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Forgiving the Franklins
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by Erik Childress

"And Jesus Said – Let Them Screw!"
3 stars

SCREENED VIA THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: No one can say the Bush administration hasn’t produced a few positives in their tenure. It’s mainly a residual factor as the attacks on them have produced some serious entertainment. But we’re already getting off the topic. I was brought up Catholic. Went to Church every Saturday and attended Catholic schooling from 2nd grade and right through high school. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment that hypocrisy began to rear it’s ugly head but I know it was sometime around my years as an altar boy. Not that anything happened (Thank God!) but as maturity comes with age and progress comes with life, you learn what’s important and what’s dispensable. For others it IS their life and there’s no room for discourse, debate or diversion. The Franklins are one such family and they’re about to learn a very hard lesson. Over and over and over again.

The Franklins are the kind of Christians who subscribe to the written word and believe that God himself held the pen. Frank (Robertson Dean) can’t stand to hear of the sexual problems of his co-workers since such activity should be used for procreation not recreation; a task he demonstrates by rolling over on his stationary wife, gives a couple of thrusts and then rolls back. Betty (Teresa Willis) is fully committed to her neighborhood Church group, but also can’t help inflicting pain on herself probably just so she can feel something other than an obligation to carrying out her Lord’s work. Son Brian (Vince Pavia in a pretty one-note performance) is teased for his homosexual tendencies by sister Caroline (Aviva), who appears to be the one most prepared to break free of her existence with her sarcasm and profanity-laced bedtime prayers.

Then by some miraculous divine intervention (or not paying attention to the road), an accident leaves the father, the son and Betty, the holy spirit caught between the living and the dead where they meet Jesus face-to-face. Through a little brain surgery, Mr. Christ removes an apple from each of their skulls and sends them back to a world without the original sin they were born with. (Of course, such devout Christians should have been baptized already but chalk it up to a rebirth or the “born again” staple of those who have sinned and now look for a do-over.) Their transformation of shamelessness catches the eye of their community and baffles the now-further-doubting Caroline who walked away from the accident with a debilitating limp.

The early scenes with the Franklins will likely be a turn-off for most viewers since their brand of moralizing and robotic behavior make them distinctly unpleasant even to the most regular of those keeping holy the Sabbath day. However, this does make their transition all the more enjoyable as they break free of their constrictions and begin living their lives without every waking moment being Judgment Day of their fellow man. Frank & Betty’s discovery of each other as sexual beings is wisely not treated for laughs and instead becomes a beautiful moment (set to the tune of Sarah Brightman’s “Deliver Me”; used to far greater effect than as a closing anthem to Brokedown Palace) of two people whose love for each other has gone unnoticed for too long.

Therein also lies the problem with Forgiving the Franklins. For every hilariously frank conversation they have around others, somehow writer/director Jay Floyd keeps coming back to the sex. The climax of nearly every other scene involves a tingle by Betty or a boner by Frank. They’re comfortable enough to walk around naked as jaybirds and screw in public and its enough for even the most sexually liberated to say “enough is enough, go get a room.” By contrast it softens the point of creating two extremes of behavior that neither most liberals nor conservatives can condone without suffering a label of radicalism. Surely there’s a middle ground that Christ would condone.

In its exuberance for the free-spirited philosophies that become a part of the Franklin’s language, somewhere both the point and the satire become moot and the shocks get tame. Even the acceptance of homosexuality within the family becomes about how great the sex was. And the eventual forgiveness for the Franklins transition is telegraphed to such an extent that the final moments wear out its welcome towards an unsatisfactory resolution. There’s a wide ranging opportunity for satires of religious constriction, which is why the early promise of Forgiving the Franklins gives way to such disappointment. Floyd does provide some huge laughs along the way but loses all potential for poignancy by never getting past what eventually becomes a one-joke premise.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13632&reviewer=198
originally posted: 03/08/06 13:59:34
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 San Francisco Independent Film Festival For more in the 2007 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/07/09 John Z Not worth the time I wasted on it 1 stars
6/09/08 Ashton Leeder Trite, terrible script without real insight or empathy. No "boner", sorry. 1 stars
11/26/07 Ellen Fabulous film, funny,engaging and an important "must see" movie! 5 stars
3/22/07 Glenn W Loved it. "Deliver Me" has made me cry ever since I saw this film 5 stars
4/26/06 Scott Provacative and hiilarious. A true original voice. 5 stars
4/17/06 Mary Palmer Saw it at Sundance. Trite and sophomoric. Not worth my time or money. 1 stars
4/06/06 Robert Daring, hilarious and very original 5 stars
3/16/06 Rebecca Ugh, I hated this-the bad acting, simplistic script, and ice cubes in uncomfortable places 2 stars
2/17/06 Derrick Great, thought provoking 5 stars
1/31/06 Cindy Neve Outstanding! 5 stars
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  DVD: 20-May-2008



Directed by
  Jay Floyd

Written by
  Jay Floyd

  Robertson Dean
  Teresa Willis
  Vince Pavia
  Mari C. Blackwell
  Khris Scaramanga

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