A Movie Character To Whom You Can Relate
Considering my current line of work, my mind immediately went to two films about security guards. Paul Blart Mall Cop and Observe and Report. In case you don’t know, I work security for UPS at their Worldport facility. But I don’t take my job as seriously as either of those characters. Then I thought of the numerous caricatures of ministers in popular culture and couldn’t in good faith (pardon the pun) align myself with the likes of the cross-dressing, peep-show visiting, homicidal Rev. Peter Shayne (played by Anthony Perkins) in Crimes of Passion, to the faith-challenged Father Karras in The Exorcist, and the fornicating Rev. Russell in Simon Birch. If I could choose a television character, I might pick Rev. Camden from 7th Heaven. I always liked him.
The best portrayal of a solid, faithful movie pastor that I have seen in recent years was Preacher from Because of Winn-Dixie. Played by Jeff Daniels, Preacher is a deep character with personal problems. He was abandoned by his wife because she no longer wanted to be married to a pastor, now he is lonely. He loves and wants to care for his little small-town flock. He has a sincere desire to find ways to make God’s Word meaningful to his congregation, and buries himself in his work. Because of this, he frequently lacks time for his daughter, but we can tell that he deeply loves her. He gets angry. He is unashamed to pray in public. In other words, he is human. He is flawed, but he is trying to do what is right. It is a shame that characters like Preacher, who accurately reflect many pastors, emerge so infrequently in film. But the fact is, most of the time, pastors simply don’t exist in the landscape of film. When these pastors do not appear where they should in the cultural landscape, it conveys the idea that they are irrelevant, inconsequential, or worse, completely absent from thought. The assumption is that pastors are unnecessary.
At this junction of my life I feel like an average Joe. I frequently give advice to a group of misfits. I’m a funny guy who tends to take a laid-back approach to life. With that being said, I can relate to Peter LaFleur from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Peter La Fleur, played by the excellent Vince Vaughn, operates a small gym called Average Joes. The opening scenes in Average Joes could have very well used the theme song from the television sitcom, Cheers, a place where everybody knows your name. Too bad Peter has been too busy developing genuine friendships to hone his business sense. Average Joes is in foreclosure unless they can come up with $50,000. To do this, these averages will have to become something extraordinary. And Peter La Fleur must step out in faith, and put everything of value to him on the line.
This is a tough question. It calls for a lot of introspection. Do you have a character from a film that resonates with you? Perhaps you are a history professor who searches for cultural artifacts in your spare time? Or maybe you are secretly harboring an extra terrestrial in your closet that badly wants to phone home? Either way, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.