Late One Night, Part 1

Time for another Christiano film!  But oh, this one is just a bit different.  No hearty “Jesus, man!” or solemn promise to come to Jesus “all the way.”  Nope, this is a quiet, moody piece.  I’m serious.  And enough things work that I am almost inclined to…like the movie.

I know, right?  But don’t worry—the movie’s shabby treatment of its main character, Larry, and the usual nasty message of Christian films prevent me from giving this a Ruby Star (which I just made up anyway).

Said Larry has already made a brief appearance on this site—he was the “of this world” sales clerk in Time Changer.

For those of you who like to keep track of the Bible verses used in these movies, Late One Night opens with Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Trailer time!

Oh, and one more thing before we start: see how the trailer keeps the plot focused on the “quiet, humble man“?  The redhead?  Yeah, this movie seems to be under the impression that he is our hero, when, by any rational estimation, the role of hero (or anti-hero, if you must) belongs to Larry.  And this strange idea about who this movie is about is not limited to the trailer—every piece of writing I’ve seen on this movie, including the DVD back cover matter, calls Larry the “antagonist.”  But read on, and let me know who you think are our heroes and villains and anybody in between.

The film opens with a black-and-white montage showing us just how frakked up our atheist “antagonist’s” life is.  It all starts when Larry’s dad walks out on him and his mother when he is seven.  Just to make sure we Get It, Dad leaves with these resounding words to Mom:

“Look, I hate you.  And I hate that kid.  And you’re never gonna see me again.  EVER.”

Ah, just another day in a non-Christian “home.”  And just to be sure we really, really Get It, Dad’s words echo: And I hate that kid…and I hate that kid…and I hate that KID… as Larry cries out for his father.

(In a decision that is both sensible and cost-effective, Larry and his dad are played by the same actor, Brad Heller.  The man single-handedly makes this movie watchable.)

As morose music plays, we see that the next twenty-five years of Larry’s life are not much of an improvement: his mother gets a job cleaning (not that this is a horrible thing, but the morose music keeps playing anyway).

Then adult Larry is thrown in jail (wearing a black-and-white-striped prison jumpsuit that makes it look like he’ll be working on the chain gang).

Then, after getting out of jail, he strikes out with a woman at a bar.

Well, jail is hardly a surprise for our erstwhile “antagonist.”  After all, coming from a “broken home” with no Christian values, Larry doesn’t know right from wrong.

As for the unsuccessful pick-up: Larry is presented here as more clueless schmuck than amoral predator.  He strikes up a conversation with the woman, drops a few compliments, and asks her out.  He’s pretty obviously trying too hard, but the woman’s reaction (“Drop dead.”) still seems cruel.  What, a “No, thanks” wouldn’t have sufficed?

Larry works at a factory (kinda looks like they bottle orange juice, but between my color blindness and the bad lighting in the factory, it’s difficult to tell), apparently second shift.  After work, he and his two friends head to a local diner to grab a late bite, and this is where the bulk of the film takes place.

On a couple of occasions, however, we switch outside to a guy handing out tracts.  He seems genuinely surprised that his evangelism technique of accosting people at eleven o’clock at night in the middle of the light industrial district isn’t working.

TractGuy1

“God loves you, man.  Don’t you know that God loves you?”

In the diner (in which they are currently the only customers) Larry’s two buddies, Mike and Vince, give him some good-natured grief about an episode earlier in the day.  We’ll call it Larry Strikes Out, Part Deux.  Larry has a crush on a woman who works in the office of their factory.  He says “hi” to her every day as he comes in.  Let me be clear about something, in light of events to come: this is as far as it has ever gone.  A casual greeting.  Hi.

Later in the workday, on their break, Christian co-worker Riley attempts to school Larry on the situation:

“She just isn’t seeing it your way.”

Wise words, though I can hardly blame Larry for not taking them to heart, given the massive, self-satisfied smirk on Riley’s face as he delivers the message.

Smug

From left, Larry (ticked off at Riley), Vince (trying to stay out of it),
and Riley (smugly smirking as he shoots down Larry’s hopes).

“Ah, I know what it is.  It’s because she’s religious and I’m a heathen.”

Gorram straight, he’s a heathen!  Join us, Larry.  JOIN US.

“I’m surprised you know what that word means.” [smugs Riley]

Screw you, Riley.

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that, you fake.” [responds Larry, awesomely]

“Look, man, she’s not interested in dating someone who’s not a Christian.”

