Control Nathan Rabin 4.0 #13 My Best Friend
Welcome, friends, to the lucky thirteenth entry in Control Nathan Rabin 4.0, the column where I give patrons who make a one-time one hundred dollar pledge to this website an opportunity to choose a film I must then watch and write about. So far it’s been working out swimmingly. It’s provided a much-needed influx of money into the site’s Patreon (which is particularly important with the birth of my second child literally mere days away) but it’s also given me an excuse to revisit soothingly familiar hot garbage from my wasted adolescence (Police Academy 3, Robin Hood: Men in Tights), finally check out sublime camp classics like Miami Connection and Rad and discover potential new camp oddities like the Pierce Brosnan-as-vaping-evil God murder-fuck-zombie shocker Urge.
2004’s My Best Friend is easily the oddest of the bunch, I did recently watched a movie for this column where Pierce Brosnan plays a vaping evil God who gives people a drug that turns them into fuck-crazed murder zombies. That at least qualified as a movie. A terribly, woefully and fascinatingly misguided movie, but a movie all the same.
My Best Friend falls short of even the most lenient standards for what constitutes a movie. It runs just under fifty five minutes. It does not have an IMDB page, though it is prominently referenced in its creator's obviously self-penned bio for the site. The “film” makers set the bar so low technically that during a “chase” scene I was genuinely surprised—and impressed—that they possessed the technical know-how to show two people running in the same frame. Acting-wise, the director seems content if his thespians remember their lines and recite them more or less in the order written. And if they don’t, no bid deal! Just because an actor visibly blows a line due to obvious nervousness doesn’t mean they need to waste everybody’s time with another take! This is show-business, baby! Run and gun!
For the adorably inept people behind My Best Friend, “close enough” isn’t just good enough: it’s better than can possibly be expected or demanded, as the “film” isn’t even in the same universe as adequacy.
No, My Best Friend exists entirely within the overlapping world of hilariously amateur moviemaking and Christian cinema. Watching it on Youtube, where it has wracked up 27 views in a little over three years felt a little like reading a screenplay from someone so staggeringly untalented that they barely have any business watching a movie, let alone writing one that might get made.
Let’s just put it this way: if The Office’s Michael Scott became a born again Christian and then decided to write, co-direct and star in a movie that reflected his faith but also allowed him to live out his action hero fantasies on a student film budget playing a kick-ass secret service agent, that movie would be My Best Friend.
The movie opens with a blurry close-up of an American flag and opening credits that include, “Based on a short story by Cody Urban” followed by “Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Not coincidentally, Cody also co-directed and stars in the gritty lead role of agent Madison. Our anti-hero is introduced looking through a scrapbook of hilariously fake-looking “news stories” of major events stretching from the JFK Assassination to the tragic events of 9/11 before stiffly introducing us to “Howard Madison. My dad. He was one of those heroes that people made a fuss over because he saved the life of a celebrity: President of the United States.”
We don’t learn which President the elder Agent Madison died saving but rest assured, it was undoubtedly one of the good ones. That’s probably why his son finds himself guarding the President a mere two weeks into the job.
The young agent, who appears to be in his late teens, gets some curious professional advice from colleague Agent Shoeman (Lewis Parrish), who tells the committed young Patriot that guarding the President is just a job, and certainly not worth risking, or laying down your life for.
Shoeman all but suggests that if Agent Madison wants to grab a hot dog while guarding the President, or listen to podcasts, and the Commander-in-Chief is killed on his watch, if won’t be that big of a deal and he’ll probably only get off just a warning. Besides, a year later people won’t even remember the name of the Secret Service Agent who let the President get killed because he was too busy tweeting or sexting his girlfriend.
This, friends, is a not so subtle clue that Shoeman might not be what he seems. Another early indication that Shoeman’s political allegiances may not lie with the red, white and blue comes when the Secret Service agent complains that cops and firefighters never get any praise or attention or public validation, only criminals and murderers and terrorists, and that you all but have to betray your country to Muslims to get your name in the paper.
What he’s saying is obviously true. Christ, if we romanticized cops and firefighters and secret service agents the way we do Osama Bin Laden there’d be lots of TV shows and movies about the heroism of cops and other law enforcement agents, kids would grow up wanting to be cops or firefighters or CIA agents and cars everywhere would be festooned with Blue Lives Matter bumper stickers or less problematic expression of support for the police. But nope, none of that shit exists. Maybe someday they’ll make a TV show about a heroic cop but for the last hundred years it’s been nothing but hit movies and TV shows about the greatness of terrorists and criminals.
Agent Madison loves his country. What he does not love is this bunk about Jesus. So when the President of the United States, who I will heretofore refer to as President Mullet Jesus, due to his Christ-like humility and “pious party in the front, righteous revel in the back” hairstyle says grace before a meal, Agent Madison scoffs so loud that people in neighboring zip codes can hear him simultaneously dishonored baby Jesus and his primary vessel on earth, President Mullet Jesus, reasoning via narration, "I initially figured that closing your eyes and asking nothingness to make your food nourish you, when the food that I eat does the same thing without this ignorant ritual, was in my eyes ridiculous. I didn’t know what would happen to me after that, after my disrespect to the President, but the dinner went on without a word."
