not present earlier, when all dead souls were thought to go to Sheol, into a "dormant" state. Yahweh did not live in Sheol. Conjuring dead souls (which was thought to be possible) was forbidden, (as when the Witch of Endor conjured the Shade of Samuel for Saul, and he asked why he had been disturbed). It's a fascinating topic about when "individualism" developed after the old family groups were disrupted during the Exile, and only then were some heroes granted "immortal" status, (in the sense that Babe Ruth is an "immortal" baseball player) NOT that they were granted actual temporal limitless life spans. Even Saul of Tarsus thought only the saved were granted immortality...nothing about "going to hell" for anyone. That developed in Western ideas much later. It's a very non-Biblical idea. But by the time of Aquinas, Anselm, and Augustine it was there as they thought the saved increased their heavenly pleasure by being able to see the suffering of the damned. Nice. Real nice. Hell was a direct result of the cultural interaction of the Greek notion of Haedes. Jesus said nothing about damnation. It was all cooked up later.

        May 11, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
        • kevinite

          3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
          (John 17:3)

          22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

          26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (Job 19:26)

          7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:(Romans 2:7)

          May 11, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
        • kevinite

          29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29)

          23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
          (Matthew 11:23)

          May 11, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Exactly kevy,
          Everything you posted supports EXACTLY what I said.
          It is funny how little regionists actually know about the ancient cultures that produced their cults.

          May 11, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • realbuckyball


          May 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          It was ABSENT until almost the Second Century.

          May 11, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
        • kevinite


          It's funny how you say that I was exactly proving your point without proving why that is the case. Can't explain yourself deary?

          May 12, 2014 at 1:37 am |
        • kevinite

          The problem is that your saying that Jesus never said that when in fact you can't prove that Jesus never said that. The earliest figured gospel sources may not have preceeded the second century but that does not mean that there is no possibility whatsoever that there was earlier sources that is unknown to current historians. When historians and scholars say that "probably" and "likely" doesn't mean that it is fact set in stone. What we have know regarding regarding the teachings of Jesus comes out of what is taught in the New Testament, and since those teachings have not been proven 100 percent to to never have happened in the first place, then guess what, what has been considered to have been taught by Jesus in the gospels is considered to be a standard in christian teachings and since those versus in John were said to have come from Jesus and since it is not conclusively proven to not have been said by Jesus then you really don't have any solid basis to conclude that Jesus never said those thngs.

          May 12, 2014 at 1:51 am |
        • kevinite

          Oh yeah, 1 Corinthians is usually considered at least first century source and it is likely that Paul did actually teach about the resurrection, and eternal life. Also, when it comes to the resurrection given in the Book of Job in the Old Testament just exactly when did that story originate? Hmmm?

          May 12, 2014 at 1:55 am |
        • kevinite

          You realize that when Paul was teaching about immortality and eternal life that he was talking about two different principles. Whereas according to Paul everyone will be resurrected and gain immortality as what Paul further explains in 1 Corinthians 15 that not everyone will have eternal life. That there is a difference between merely continuing to live (immortality) and actually having a life (eternal life).

          May 12, 2014 at 2:09 am |
        • kevinite

          40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

          41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

          42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

          (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)

          According to Paul we will all eventually become resurrected and become immortal, but not all of us will be the same, that some will have greater glory than others and it is those who have the greatest glory get the best existence (eternal life).

          May 12, 2014 at 2:21 am |
        • colin31714

          Here’s my understanding. Jesus did not subscribe to the notion of hell as a place of eternal punishment for sinners. That was an entirely an embellishment to Sheol added by the early Christians. Sheol itself was a nebulous, dreary kingdom of the dead which got its name from either a place near Jerusalem where the Gentiles made human sacrifices or a garbage dump near the city (I have heard both theories). But, in either case, it was not an eternal fire frying sinners.

          Likewise, heaven as a kingdom of eternal bliss was an early Christian embellishment to the idea of an afterlife. You have to keep in mind that Jesus and Paul were both First Century Apocalyptic Jews. They both expected the end of times to occur imminently, as in, within a generation or less. Paul even considered Jesus’ death to be the start of the Second Coming and his letters to the early Christians are full of this notion.