“Well, then I guess it’s her that’s acting like a heathen.”

How can you tell when a Christian is writing lines for an atheist?  When the atheist character thinks that “being a jerk” is synonymous with not believing.

Anyway, Riley starts to quote 2 Corinthians at Larry, and I can only assume he’s going for this verse, but Larry cuts him off, utterly annoyed.

Turns out that Riley’s advice was prescient: the boss calls Larry to his office even later that same day, and tells Larry to stop “harassing” (that word again!) the woman.  Because “lawyers take these things very seriously.”  Strangely, Larry does not respond with a simple “You’ll be hearing from my union,” but he does defend himself, pointing out that he’s only ever said “hi” to her.

In this little game of “she said, he said,” however, the boss immediately and unquestionably believes “the girl” (who never is granted the dignity of a name).  Why?  Because “she’s a nice Christian girl.”

Well, I guess I’m up a creek if I’m ever “harassed” (or said “hi” to) under this guy’s watch.

Larry finishes his story to his friends by concluding that Riley, the boss, and the woman are “a bunch of fakes” (a theme he will expound upon further in a little while).

Weird moment: Larry’s burger is ready, and he teases the diner owner/cook, Jackson, about the doneness of the meat.

“Okay, Jackson, your life is on the line tonight.  This better be cooked exactly the way I like it.”

“Hey, it’s your life that’s one the line tonight.  You just don’t know it yet.”

Um, what?  How does Jackson know what’s about to transpire?  IS HE THE FOURTH IN OUR CHRISTIAN MOVIE LINEUP OF ANGELS???

sg29

Second Glance Angel

angel

angel2

Escape from Hell Angel One and Angel Two

Jackson

And now Jackson from Late One Night.
I’m still unimpressed by angels, but that dinner special is quite reasonable.

Time to get rid of the woman so the men can talk religion!  Oh yeah, there’s another whole woman in this movie: Patty, the waitress.  She knows the factory guys, and has a friendly, teasing relationship with them, especially Larry.  Unfortunately, she heads off for a party, leaving Larry, his two buddies, and Jackson the possible angel, in the diner alone.

Meanwhile, Tract Guy actually has a bite!  You can tell Tract Guy is just STOKED that he has a chance at a conversion…so much so that he fails to realize that the guy he is trying to convert IS ALREADY A CHRISTIAN.  This is our introduction to the guy that RTCs think is the real hero of this movie.  We never learn his real name, but Larry mockingly calls him Jesus, so I will do the same:

Tract Guy: “Hey.  Hey, man.  God loves you, man.  Do you know God loves you, man?

Jesus: “Why, yes.  Yes, I do.”

TG: “Do you know that God gave his only son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins?”

J: “Yes.”

TG: “Do you know that Jesus died and was buried and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures?  Do you know this, man?”

J: “Yes.”

“Now, I have to warn you: there are a lot of people out there who know facts about Jesus but they ain’t going to Heaven when they die.  The question is, have you done anything about what you know?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Have you realized you are a sinner, and Jesus is the one who can forgive you of your sins?  Have you repented towards God and put your faith in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sins, and received him in your life as your Lord and Savior?  Have you done that, man?”

“Yeah, I have.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear, that’s good to hear.”

*Jesus starts to walk away, but Tract Guy just will not leave him alone*

“You know, life is like being on a boat: When you have Jesus in your life, you’re on Noah’s ark.  But when you don’t have Jesus in your life, you’re on the Titanic.”  *TG chuckles at his own joke*  “Do you hear me, man?”

Um, Tract Guy, not everyone on the Titanic died.  Just so you know.

“Yeah, I hear ya.”

“Jesus is the only way to the Father in Heaven…the only way!”

*Jesus keeps walking away*

“I hear ya.” [Jesus responds, over his shoulder, but still trying to get away]

“You have to live for eternity, not the weekend!  Deny thyself, follow Jesus.”

“I hear ya.”

“God loves you, man.  God loves you.”

*Jesus turns all the way around*

“God loves you.”

“I hear ya, man, I hear ya.  God loves you.”

I think we have a strong candidate for World’s Most Pointless Conversation: this Jesus guy is already RTC!  But you just know that Tract Guy will go home and mark this interaction in his diary as “Successful Conversion of Heathen.”

Does the movie even realize how this guy comes off—as a blowhard in love with the sound of his own voice who will not just STFU or let anyone get a word in edgewise?

And RTCs like this wonder why people walk past street evangelists as quickly as possible.

