The Judas Project
1990, PG-13 Directed by James H. Barden.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 5, 1993
Eternal Life is what you'll need to make it through this modern-garbed passion play. The Judas Project tells the story of Jesus in modern drag. This time out, the Son of God is named Jesse. He's a faith healer and a leader who teaches that love is the only real power. This modern Jesse is a Dockers kind of guy with a five o'clock shadow and hair by Paul Mitchell. It's a good thing that most people coming in already know the basic story because if they had to rely on the movie alone they'd be mighty damn confused. Some nasty world conglomerate wants to exploit Jesse's popularity for their own ends. But what popularity? His flock never expands beyond a couple dozen faithful. He walks through the city streets unrecognized. The filmmakers have managed to retell this 2000-year-old workhorse of a story with nary a trace of the original drama and emotion. Not unless you count the heavy-handed literalism that lunges every so often through this earnest miasma. Apart from the weighty piety of the dialogue as written, there is the unendurable amount of time the dialogue takes for delivery. Sentences move forward with all the speed of the second coming. But should you get bored while waiting around for a verb, you can entertain yourself with the music -- which is bountiful. Director Barden is also responsible for most of the music (as well as executive producing). It sounds like it was written by a Barry Manilow wannabe who wants to make the whole church sing. And sing. Clearly, there's nothing but good intentions fueling this project. Yet even an audience filled with good intentions and glad tidings will need the patience of Job to last the 90 minutes. At its best, The Judas Project resembles a Kodak moment; at its worst, a season in purgatory.