          In their view, the end of times would be heralded by a cosmic visitor, the “son of man” who would cause the dead to rise bodily from their graves and live in a Utopian post Apocalyptic kingdom here on Earth. The problem was, when the Q Source and, later the 4 Gospels, picked up on the expression the son of man, it is used interchangeably to refer to Jesus and this cosmic visitor. The early Christians converted Jesus into this personage, hence the “second coming of Jesus.”

          Heaven, hell, limbo and purgatory as we understand them were later Christian inventions. Heck, didn’t Pope Benedict recently reject limbo, in his own subtle way?

          The net out is that these four magic ever-after kingdoms have little biblical support. It is ironic that the very carrot Christians yearn for (heaven) and the stick they use to get their children to follow their beliefs (hell) have little or no biblical support.

          May 12, 2014 at 8:55 am |
        • kevinite

          22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
          (Deuteronomy 32:22)

          10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
          (Psalms 16:10)

          20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
          (Proverbs 27:20)

          9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
          (Isaiah 14:9)

          15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
          (Isaiah 14:15)

          May 12, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Kevin....none of those quotes were attributable to Jesus, which was the original point.

          May 12, 2014 at 10:11 am |
        • kevinite

          36 ¶But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
          (Matthew 24:36)

          1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

          2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

          3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
          (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)

          May 12, 2014 at 9:52 am |
        • kevinite

          Actually gullible,

          The actual point is that those quote's attributed to Jesus have not been actually disproven. They have been questioned but not irrefutably disproven. It does all boil down to being all a matter of faith as to whether Jesus actually said those things, but that is really no shocker there. Just like pretty much everything else in the Gospel it is all a matter of faith.

          May 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Actually Kevin....it's nice to see a believer here pointing out that it is a matter of faith and not that god or Jesus has been proven true. I wish all Christians would admit that. I don't know god is not real any more than you would know he is real.

          May 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
        • kevinite

          The same thing also goes for the Old Testament scriptures that were quoted being linked to the teachings of Jesus. They may have been questioned but certainly not been irrefutably disproven. Again it is a matter of faith.

          May 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
        • kevinite

          Yeah, I figure that this is a "belief blog" after all.

          May 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          And by that logic, you can't prove the sayings of Zeus were never said by Zeus. ANthing to keep the cognitive dissonance at bay, huh ? The POINT is that the development of the concept of an after life in Hebrew culture is well known, and docu'mented by scholars. It did not include a "heaven" until AFTER it came into contact with Greek ideas. There is no way anyone can remember what someone said 100 years before with no recorders, videos, newspapers or in general writing devices available to almost no one.

          May 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          The OT has been totally debunked by archaeology. THAT is NOT a "matter of faith" except for those with their heads perversely in the sand.

          May 12, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          You seem to be very ignorant of even basic scholarship, Kevy.

          May 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
        • kevinite

          Actually luckyball,

          Where does the "evidence" you provided was actually the irrefutable proof that there is no God who does not want to be made known but would rather have us develop our faith in said God?

          May 14, 2014 at 12:55 am |
  10. primatica

    You can't be funny if your walking on eggshells...

    May 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
  11. primatica

    You can't be funny when your biggest hope is the end of all that is now......

    May 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
  12. Reality

    And for the next humorous Christian movie:

    An illiterate, trouble- making magic man from Nazareth is summarily crucified, descends into hell or was it limbo, rises again in three days, travels about the country side for forty days visiting old friends and then ascends to some Disney-like wonder-world called heaven. And god created Frebrez to make it so.

    May 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
  13. cryomark

    Humor is about crossing lines; going beyond the standards of good taste or accepted/expected behavior.
    Being religious means a)never intentionally crossing those lines; b) never laughing about it when it's done and c) Begging forgiveness when you've done either.
    A religious comedy is an oxymoron. A comedy by religious actors is not and that's why it's called acting.

    May 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Humor can also be wordplay and lightning fast wit, or pratfalls and spittakes, or simply an unexpected situation. Christians are as capable of humor as anyone else, but from reading the reviews, they failed miserably with this movie.