Jesus, of course, as our model of a Good Christian, puts up with the blowhard with a smile, and actually takes the tract, even though he presumably knows all the boilerplate arguments in the stupid little thing.  Oh well, it will become important in a minute.

Jesus wanders into the diner, and Larry teases him in a pretty obnoxious and juvenile manner about what to order.  Jesus ignores him and places his order, and Jackson reacts to the whole situation in a terribly Christian manner, telling Jesus that “I have to put up with that idiot [Larry] every night.”  Well, fine, jerk, I guess Larry doesn’t have to patronize your establishment EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

Jesus heads to the bathroom, leaving his coat behind.  This is Larry’s cue—he sneaks over and starts rummaging through Jesus’s pockets.

DUDE, NOT COOL.

Man, atheists, amirite?  Leave them alone for thirty seconds, and they’ll rob you blind.

Or at least, they’ll take your worthless tract.

Yep, Larry doesn’t take a wallet or a phone or anything else—just the tract.

When Jesus comes back, Larry tries to strike up a conversation again, and Jackson tells him to knock it off.  So Larry mutters to Jesus that “I have to put up with that idiot [Jackson] every night.

Okay, I’ll admit it—that’s pretty funny.

Things start to get interesting here, and again, it’s due almost entirely to Brad Heller’s acting.  Gotta remember that Larry has had a really shitty day, what with people giving him grief about his lack of religion left and right, and now he just seems anxious for a little verbal sparring to make himself feel better.

SO HE STARTS TO CRITIQUE THE TRACT OUT LOUD!

See why I like this guy?  😀

Critiquer

Larry, a born (again?) critiquer.  JOIN US.

Larry tells Jesus that the tract fell out of his pocket, and tries to give it back.  Jesus, speaking to Larry for the first time, tells him to keep it.

“Gee, thanks, but I’m not religious.” [says Larry]

“Neither am I.”

“Well, what are you then?”

“A Christian.”

GAH, I hate that bit.  Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s the TRUTH.  It’s a RELATIONSHIP.

Gimme a break.  Hate to break it to Jesus here, but you have a religion, just like so many other people.  Special Snowflake Syndrome strikes the Christian Church.

Larry keeps at it, neatly displacing his anger at Riley and his boss onto Jesus (Ah-HA, just like atheists always displace their anger at others onto God!  Man, atheists, right?)

Larry reiterates his earlier point that all the Christians he knows are “fakes.”  And this appears to be not just Larry blowing smoke—his friends agree that their coworkers have a tendency to preach at them, but then don’t practice what they preach.

Oh, and smug Riley can kiss my ass.  Yes, Larry knows what a heathen is, and he knows what a hypocrite is, and he lays out the definition very nicely for Jesus.

Jesus does not at all address Larry’s questions about Christian hypocrisy.  (And get used to this—Jesus evades nearly all of Larry’s questions.)  So Larry brings up his next point, that the reason Christians are hypocrites is that they don’t really believe–specifically, that they don’t really believe in Hell.

“The Bible stuff, it ain’t real to you, man.  It’s something you heard, or something you were taught, or say you believe.  But you really don’t.”

Apparently, Riley and other Christians at the factory regularly tell Larry and Mike and Vince and other non-Christians that they’re going to Hell unless they convert.  So it comes to this for Larry:

“Now, if you guys really believed that, if you really believed that we were going to Hell when we die, your would do everything in your power to keep us from going there, am I right?  Am I right?”

“Right!” [chorus Mike and Vince]

“Sure I am!  You would do whatever it took, but you don’t, because the Bible stuff, it ain’t real to you, man.”

“Hey, Larry,” [interjects Jackson] “since this is such a big deal to you, then why don’t you go out there on the street and keep all those people from going to Hell?”

Jackson’s not real big on listening, is he?

“Look, I don’t even believe in this stuff, man.  I’m just trying to show that these Christians don’t, either.”

I see Larry can take care of himself.

So, Larry asks Jesus directly if he, Larry, is going to Hell when he dies.  (You can see this bit in the trailer.)

Jesus has a pithy response.

Jesus

That’s it.

Jesus stares down at the empty counter (because seriously, it is taking Jackson forever to make one chicken sandwich), and when it becomes clear that he has nothing to say, Larry concludes that Jesus is just “another phony.”

But neither of them are done yet!

WILL Jesus ever answer a question about his not-a-religion?  How big of a jerk IS Larry?  Is Jackson an angel, or what?

Stay tuned for the second and final part!

