So Bad It’s Netflix #27: Mercy Rule

So what if the their Spielberg collection consists of Amistad and Hook? Who cares if the only Altman films they have are Three Women and Ready to Wear? What Netflix does have in abundance is garbage. It’s time to surrender and celebrate it. This isn’t so bad it’s good… this is so bad it’s Netflix. 

Mercy Rule (2014)

In Mercy Rule, Kirk Cameron is John Miller, a salt-of-the-earth guy with a beautiful family, a thriving business, a mansion with a pool, and god on his side. However, Miller’s son Cody, introducing his family in voiceover, assures us his family isn’t perfect. “It isn’t all grapefruit fights and laughing at the table, it’s… well, just wait and see.” Gotcha. So I should just sit here and watch the movie? Thanks for the heads up.

“Wait and see” is the key phrase here when it comes to Mercy Rule. You’ll be waiting a hell of a long time to not experience much of anything, and, being a solid two hours long, Mercy is in no hurry to get absolutely nowhere. At the most, Mercy should have been a sitcom on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, where it could have been Modern Family for folks afraid to watch Modern Family. It is clear from the start that Mercy is a passion project and a labor of love for Cameron which can only mean one thing; it’s a misguided embarrassment that could have been stopped if just a couple people dared to say no to him.

Mercy might have the weirdest subject matter I’ve ever seen in any movie. The film is about two things and two things only; little league baseball and the intricacies of running a scrapyard business. The way it plays out, there’s about one hour forty minutes of baseball and twenty minutes of scrapyard drama. Should we be thankful it’s not the other way around? Perhaps. The film seems wise enough to not focus on the incredibly detailed legal ramifications of running a scrapyard for too long, but at the same time, all that baseball action is immediately D.O.A.

Imagine watching an entire little league game of, say, a co-worker’s eleven year old son. Now take out all of the nail-biting excitement. Mercy‘s baseball scenes are shot in crisp HD, very badly, by some kind of monkey. Why all the baseball, anyway? Well, Cody is having a crisis out there in the field. He wants to pitch but his hard headed coach is against it. Also, Cody has a problem praising his teammates performances and would rather than just sulk at his own failings. Are we being taught a lesson about good sportsmanship? A thirty second PSA would have sufficed. In the slam-bangiest ending you will ever see, Cody’s team wins the big game. But wait, it’s not over yet. Post-game, Miller treats the kids to a town meeting, where he must defend his business against increased regulation. Fuck pizza and ice cream.

Let’s go to the So Bad It’s Bullet Points!

  • A Desperate Plea for Enjoyment

Mercy Rule doesn’t do itself any favors by having Cameron address the audience at the outset. That’s right folks, Mr. Christian is going to speak directly to you. Cameron tells us he wanted to make a movie that is “Fun, exciting, something that builds our faith in god and our strength as a family.” Talk about a tall order. This is way too much to ask from a film is it not? Most of us watch movies so we don’t die from boredom and that’s about it. It’s definitely a strange decision to open your film with an explanation, although after viewing the film we’re thankful that Cameron at least tried to explain what the fuck Mercy Rule is since we have no idea. Cameron practically pleads with us to enjoy ourselves. He even orders us to “get your popcorn out!” Your not the boss of me, Kirk, and no amount of popped corn is going to make this shit show go down easy. Cameron really damns himself by promising “excitement” and “lots and lots of fun.” Although by “lots” I think he he means actual lots filled with scrap iron.

  • The Women of Cameron Manor

Little league, scrapyards and the problems of men and boys; that’s all Mercy Rule has time for. Father and son are on the ropes and in for the challenge of their lives. But what of the females in the family? There’s plenty of running time to devote to female issues here but Mr. Cameron couldn’t be less concerned. Cameron’s wife (real life wife Chelsea Cameron) and daughter are there to support the men, not to experience their own problems. Mom and sister literally sit on the sidelines and cheer through the whole movie. Mom is so obsessed about how Cody is being treated on the field that she meets Cameron at a swanky Rubios restaurant to discuss it, practically in tears. You’d think a fourteen year old girl would have several issues and challenges of her own to share, but sickeningly enough, when sister isn’t at the ball game cheering her little bro on, she’s at home, lovingly watching Cody practice his pitching in the backyard.

  • There is no God (in this Christian movie)

Besides a short shot of the family praying at the dinner table during the opening credits, Jesus/god is never even mentioned in Mercy. This lack of God talk is obviously an attempt to please “regular” film-goers; as if a non-religious movie fan would ever give Mercy the time of day. The film has time for lengthy “make your own sundaes” and “family pancake breakfast” sequences but no time for the big man upstairs, or, for example, a simple  “going to church” scene. In all seriousness, I would have appreciated some biblical quotes and New Testament parables sprinkled throughout; at least Mercy could then prove itself as a genuine Christian product. I bet christian audiences would have liked some sermonizing as well, instead of the occasional life lesson courtesy of a dead grandfather.

The Christianity in Mercy Rule manifest itself in certain ways, mostly from the rose-tinted lenses the thing is shot through. Cameron’s John Miller is a casual smoker but Cameron will not dare smoke on camera for fear of fan backlash. And in what else but a Christian movie would you hear the line, “Cold root beer… what an adventure!”

  • Kirk drops the mic

In the final town meeting scene (yep, there are several), with Cody’s entire team present, Cameron delivers an absolutely asinine speech and then drops the mic a la Chris Rock.

We are supposed to see this moment as triumphant, and yet this empty gesture has done nothing to unwind all the legal bullshit he was facing. And who’s going to pay for the broken mic? Our tax dollars?!


Next Time: What if Elvis’ twin bro had lived? The Identical (2014) sort of wants to know…