"Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory"
This film is a mockumentary of a cult counting down their final days towards the end of this world as they are being filmed by a local videographer. Jim Gaffigan plays Ivy Vaughn, a local man that videotapes weddings and bar mitzvahs for a living, when he meets a young man named Isaac Melnick (played by David Moscow) while filming a bar mitzvah in the town of Endsville, NY. Isaac starts ranting on camera about the end of the world, Quellish and the Reverend Caleb Solar, and Ivy is intrigued enough to pay a visit to the Compound for the Divine Order of Faithful Servants (The DOoFS). What he finds when he arrives is the perfect subject for a documentary that will launch him on his way as a real film maker and allow his escape from his dull existence in Endsville, NY, a town that has definitely seen better days.
As Ivy settles in to the Compound and the DOoFS, he begins to interview each member separately and figure out why anyone would join a doomsday cult. Through his camera we meet the various oddballs that make up the DOoFS, from the Reverend's right hand man, Kenneth Thith (Alan Ruck), a man that has spent his entire life in cults, Doug Doug (David Warshofsky), Elizabeth Wilberforce (Laraine Newman), an abandoned house-frau, the Reverend's beautiful, teenaged, half-sister, Nicola McCoy (Tracy Hutson), a failed accountant, Terry Festinger (Ethan Phillips), a drunken Englishman by the name of Neville Asquith (Graeme Malcolm) and the angry young man, Isaac Melnick. The Most Honorable Reverend Caleb Solar (Kyle Secor) remains tantalizingly aloof to Ivy, never submitting to his camera except for the most brief moments. So Ivy mostly learns about Caleb through the other DOoFS. Later the DOoFS are joined by an architect named Shawn Walker (Dwight Ewell), who answers an ad in the local paper to help them build an Ark.
The Honorable Reverend Caleb Solar was a used-car salesman that heard the voice of God via the local weather girl, Lisa Swayzak (played by Debbie Matenopoulos), one day after experiencing a very bad day (referred to in the film as "The Confluence of Horror" WHUP!). He becomes convinced that this world is about to end in a Biblical flood called "Quellish" and begans to call others to join him. The role of Caleb Solar was a major departure for Kyle Secor, best known as Tim Bayliss on Homicide. I expected him to stand out in this role as he does in everything else he did, but there were so many great performers that he was merely one of many great actors. His performance as Caleb is restrained. He plays Caleb with many different facets, in turn enigmatic and charismatic as he lures in followers, cranky and dour when bugged with details and squabbling among members, mysterious and aloof much of the time and completely wild as he loses it totally and starts yelling pick-up lines at women out of the window of the DOoFS bus. Secor also has one of the funniest scenes in the film when his followers force him to explain what exactly happened during the "Confluence of Horrors."
Alan Ruck as Kenneth Thith gives obsessive-compulsive new meaning as the tightly-wound man that really makes everything happen at the Compound. He has several outstandingly funny bits, one where he is ironing Caleb's shirts and telling Ivy he shouldn't even be looking at Caleb's shirts much less touching them and another time when he is explaining why Caleb had no luck with the opposite sex in high school. He also gives the impression of being madly in love with Caleb.
As Neville Asquith, Graeme Malcolm plays a befuddled, over educated, upper class Brit most convincingly. His easy-going and drunken state make him an odd choice as a cult member.
If his performance in this film is any indication, Jim Gaffigan will be a huge star on his new television show, "Welcome To New York." He plays Ivy with an endearing goofiness and sweetness that counterbalances Ivy's cynicism over "Quellish." He develops a bit of a crush on Nicola along with most of the men and he has many funny scenes in the movie, a natural comedian.
David Moscow as Isaac was a ball of anger that exploded occasionally in the funniest ways. He was intense and incredibly loyal to the group. I was laughing so hard I was crying when he started ranting on camera about Quellish and El Agua. Wouldn't want to get on Isaac's bad side.
Ethan Phillips' performance as Terry Festinger is very different than the way we are used to viewing him on Star Trek Voyager as Neelix. He was outstanding as the strange little accountant that ends up pilfering the group's funds and spending them on God knows what.
His comedic timing is great in this role.
Loraine Newman shows in "Endsville" that she still has the same wonderful acting abilities and timing that made her famous on Saturday Night Live. She plays Elizabeth with lots of suppressed emotions bubbling just below the surface and you can tell she's gonna blow like a volcano one day. Her melt-down at the kitchen table and shared kiss with Caleb make for two of her most hysterical moments.
Doug Doug is portrayed by David Warshofsky with masterful vacantness. But as the film goes on you get the impression that Doug is not a stupid as he first appears. When Elizabeth and Neville ask for help with the dinner dishes one night, he trots out a scripture to support why his helping out would actually be sinful and lead to death. He constantly carries about a children's illustrated Bible.
Tracy Hutson plays Nicola, a young woman highly aware of her own beauty, who is eager to manipulate the men in her life with it. In one sequence she talks Terry into allowing her to buy tons of junk food even though the group is on a tight budget and everyone else has been told no, by merely pouting seductively and saying "Please" as Terry Festinger melts beneath her gaze.
But the show stealer is Judd Nelson as Rufus The Buck Toothed Sluggard, the perverted farmer who lives next door to the group. You could say that he has a "special" relationship with his livestock. He is amazing and very surprising in this role.
William Fitchner plays rival cult leader Prince Victor Diamond and is convincing in the few moments he has onscreen.
The ending of the movie was touching and sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone.
For Behind the Scenes Info on the film, Click Here.