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Posted on June 29, 2013, in Escape from Hell, Movies, Second Glance, The Pretender, Time Changer. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Oh boy, that trailer is a great start. “What’s a Christian?” Somehow that one is even worse than the usual “Jesus, who’s that?” prefered by Chick Tracts. I wonder if there are more than a thousand people on the planet who don’t have at least some idea of what a Christian is. It might be the wrong idea, mind you, but they’ll know it.

    And while we see our “antagonist” scream and grab our “hero’s” shirt to show us he’s just an angry wrong man, I can sympathise with his question. I fully agree that I’d be hardpressed to call “You are a horrible person, so horrible that the most just being in the universe would have no choice but to torment you forever, but if you agree with me and live your life like I tell you, you can escape it and get a reward.” good news.

    Now, that’s the trailer. Let’s see about the rest of the movie.

    • I would like to think (since I’m pretty obviously on Larry’s side) that Larry is asking not because he doesn’t know, but because he wants to see if Jesus will give him a sensible, coherent answer.

      Jesus apparently cannot.

  2. Okay, so that line from the trailer is misleading, and they’re not really suggesting Larry doesn’t know what a Christian is. It’s just that Jesus here is being obnoxious.

    I’m not going to say that I can’t imagine that the unnamed girl is bothered by Larry, even if all he says to her is “Hi”. I haven’t seen the movie, and the movie only shows one instance. If the body language of Larry is wrong, I could imagine it was creepy. I can even understand her perhaps being too timid to say so to Larry directly, and instead going through the boss. But seriously, screw the boss who pretty much says “She shares my religion Christian beliefs, so I’m just going to assume she’s right and you’re wrong.”

    For a movie so intent on showing heathen Larry is a jerk (He mocks a Christian Tract that says he’s a filthy sinner! OMG, he’s hatefull and incapable of love like all non-believers!), notice what the good Christians are doing to him: Rejecting him romantically, lodging complaints and treating those complaints as valid, all for no reason besides him not sharing their religion Christian beliefs. Can you imagine how an RTC movie would portray this if the roles were reversed?

    Not that it’s nice of him to take it out on the first Christian he finds who cannot get him in trouble professionally, mind you. Nor do I understand why he’s basically asking to be more aggresively witnessed to. I mean, did you see how obnoxious Tract Guy’s attempt at conversion was, and that was just to someone who already agrees with everything he says.

    • Ah, crap, I forgot how to do strikethroughs again. Lets see, it should be one of these:
      religion Christian beliefs
      religion Christian beliefs
      religion Christian beliefs
      religion Christian beliefs
      religion Christian beliefs

  3. Y’know, I can think of an explanation for that weird situation with the unnamed RTC woman and her claim that Larry saying ‘Hi’ to her constitutes harassment.
    It goes like this: RTC woman and her boss aren’t actually Christian – that’s only their cover story. In reality, they are both Seekrit CommieMuslims who are working to turn the USA into a Caliphate. Under CommieMuslim Sharia law, a woman who has any contact, however innocent, with a man who isn’t related to her will be stoned to death. So, of course, being a good CommieMuslim woman she can’t tell Larry to please go away and has to go to her Male-In-Authority (i.e her boss) to sort the situation out on her behalf. Hence the harassment warning.
    Of course, its to the advantage of the seekrit CommieMuslims running the business that most of their employees be RTCs, because RTCs think pretty much the same way as them and don’t see anything odd about, for example, imposing elements of Sharia Law in the workplace.
    And so the seekrit CommieMuslim conspiracy proceeds…!

  4. hidden_urchin

    I would be more inclined to believe the “Christianity is not a religion” crowd if they would give up their religious tax exemptions.

  5. Y’know, after some due consideration, I’ve decided that (thus far) I feel more sympathetic to ginger-Jesus than to Larry.

    Sure, Larry’s been having a rough day. But unless I missed someting, ginger-Jesus just wants to go for a bite. On his way there, he’s accosted by Tract guy, who will not shut the fuck up even after being told that ginger-Jesus is already a believer. Then when he arrives, he gets mocked by three guys (only Larry seems to be doing much, but the other two aren’t exactly stopping him, and they’ve got the same uniforms. So for all he knows they are a closely knit group, and Larry is their leader), gets asked about his religion, and then this total stranger who keeps interupting his attempt to just have a quick meal puts him on the spot, demanding proof that he isn’t a phoney, using that stranger’s own standards on what a phoney is.