      May 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
    • ernievegas2014

      Your post is interesting. I read something recently talking about what christian mystics called 'amusement'. They said that if you were to have a light heart and be 'amused' by things, that it helped divinity to unfold. For example, if someone drove by in a wagon with only 3 wheels (1 was missing), rather than be negative, critical, or even laugh with cruelty at their situation, you would:

      Smile, laugh with them at their bravery for persevering with their wagon trip. It would help them to laugh at it as well, and perhaps take the stress out of things.

      It sounds like within reason, amusement can work in many cases to make things lighter. They say that when cancer patients go to comedy clubs they do better at fighting their cancer. Something to think about...

      Also, I read something about the Christian Charismatics incorporating laughter into their belief system, so there might be even more information to discover about this as a Christian technique.

      Assumption Catholic Church Los Angeles

      May 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
  14. colin31714

    An interesting TED Talks on NPR today. I also read an interesting report this morning about the same topic – marketing. The way the human mind is wired, two identical wines will be rated very differently by the same person, based on cost. The same white wine was given to about 120 different people. They were told it was from a $10 bottle from Wal Mart. Later, the same wine was given to them, but they were told it was a $200 bottle of French wine.

    Almost unanimously, they preferred the second wine, even though it came from the same bottle as the first.. Nothing too amazing there. But, when they did scans of which part of the brain lit up, the pleasure center actually lit up more with the "$200 bottle". That is to say, it really DID taste better even though it was the same wine.

    This got me thinking about religion. Most religious people get a high from their belief independently of whether it is true or not. In fact, many don't even seem to care if it is true or not. As long as they get their little high out of their belief, they will go along with it. This is why it is so hard to have religious people see the deep inanity of their beliefs. The truth or falsity of the garbage they believe is deeply irrelevant to them, as long as it delivers the required pleasure.

    May 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      My theory has always been that it's basically what you're saying. The release of beta-endorphins and oxytocin into the brain is a docu'mented fact when people pray, sing, chant, repeat phrases, meditate etc. (It also happens when you exercise ... however working out is a FAR more productive way to get your brain drugs than religion.

      May 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • kudlak

      How do you know when people are really drunk at a Jewish wedding?

      When the plain water you serve after the wine runs out gets even more compliments.

      May 11, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      "The truth or falsity of the garbage they believe is irrelevant to them, as long as it delivers the required pleasure"

      Unequivocally the most benighted, blatantly false sentence I've read in 2014.

      May 11, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        Then I see you're read nothing else in 2014.

        May 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          It's " you've". I know this is the proper term because I am an avid reader.

          May 12, 2014 at 12:01 am |
      • midwest rail

        You're enti.tled to that opinion, but you are awfully forgiving of some of the believers on this blog if that is the worst.

        May 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          That is a fair point. I would agree that there have been more than a few asinine statements made by theists on this site. I guess I don't consider those comments with as much disdain, and they are disdainful, because they don't conflict with my thoughts on such a primal level as does the above mentioned nonsense. And make no mistake, it is nonsense.

          May 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm |
        • midwest rail

          I see your point, no further argument from me on that one.

          May 12, 2014 at 6:27 am |
      • colin31714

        Yeah, but it gave me the required pleasure.....

        May 12, 2014 at 7:42 am |
  15. thefinisher1

    You wanna know the funny thing about atheists? According to their own "logic", atheists invented religion. Ha! You atheists are so childish you deny what you don't want to face about your atheism.

    May 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
    • freefromtheism

      Everyone is an atheist, some more than others.
      While I haven't heard anyone say that "atheists invented religion", surely you won't disagree that religion is indeed constructed (invented).
      If there's "logic" involved, as you say, would you mind presenting the argument you're referring to?

      May 11, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Atheists make the claim that we are all born "atheists" which means atheists were the ones that "invented" religion. Atheism is a delusion of the mind. Get over it.

        May 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • freefromtheism

          So, you think that people are born with beliefs?

