My Scientology Movie (2017)

Just watch EWTN. Much better and less controversial, honestly.

Scientology has been as controversial for as long as it’s been around. And as it begins to grow and grow, more members do find themselves leaving. But why? Or better yet, just what the hell is Scientology all about? What does a Scientologist believe in? And are all the myths about it true? All of those questions and more get answered here, courtesy of Louis Theroux, a British journalist who takes a huge interest in Scientology and decides to stage his own film-version of first-hand accounts of what goes on in Scientology. Mark Rathbun, a fellow Scientologist, helps Louis out in figuring out more and more about the so-called “religion”, but in doing so, also raises alarms for those involved with Scientology and don’t take too kindly to others making movies about their well-being.

“Anything you can do, I can do better.”

After the comprehensive job Going Clear did, it’d be hard to really tackle the subject of Scientology again. Cause obviously, yes, we get it: It’s not a real religion, it’s filled with evil, disillusioned people, and yeah, it’s just bad news all around. As the years have gone by and more people have been leaving it, the more access we get to figuring out just what the hell it’s all about, as well as why people are still drawn to it, even despite all of these obvious issues being out there in the press, for the whole world to see and take notice of.

And that’s why My Scientology Movie, while sometimes funny and admirable, also feels a little unnecessary. While Louis Theroux makes it a point not to necessarily make this a behind-the-scenes, eye-opening account of Scientology, as a whole, he still doesn’t bring much of anything new to the discussion, either. If anything, My Scientology Movie shows that even those, like Mark Rathburn, who get kicked-out of Scientology, may still be hard-firmed believers – they just don’t have the whole sponsorship to go along with it.

So aside from that, yeah, My Scientology Movie is a pretty standard documentary that doesn’t go too deep, but also doesn’t really act like it wants to do that, either.

It’s sort of what is and that’s fine. Theroux himself does help the movie out because, even when push comes to shove, and the Scientology people are getting so in his face, he still stays cool, calm, collected, and pretty funny. It helps that he’s a bit out-of-place, being this tall, lean, relatively dorky Brit in the hot, steamy sun of L.A., but it’s nice to see a documentarian who doesn’t find it necessary to constantly get by on crazy stunts, or by constantly being the center of attention. And even though this is an obvious dig at Michael Moore, honestly, his presence is sometimes needed for the material he develops; Theroux doesn’t really need to be there, except to help give us a conduit to everything and as that, he’s fine.

Take ’em down, Louis!

Although when it comes to the recreation of Scientology and Theroux making his own “movie”, My Scientology Movie sort of falls flat. It’s a neat idea, for sure, but it never really goes anywhere; once again, if anything, this portion of the movie just makes you sit and wonder about how desperate some of these actors are, that they don’t even know what they’re getting themselves into, or are even portraying. It seems like a lot of Theroux’s intended motives here, didn’t quite work out, but instead, pivoted on a better, much more interesting idea.

But like I said, there’s just not that much development.

We know Scientology is awful and we know that the people involved with it, no matter what their status as a celebrity may be, are also a little nutty. We’ve seen this before, we see it here, and yeah, it’s nothing new. It’s still entertaining and relatively shocking to see, but it’s old fruit that constantly keeps getting bitten into. Is there more out there about this “religion” to find out about and investigate? Sure, but perhaps My Scientology Movie isn’t that step.

At least not right now.

Consensus: Despite a clear attempt to really get down and deep into the religion, My Scientology Movie also doesn’t have anything new to say, but is entertaining enough because who doesn’t enjoy poking fun at Scientology?

6 / 10

We are all Scientologists, essentially. Right?

Photos Courtesy of: The AV ClubFlickering MythIndieWire

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