    That just sucks. I can fully understand just wanting to eat in peace, and I’d hate it if a couple of douchebags were to keep interupting me and demanding I prove the sincerety of my beliefs (or lack thereof).

    Mind you, I don’t find this whole situation terribly believable. I’m reminded of some joke at the expense of an atheist who struck up a conversation with a believer in the plane. And I just wondered “Does that ever happen?” Isn’t it usual the RTCs trying to strike up conversations with strangers to try and convert them to their beliefs. I live in the Netherlands, where the non-religious- and Christian parts of the population are about the same size. And thus far, I’ve only ever seen Christians walk up to me or my parents with their “good news”.

    I mean, here we have a heathen aggresively demanding a total stranger witness to him about Christianity. Isn’t that the RTC equivalent of those “real stories” in porn magazines, about women who’re just begging unknown men to have sex with them? Both of those are like a fantasy where the target you hoped to evangelize/seduce just walks up to you and demands to go straight to the good stuff you wanted to get to.

  6. So… The woman at Larry’s workplace, it’s explicitly said she’s making a harassment complaint, rather than someone else (like the boss) making assumptions on her behalf? But it’s also given as true that all Larry ever says to her is, “Hi”? So she’s basically lying about Larry’s behavior to make it actionable, but she still gets to be a “good Christian” about it? I kind of doubt anyone who claims Christianity in a movie like this would be treated as falsely hiding under it to get away with bad behaviors, so apparently this is considered good behavior for her if she gets to get away with it under the aegis of her religion… Maybe it’s not explicitly trying to say that good Christians lie about their heathen coworkers to get them in trouble, but this is the impression I’m getting off that bit.

    Also, I should be more bothered by Larry going through that guy’s pockets, but if all he’s after is some reading material then I guess I can let it pass. (I think having a 7 year old nephew has skewed my expectations a bit, because I can totally imagine him going through my pockets for a piece of gum or something and leaving my wallet behind, in much the same manner.)

    • Pardon, I mean that I doubt anyone who claims Christianity in a movie like this would be genuinely treated as falsely hiding under it to get away with bad behaviors. As in treated as such by the narrative itself, not just by Larry’s complaints. He makes that point but I have no doubt that by the end all his complaints are going to be treated as completely without grounding, and any treatment to the contrary before the end is just for drama’s sake. (Well. “Drama.”)

    • Maybe there’s a conceit that if someone of the opposite sex greets you consistently, it can ONLY be because they have romantic plans towards you?

  7. You see the terbil things that happen to you when you’re an Atheist whose mother works Outside the Home? You go to jail! Women don’t fawn over you!

    “Hey, it’s your life that’s on the line tonight. You just don’t know it yet. These burgers came from Honest Ron’s House of Discount Meats. How else you do think I can afford to do a meatloaf special for five bucks?”

    • You see the terbil things that happen to you when you’re an Atheist whose mother works Outside the Home? You go to jail! Women don’t fawn over you!

      It’s weird to see a work of contemporary American Christian fiction that doesn’t traffic in the “Christians as persecuted minority” narrative common to this genre. In most Christian films, I’d expect Unnamed Female Coworker to suffer distrust and ridicule in a fallen, secular world that hates Jesus freaks. But in this film she’s a “nice Christian girl” and management gives her the benefit of the doubt about everything. Where’s the martyr complex I’m so used to seeing?

      I wonder if it has to do with the target audience. When aimed at unbelievers, as Late One Night appears to be, the tone is “Join the Christian majority, we have privileges”. When Christians write fiction for themselves, it’s “We’re lone martyrs in a heathen wilderness”.

      • Makes sense to me. Something like this just points out how much the other media that the community has looked at aren’t pitched at making converts — all the signifiers are there for the people who are already in, and could use a bit of shoring-up on their worldview.

      • I dunno, I felt the ‘if you are a nice believer, angry atheists will pick on you, taking out their obvious self-hatred of their sinful nature on you’ was a kind of martyr proxy.

  8. Late One Night, aka My Dinner with Jesus.

    Let me be clear about something, in light of events to come: this is as far as it has ever gone. A casual greeting. Hi.

    Jeepers, the man’s a blue-collar Rayford Steele. Minus the controlling, predatory creep factor.

    Hey, am I wrong, but does this film have not one, nor even two, but THREE Magical Negro characters?

  9. lolololol this guy. He’s the “one of the 144,000” in this other low-budget crappy Rapture movie. I’m totally gonna review it in a couple hours.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, July 7th, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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