          May 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • Doris

          Some people who invented religion are no longer atheists as a result of their inventions for which they hold beliefs. If they became theists, you can't very well call their delusion atheism can you?

          My, you really have trouble with very simple logic.

          May 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • kudlak

          Unbelieving children don't magically start believing in God. They are taught to become theists by trusted adults, so you only have those people to blame for inventing religion, not atheists.

          May 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
    • burkemtn

      Oh, you're right. I can't bear to face it. We DID invent religion and we're really delusional. We in fact do believe in the invisible man in the sky who performs miracles and can read our minds. You've got us all nailed down.

      May 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      While thefinisher never has anything intelligent to actually add to any discussion, the subject of when and how and why humans invented religion is an interesting one. There is an excellent book on the subject by the renowned Sociologist Dr. Robert N Bellah (Emeritus Professor in the U of California system), published by Harvard U Press : "Religion In Human Evolution". I highly recommend it.

      May 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
      • colin31714

        see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGhprYr8vaY

        May 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  16. burkemtn

    I'm just waiting for that first wacky, feel-good Islamic comedy to come out. Should be fun.

    May 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • cryomark

      I think the question posed in the headline for this article is answered. All of the comments by the principles (actors, writers, directors, marketing , etc) speak about how uplifting, representative, reflective, needed, etc this film is. Nobody talks about how funny it is.

      May 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
      • burkemtn

        And yet it's called a Christian comedy.

        May 11, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • kudlak

      Little Mosque on the Prairie use to be a pretty good TV series. Don't know any movies, though.

      May 11, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
  17. bostontola

    Being reflective on Mothers Day.

    Belief in God and religions are more on a continuum than isolated points with wide gulfs between them. The difference between an atheist and a deist is a mere stones throw. They both believe there is no God interfering with the natural world or engaged in personal relationships with individuals. I find the difference insignificant. Likewise across the land of religions.

    There is a wide gulf between people regarding belief, but not by religion. The gulf is between moderates and fundamentalists. Fundamentalists of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are in the same camp. They hate each other, but they hate moderates more. They share an apocalyptic outlook, the end is nigh. They are prepared for it and willing to do extreme things to secure their place in heaven. They have disdain for weak believers.

    Fundamentalists are disproportionately loud and activist. They make religions and the religious look bad. My only criticism of moderates is that they don't distance themselves more from fundamentalists.

    I think a world full of moderates, believers and atheists would get along belief wise just dandy.

    May 11, 2014 at 11:29 am |
  18. wilburw7

    Why do you have to insult Christians? "It aims to do something no other Christian major motion picture has endeavored to do: make you laugh. On purpose." Hopefully the film will not fill people's minds with violent and pervert thoughts that is so abundant in today's films. There is nothing funny about atheists going into schools and shooting their fellow students.

    May 11, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • midwest rail

      You cannot be serious. Your last line is obviously just trolling for a reaction. Such baiting should be beneath you.

      May 11, 2014 at 11:20 am |
    • sam stone

      Really, Wilburrrrrr?

      Where are atheists going into schools and shooting up fellow students?

      Come on, big mouth.....back up your drivel, if you can

      May 11, 2014 at 11:24 am |
      • wilburw7

        Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were atheists. What was not reported at the time is that they were asking students if they believed in God. If they said yes, then they pulled the trigger

        May 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
        • observer


          That was a RUMOR. Give a reliable source if you can.

          May 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          LOL! Atheists cover up what other atheists have done! Classic.

          May 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • freefromtheism

          Who is "covering up" for anyone? If someone goes around shooting people, whether they're an atheist, a Christian or whatever, to me is irrelevant.
          The only question is whether atheism, as a concept, necessarily entails killing others. The answer is no.
          Many religions, on the other hand, have justified murder by appealing to their scriptures.

          May 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Atheists have murdered over 100 million people. Today's atheists ignore the dark past atheism has. In fact, communism, which by the way, was founded by atheists, hates religion. It's sad to see how many atheists willingly deny the harm atheism has done to this world.

        May 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • observer

          The Bible says that when God got done with his torturous drowning of mankind, there were only EIGHT people left on the face of the earth.