If an underling were to scoff at Donald Trump publicly, he would order that man murdered, along with the rest of his family. That’s not how President Mullet Jesus rolls, however. He's Christ-like in his ways, whereas Trump is more Satanic. This loud public scoffing only instills in President Mullet Jesus a fierce, soul-consuming desire to share the Gospel of Christ and the ecstasy of eternal peace with a non-believing douche bag.
My Best Friend is rooted in a very curious fantasy: what if the President of the United States, the most powerful man on earth, was a groovy youth minister who privileged saving one jerky atheist’s soul over running the most powerful country on earth?
Agent Madison even manages to hold onto his job after letting one of two fiendishly non-white would-be assassins get away because the President knows that the most important job of any head of state is to relentlessly push the Gospel to one of their employees at the cost of literally everything else.
Meanwhile, there’s an international incident involving Syria. People are pushing the President to strike back militarily but he knows better than anyone that the United States is protected in all things by the most powerful anti-missile system ever: Christ’s love. Besides, there are more important things to worry about, like Agent Madison's eternal soul.
It turns out that Agent Shoeman is a traitor and, um, totally gave a fellow evil-non-white person the access code to get into the White House but before he can kill Agent Shoeman, newbie Secret Service Agent, President Mullet Jesus throws himself in front of the bullet.
This switcheroo has Agent Madison overwhelmed with emotion and shocked that for the first time in history, a leader died for his servant rather than the other way around.
Rather than take steps to, you know, possibly save his own life, President Mullet Jesus instead uses his ragged dying breaths to deliver the movie’s MESSAGE when, filled with Christ’s healing love, he pulls a full-on “Well, actually” and corrects his best friend’s contention that never before in the history of mankind has a king died for his (Secret) servant (agent).
President Mullet Jesus closes the film by droning righteously, “Actually, there was one man. He was a great King. I took this bullet to save your physical life. However, all people must die. The king who died, he did that for your spiritual life. By his sacrifice, he saved your immortal soul, and offered you eternal happiness. He was no mere President. Nothing could out-elect him. He was, and is, the King of Kings, and by his life you now live. The King was, and is, Jesus Christ. He died on the cross so that you can live. He was resurrected for all of us. He lives for us to call on him and accept him as our Lord and savior. I know for sure that I’m going to Heaven, but I had to make for sure you would.”
It was at this point that I stopped masturbatingly feverishly and knocked over the elaborate hookah I had been smoking opium from in surprise. Incidentally, I should probably have mentioned earlier that I was masturbating feverishly and smoking opium the entire time I watched the movie despite the movie being very non-sexy.
It was then, and only then, that I realized that this was all a fucking METAPHOR and that this wasn’t about any old fictional President: this was about JESUS and how, like the bible-thumper-in-Chief, he totally martyred himself for snotty little fuck faces who literally and loudly scoff at his true-ass teachings.
I would have so much respect for the filmmakers if what followed was our fiercely atheistic narrator narrating, “I was legitimately very annoyed that the President kept giving me the hard sell on Christianity even while he lay dying. I’m still a non-believer but I’m in therapy, I’m dating a single mother I really like and I’m in a basketball league. It helps me get out my aggression, and I’m taking meds for my PTSD and talking a lot more about my feelings instead of bottling everything up.”
Alas, the movie proceeds down a much different path. In a non-shocking turn of events, our anti-hero sees the light and devotes his life to God.
Ah, but our ant-hero isn’t done insulting the motherfucking PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, who recently, and with a beatific smile on his face, laid down his life so that his piece of shit employee could have a personal relationship with Jesus. The now former Secret Service Agent brags about how GOD is now his best friend and no one come close, not even that piece of shit human being President of the United States who died for him even though he was a total asshole to him.
In a beautiful book-end of warped show business narcissism masquerading unconvincingly as Christian humility before the Lord, Jesus Christ (from Christianity) is credited as the film’s co-director, alongside Cody Urban and Matthew Waltz.
It’s entirely possible that Jesus is a credit hog, and when Urban was praying to him for guidance in making this film and bringing this message to the masses, He pulled a total diva move and was all, “I’m going to need a co-directing credit, and “Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ” in the opening credits or I’m going to curse the production with non-existent production values, laughably bad acting and an overwhelming air of laughable amateurishness. The movie will turn out so badly that the only way anyone will ever hear about it is if someone pays a secular Jew a hundred dollars to mock it for some weird website.”
I imagine Urban was all, “Yikes. You got it, Big Man!”
It’s also possible that Jesus came down to Earth and was a hands-on co-director, coaching actors, setting up shots and punching up the script. If that is the case, then Jesus, I’m afraid that you didn’t do a very good job with your direction of My Best Friend. I’m sorry if that sounds sacrilegious but as I read in a book somewhere (it might have been one of yours!), the truth shall set you free and the truth is that sweet Lord (that would be you) does your movie ever suck.
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