I watched Jesus Camp over the weekend. I remember Roeper and his guest critic of the week giving the film two thumbs up, but I can’t say I would have done the same.
The movie suffered from a lack of clear storytelling direction – it began with a look at a one-week Bible camp organized by an Evangelical Children’s Preacher, with some interviews with the kids attending the camp. I was expecting the directors to use this event as the main plotline of the movie, with, in typical documentary fashion, several linked peripheral stories told here and there. But this wasn’t the case, as the screen randomly jumped to Mike Papantonio, a radio talk show host commenting on the radical nature of some Evangelicals, and then to a sermon by Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Unlike anything by Michael Moore (arguably not the gold standard of documentary makers, but undoubtedly very good at ensuring the audience understands the point he is trying to make), the movie ended without a clear message. Perhaps the directors wanted the audience to judge for themselves, and simply wanted to capture and present a day in the life of these children, but to me, it felt as if the movie didn’t know its own purpose.