          May 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          People on your side murdered more than God. Looks like atheism is more bloodthirsty and hateful. Grow up, kiddo.

          May 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • freefromtheism

          Let's just spell out what you're actually trying to say: only true Christians don't murder people. Right?
          However, to address the nonsense you've talked about, you're mixing political ideology and atheism. Also, in the number you're thinking about, you're including a total count of those that died within a certain period, including those that died from famines caused by droughts and so on.

          May 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • observer


          No atheist ever had a killing spree that left ONLY 8 PEOPLE on the face of the earth. Ooops.

          I'm an agnostic, not an atheist.

          "Grow up, kiddo".

          May 11, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
        • kenman14

          Thank you for the effort to inject a logical reply to the Christian bashers that make up the CNN base, but you know you'll only get attacked for it! Christians are the ONLY ones that liberals think SHOULD have bigotry, hatefulness and mocking directed at them!
          Even when there's a story of Islamic murder, beheadings, child kidnapping, "honor" killings, and terrorism, liberals will use the opportunity to direct their ire and hate to Christians! There is no reasoning with the liberally diseased mind.

          May 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • primatica

          So says the man who's biggest hope for humanity is a mass culling at the hands of their loving deity....

          May 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          If god created the universe and all in it, then it must have created atheists, right? So take out your frustration about not being able to make a reasoned argument for your belief on your god.

          May 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
        • primatica

          Tell that to the native Americans and African slaves....they where forced to convert and they still got screwed.

          May 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ken: Really?? This is what you want representing your side? Supporting thefinisher and his hatred doesn't say a lot about you and certainly does nothing good for your side.

          May 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Irrelevant. You have not demonstrated causation. You have asserted correlation. Until you provide proof of causation you assertions have no merit.

          May 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
      • wilburw7

        The fifth deadliest school shooting spree in United States history occurred on the Red Lake reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota. On March 21, 2005. The shooter named Weise aimed at a student named Chon’gai’la Morris, and asked, “Do you believe in God?” Morris answered “no” and the gunman turned away to find another target.

        May 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • observer

          The teacher's final words were "God save us". He didn't.

          May 11, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • midwest rail

          So, you have a 16 year old perpetrator, who had lost both parents by the age of 11, despised where he lived, was reportedly harassed and bullied constantly, and your conclusion is that the shootings are tied directly to atheism Wilbur ? Is that your final answer ?

          May 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • midwest rail

          'smatter, wilbur ? Afraid of dialogue ? No way to justify your conclusion ? Or afraid to admit your post was intentionally dishonest ?

          May 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          I see your Jebus did a LOT to save the innocents at Sandy Hook.
          What a seriously impotent weak powerless gutless deity you have, WIlly.

          May 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      You are right, no one needs to insult Christians, they do a good job of insulting themselves as well as everyone elese intelligence so really no need to bother. Just a waste of breath.

      May 11, 2014 at 11:32 am |
      • wilburw7

        "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."– Isaac Newton

        May 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • djangoboy

          Newton was also an alchemist.

          May 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • doobzz

          Very intelligent people can hold very unintelligent views on any number of subjects.

          May 11, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • wilburw7

          doobzz And who decides what is intelligent?

          May 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
        • observer


          The Bible seems to trash intelligent people and praise people who "are like children" and sheep.

          May 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
    • bostontola

      Go read Salero21 and thefinisher1 and report back. Then go look up the word prejudice and read your OP. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      May 11, 2014 at 11:35 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      My intent is to insult Christianity....

      Sacred cows make the best hamburger

      May 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
  19. G to the T

    "“Moms’ Night Out” is squeaky-clean family fun." That's rated "PG" (parental guidance suggested).

    See? It's funny already!

    May 11, 2014 at 9:19 am |
  20. saggyroy

    The Jews and atheists are famous for their comedy. Why not Christians?

    May 11, 2014 at 8:06 am |
    • djangoboy

      Because they're not funny?

      May 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
    • mattd44

      Atheists are known for their humor? Right!

      Jews are because I humor is a self-defense mechanism. Same with blacks.

      May 11, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.