'Let There Be Light'
Kevin Sorbo was once Hercules. He marched proudly through the land with luscious locks, sick abs, and a desire to help his fellow man. The ’90s were a long time ago, but little has changed in Sorbo-land. The locks may be shorter and the abs flabbier, but he still marches and saves. Now he does it for Jesus.
Hey, fair enough. There’s nothing wrong with devoting yourself to faith for the good of others. Sorbo, however, is doing it for cash. Big cash. Movie cash. Making millions off selling crappy melodramas to families desperate for Christian fun on family film night and church basements hawking televisual proselytizing. It’s been done before. That’s where Stephen Baldwin went (if you were wondering) and where Kirk Cameron keeps his plastic smile. But Sorbo’s movies aren’t just horrendous, they also make a fortune – too much money given how grossly manipulative they are. If you thought his infamous ‘God’s Not Dead’ was a rough ride, just wait until you lay your unfortunate eyes on ‘Let There Be Light’. This just might be Sorbo’s masterpiece.
In a shocking turn of events, Sorbo plays an atheist in this turd. (Yes, just like in ‘God’s Not Dead’. But shhhh! Don’t tell anyone.) He’s a superstar atheist named Dr. Sol Harkens who travels around debating silly Christians who dare question his immoral genius. His message (and I’m not joking or exaggerating) centers on embracing sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll over all that goofy God stuff. His big line that he shouts to rounds of applause is, “Nobody ever killed anybody in the name of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. They just partied.” He then follows that up by evoking the true holy spirit by saying, “Party on, Wayne! Party On, Garth!” The college crowds eat it up, suggesting that this is a period piece taking place in 1993. Nope, as we’ll eventually learn, it takes place in a magical version of today where kids still love ‘Wayne’s World’, Kevin Sorbo is still relevant, and traveling atheists are the biggest blight on society! They must be stopped. Oh, I hate Sol Harkens sooooo much!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. As Sol is all too happy to admit in his many Frank T.J. Mackey-style Satanic sermons, there’s a reason for his cynicism towards the Lord. You see, Sol lost a son to cancer and his faith left too. How could God allow such a thing? Better party and become a high-end atheist. His ex-wife (Sam Sorbo, Kevin’s real wife) never lost her faith. She’s furious at her ex’s hard atheist ways, especially because of how it affects the kids. After Sol tries to dismiss her worries by stating that he pays the bills, she counters by asking, “But who pays the emotional bills?!” Because the dialogue in this film is fucking poetry.
Anyhoo, soon Sol’s hard-partying atheism leads him straight into a drunk driving accident. He has a dream while unconscious where his dead son appears to him in an embarrassingly cheap CGI light show. Somehow, after that he’s still not convinced. Fortunately, an ex-convict who fell in love with the Bible in prison shows up to drop gems of knowledge like, “People are getting whacked like it’s the Middle Ages.” (All non-WASPs in the movie are ethnic sterotypes.) That puts Sol on the straight-and-narrow. He and his wife even get back together and come up with a ludicrous plan to have people shine flashlights into the sky on the darkest night of the year, use social media to organize it worldwide, and then get NASA to take pictures from space. Obviously, that doesn’t make any sense, but does it happen? You betcha! Everything seems great until director Kevin Sorbo (that’s right, double duty) decides to cram in one more exploitative melodramatic twist to get those tears raging.
Yes, this is a real movie. It counts. Sorbo meant it too. It’s also such an amateurish and exploitative mess that it’s impossible to take seriously for longer than ten consecutive seconds. The screenplay (co-written by Mrs. Sorbo) isn’t just a parade of clichés, it also feels like it was vetted by Fox News. The movie takes every chance it gets to suggest that atheists are pro-ISIS and that Muslims (every one of them at least 95% ISIS in the eyes of Sorbo-squared) need to embrace Christianity to be happy. Now, I’m no ISIS supporter (controversial stance, I know!), but the way the movie exploits a fear of ISIS to shill Christianity is embarrassing. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, some Chick-Fil-A product placement saves the sanctity of a Christian family. Then Sean Hannity shows up at the end because of course that greed- and attention-craving political pawn does. He’s probably personal friends with Sorbo. Other than the President, no one enjoys exploiting the fears of Good Christians for profit and power like those two.
Beyond all that politicized nonsense, the movie is just hackily made. Sorbo directs with all the craft and care he brought to his only previous directorial credits on ‘Hercules’. (He even tosses in some blatant ‘Hercules’ references because that’s how narcissism works.) His performance varies from “Wait, does that count as acting?” to “HOLY MOLY THAT’S A LOT OF ACTING!” No one else on screen is much better. The ridiculous ways the movie presents anyone other than Christians makes WWII propaganda cartoons feel subtle. The plotting makes Hallmark movies look like Shakespearian epics. Every frame of the film is total trash.
On the plus side, ‘Let There Be Light’ is so sincere and clueless that it plays as accidental comedy. At one point, a Christian rock slow jam takes over the soundtrack and, even though I knew it wasn’t actually Trey Parker belting out a ‘South Park’ parody, it sounded so much like one that I found myself giggling in hysterics. That’s true of most of the flick. There’s no need to ever parody a contemporary Christsploitation movie ever again. Kevin Sorbo made the funniest parody of this sad exploiting-faith-for-personal-profit genre that will ever exist. He just didn’t realize what he was doing. That makes it even funnier. Keep cranking out this crap, Mr. Sorbo. You just got yourself a new fan.