Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Brigham City

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and thematic material

Reviewed by: Ken James
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Mormon Murder Mystery
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2001

Starring: Richard Dutcher, Matthew Brown, Wilford Brimley, Carrie Morgan, John Enos, Tayva Patch, Wendy Gardiner, Sterling Brimley, Frank Gerrish | Written, Produced and Directed by: Richard Dutcher | Distributor: Zion Films

Christians have known for a long time that film can be a powerful medium to communicate truths of the gospel. There is a long history of Christian films that range the spectrum in quality, but today’s Christian films seem to be finally reaching that higher level of quality important if it ever hopes to reach the masses.

“Brigham City” seems to be to the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) community what “Mercy Streets” was to the Christian. The drama and technical expertise reaches a level that can be enjoyed by the average moviegoer while subtle (and not so subtle) spiritual teachings are included without all the excessive violence, nudity, or language.

Richard Dutcher is the force behind “Brigham City”: he’s the Writer, Producer, Director, and Lead Actor! His sleeper God’s Army film focusing on Mormon missionaries in L.A. surprised many by grossing more at the box office then was expected. Dutcher’s performance is compelling and he is obviously talented. I was floored to learn that the pic was created for a mere $1 mil!

In the story, Dutcher plays the role of Sheriff (and one of 18 town Bishops in the local Mormon community) in the family-friendly town of Brigham City, Utah. It’s a sleepy town where everyone knows each other and just about everyone seems to be happy and content. There’s never been a murder in this town… until now. And it’s not just one. A serial killer is “among the flock” and it’s up to the law enforcement to find out who it is.

“Brigham City” is strong in quality and will leave you guessing. It has all the right elements for a great story, yet made me strangely feel like what a non-Christian must feel like watching a Christian evangelistic film. Or, in this case, a “proselytizing” film. While this film doesn’t get much into Mormon doctrine, it shows town residents in various church activities: several LDS church services, a baptism scene, comments made regarding Mormon missionaries and baptisms they’ve brought about through new church converts, prayers, etc. In fact, for those who don’t know about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and why it is considered by mainstream Christianity to be a “cult” group, this film could be very dangerous. The families shown are obviously very loving and devoted, the community spirit strong—the kind of town you’d love to grow up in.

Christians who are interested in learning more about the LDS culture and community will find in “Brigham City” a goldmine of information with exact portrayals of many facets of a Mormon’s life. From the terminology used (Bishop, Elder, Deacon, baptism, confession, etc.)

This kind of film is certainly on the right track morally (as I’m sure Zion Film’s other releases God’s Army and “The Other Side of Heaven” are as well.) Yet because it portrays the Mormon church in a positive light, I cannot recommend it for the average viewer. I have nothing against Mormons as individuals: they make great neighbors and friends (I’m based in Mesa, AZ). Yet because of the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price’s teachings that go against what the Bible teaches in regards to the nature of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and salvation through grace, their gospel is false and anything that promotes this church cannot be supported by biblical Christians.

Viewer Comments
Positive—I believe this is a great film. It does not have any of the bad elements that flood our children’s minds. There is only one problem—the Mormon teaching in it such as when in what appears to be a grown up Sunday School they try to figure out something in the Bible… instead of giving the obvious solution (Christ is God) they go to the Book of Mormon. That is one that has not yet been been mentioned. Other than that great movie.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Tim Callow
Positive—This is a wonderful Christian movie. …The scene at the end is extremely powerful. It teaches the basic truth that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is REAL. We can be forgiven if we are truly penitent. What the Bishop did was not an evil act, he did what needed to be done in his position as Sheriff. Contrary to the other review, I did not think there was anything in this movie that contradicted Christianity. It is a great movie, well done and although there is a dark side (murder) to the movie, over-all, I left the movie with tears in my eyes, and gratitute in my heart for my Savior Jesus Christ.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Amy, age 28