Metascore
60

Mixed or average reviews - based on 16 Critics What's this?

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6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

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  • Summary: From producer Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") and director Rob VanAlkemade comes a serious docu-comedy about the commercialization of Christmas. Bill Talen was a lost idealist who hitchhiked to New York City only to find that Times Square was becoming a mall. Spurred on by the loss of hisFrom producer Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") and director Rob VanAlkemade comes a serious docu-comedy about the commercialization of Christmas. Bill Talen was a lost idealist who hitchhiked to New York City only to find that Times Square was becoming a mall. Spurred on by the loss of his neighborhood and inspired by the sidewalk preachers around him, Bill bought a collar to match his white caterer's jacket, bleached his hair and became the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping. Since 1999, Reverend Billy has gone from being a lone preacher with a portable pulpit preaching on subways, to the leader of a congregation and a movement whose numbers are well into the thousands.
    Through retail interventions, corporate exorcisms, and some good old-fashioned preaching, Reverend Billy reminds us that we have lost the true meaning of Christmas. What Would Jesus Buy? is a journey into the heart of America – from exorcising the demons at the Wal-Mart headquarters to taking over the center stage at the Mall of America and then ultimately heading to the Promised Land … Disneyland. (Palisades Pictures)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. 83
    The stripped-down filmmaking preserves the abruptness and surprise of the happy (and unhappy) accidents Reverend Billy finds at every stop along the way, from Manhattan to Anaheim.
  2. The character isn't just shtick, though. As Billy, Talen has staged many protests in Times Square and anti-shopping "interventions" at retailers, where the managers, to say nothing of the New York police, often have failed to see the humor - he's been arrested dozens of times.
  3. 70
    Must-see viewing for anyone who thinks of Christmas as just a mall and its night visitors.
  4. Fairly entertaining, repetitive exhortations of a televangelist who looks like Kurt Russell playing Elvis Presley with 12 additional teeth.
  5. Despite effective moments, VanAlkemade's film is too diffuse. He gives us snippets of the group's spirited performances, but their effect on audiences remains unclear.
  6. 33
    It's neither conceptually bold nor slyly satirical when Billy dresses up as a Southern evangelical and sings made-up hymns about "the shopacalypse."

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. EB
    Dec 5, 2007
    10
    Believe it or not, I saw Rev Billy on C-Span first. It took a minute to know what the hell was going on and I started to lose it - Believe it or not, I saw Rev Billy on C-Span first. It took a minute to know what the hell was going on and I started to lose it - Changealluhah! Director Spurlock is one of the few public Americans I'm truly proud of - great interview with him by Mike Papintonio you can see on AirAmerica or GoLeftTV. Expand
  2. MatthewR.
    Nov 16, 2007
    10
    I loved this film and pray that it gets out to a lot of audiences. Very important for our consumer culture to hear this message, especially I loved this film and pray that it gets out to a lot of audiences. Very important for our consumer culture to hear this message, especially when the messenger is so funny! Changelujah! Expand
  3. FrankC
    Nov 29, 2008
    3
    Starts off with a strong message about debt and consumerism, but quickly goes wildly off tangent. Wal-Mart and Starbucks, much maligned by Starts off with a strong message about debt and consumerism, but quickly goes wildly off tangent. Wal-Mart and Starbucks, much maligned by neo-Liberals, are not the root of the consumption problem. Our government and the quasi-governmental Federal Reserve deserve most of the blame for their continued manipulation of credit to encourage consumption over saving. Rev Billy has no respect for private property and needs to stop harassing people engaged in voluntary transactions. Expand

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