Kirk and his monument.Last night Kirk Cameron's docu-evangelical movie Monumental opened for one night only in select theaters nationwide, so I went. During his tenure on Growing Pains, Mike Seaver learned a lot of valuable lessons (never date a Madonna look alike, never bet on horses and never ever ride a dirt bike with Boner). Last night, it was my turn.
Monumental follows Kirk's pilgrimage through the history of America's first puritan settlers. He goes from his the backyard to England, Holland and eventually Plymouth Rock and Washington D.C. in search of what he calls a "game plan" for rebuilding our country, which he worries is about to spontaneously combust. Why? Teen pregnancy, tolerance of sexual diversity and self-expression, lack of religion in schools and kids with dyed hair and piercings. That's not all Kirk's movie taught me. I also learned...
1. A lot of New Yorkers that went to see Monumental were reporters.
Despite the movie being open to the public, it felt more like a press screening with hipster journalists holding recorders and interviewing the wrong people (me and my fellow reporter friends) about the movie. In no big surprise, Kirk's audience on the isle of Manhattan is largely people who want to see if he's going to say something weird.
2. Kirk throws quite the party
Before the movie even started, Kirk broadcast a live-stream cocktail-free cocktail party from his living room. Sitting on the couch in his den (dappled in Pier 1 candles and a coffee table book on dogs), were some supporters of the film, including pro-life activist Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., who's made controversial comments in the past about how her uncle would share her beliefs, despite very, very strong evidence to the contrary. Also in Kirk's living room was musician Warren Barfield who played a song about staying married on his guitar, and caused Kirk to bite his lower-lip and squint his eyes in "rockin' out" face. This was a sign of things to come: the movie was 75 percent close-ups of Kirk's face.
He opens the film with a bold statement: he's going to retrace the steps of the puritans, by going where no man has gone before. England! That's right, the place you can fly to direct, where people speak the same language. After he meets with a very animated puritan historian across the pond he has another announcement: he's taking a ferry to Holland! Both announcements are enhanced with the sound effect of a boulder being dropped. He saves the announcement that he's heading to Boston to spice up the movie's half-way point.
4. It's easy to blow Kirk's mind
If you've ever read about the first pilgrims on Plymouth rock, you know times were tough for them. Kirk apparently didn't. When it's explained by a historian that they were stuck on boat called the Mayflower (with some TMI details about the excessive "barfing" on the ship) Kirk is alarmed. "Whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute, what?" The movie would be about 45 minutes if you took out the constant processing Kirk needs to do with some fairly general knowledge.
5. When Kirk's mind is blown he makes this face
6. Kirk thinks Pilgrims, not Native Americans, have been shafted in history class.
Kirk's elementary school must have been the most progressive institution in America. By his account native Americans got plenty of airtime in class, but pilgrims were generally a side-bar where they were described as meek and scrawny. In Monumental it's a very different story. Native Americans and their relationship with the first settlers are addressed in about 2 minutes flat ("not perfect"). The first mention of their presence in the movie is predicated with the adjective "hostile." In contrast, puritans, Kirk learns, are superheroes. He discovers this when he spends about a third of the movie looking at a statue at Plymouth rock that portrays the early settlers as Hercules. "This guy is a stud!" Kirk enthuses. Twice.
7. Kirk thinks a statue is more important than the Constitution
The thing that blows Kirk's mind the most is this statue at Plymouth rock. Twenty minutes are devoted to walking around it excitedly with Marshall Foster, director of the Mayflower Institute. From it Kirk extrapolates the following: Christianity is the only way to have a civil society, everyone should be home-schooled, puritans were jacked (see #6), and women should be mothers by the time they're 25.
8. Kirk would not approve of Susan B. Anthony
In Kirk's history lesson of early settlers, women mostly get shipped out on boats by men and get sick. They don't really do any of the strategizing or heavy lifting. That's my first clue that Kirk and Susan wouldn't be besties. Clue number 2 came when Kirk meets with vintage bible collector David Barton, and is excited to learn that some of the country's first leaders weren't all godless heathens. Moving forward he thinks Americans would be better off if our leaders all believed in the exact thing he believes in, okay? Susan B. the woman who helped half of us get to vote, was not religious later in her life. By Kirk's reasoning, that would be a problem.
9. Kirk thinks all men should be treated as equal, as long as those men are Christian and also men
The thesis of the longest movie ever is that we should act exactly like the first puritans who landed on Plymouth rock if we want to save our country. The fact that there were only about 17 people, who were living in extremely dire circumstances is not really a consideration. Neither is the fact that women didn't have a say and everyone was ethnically and literally off the Mayflower.
10. Kirk is doing this whole thing for you, so you will buy his books, DVDs and home-schooling kits
Really. At the end of the movie, Kirk patched in via live-stream and told the audience how they could take what they've just learned and apply it to purchasing things from his website. Then, mid-sentence, the screen went dark.
11. If you ever see Monumental, leave immediately after it ends
After Kirk's technical issue, we all sat in darkness waiting for something else weird to happen until it did. A woman stood up in the back of the theater and began a sermon on how we've all lost our way, what with "teens getting jiggy." Some people in the theater agreed. I saw one guy, a reporter of course, tape recording her speech making that "this is priceless" face. That didn't make me feel any better because as potentially unhinged as this spontaneous preacher was (she also over-shared about being locked in a psych ward) she was having herself a moment.
12. Never get the nachos at a movie, no matter how hungry you are
I did this and I regret it. So does my friend who I spilled nacho cheese on. So does the family next to me who almost slipped on it when they left the theater. I'm sorry.