Netflix Garage is me digging through Netflix’s film offerings and finding the ones whose titles or descriptions perplex me most.
At the end of a boring day, I decided to peruse through Netflix for something to watch. It’s like the fridge; you just keep opening it, hoping for something interesting. And like the fridge, sometimes Netflix offers you a nice lasagna and other times it offers a moldy avocado that rotted at the bottom of the vegetable crisper for three weeks. I decided to eat the avocado by watching I’m in Love with a Church Girl, starring Fyre Fest’s very own Ja Rule.
The film opens lovely shots of the water, followed by prison scenes. Ja Rule talks about God over it. So far, the credits have revealed that the film features Ja Rule, Michael Madsen, and Stephen Baldwin. Uh oh. Anyway, Ja Rule’s character, Miles, didn’t listen to God and that’s why he’s had a complicated life. It’s part of the “big plan.”
Miles takes us back to the halcyon days of 2009 when he was a big-time drug dealer. Miles and what I assume is his drug dealing gang are in a dark, dank den where the only source of light comes from UNDER the table. He tells his baseball capped crew that they need to watch themselves or the IRS will get them. They then put stacks of cash that they’ve had hidden in their pockets on the table.
Miles comes back home to say hi to his mother and put money in the safe. I have a suggestion for this film: If you’re doing quick cuts to show how HUGE the amount of money a person is putting into a safe, the money has to significantly increase. It looks like Miles is just haphazardly arranging his stacks.
After putting away the dirty haul, he relaxes with his mother. She expresses she wants to go to a Sandals resort. She also is in need of a grandkid and he should go to church to find a woman. Miles shuts down the church chat but tells her she should keep an eye out for his future mate.
We move on to a scene between a DEA chief and his two subordinates, Stephen Baldwin and Michael Madsen. They’re on the hunt for Miles’s baseball crew and the chief isn’t happy with their results. Stephen and Michael start rattling off ways in which Miles is richer than them which they consider highly suspicious. Chief threatens to shut the investigation down if they don’t start doing their work efficiently.
We cut back to Miles who is driving an expensive car that is worth two Stephen Baldwins. Something catches his eye: a woman. The music swells romantically. He almost gets into an accident because of this distraction and rather than take this as a sign that he should obey traffic laws, Miles proceeds to audition for The Fast and the Furious in an effort to catch the mystery woman. Instead of her, he gets a traffic cop.
Meanwhile, Stephen and Michael host a TED talk about Miles and his baseball team. It’s not particularly inspiring.
After presumably getting a speeding ticket, Miles attends a Fourth of July party thrown by his big American-Italian friend, Nick. Nick tells Miles that there’s more to life than money and the only reason he didn’t lose his family is because they made him go to church. A lecture is a cool way to kick off a barbecue.
While the guests pray over the food, Miles disrespects God by staring at a woman. The mystery woman he saw earlier is at this Fourth of July shindig, too! Her name is Vanessa and she goes to Bible study. Miles strikes up a conversation about church with Vanessa. The romantic music swells.
They exchange phone numbers and promise to not play games.
Vanessa visits Miles’s home for a date. Unfortunately for Miles, Stephen Baldwin is spying on him and commenting on his visitor’s attractiveness.
The next day, Miles visits Vanessa at work which I think is a Christian Hot Topic. The store is WAY too busy for a Hot Topic, religious or not. Vanessa gives him the gift of Christian music. If this hasn’t put off Miles from pursuing Vanessa, nothing will.
Miles decides to visit Vanessa’s house and meets the family one by one. Vanessa’s mother is freaked out by Miles and refuses to shake his hand. She then begins grilling Miles. Vanessa saves Miles from this poorly acted scene, but she can’t save him from the whole poorly acted movie.
The couple goes to a club to hang out with Miles’s baseball crew and meet Jerry Rice in a totally natural way. His friends give Vanessa the impression that Miles isn’t the upstanding I-don’t-go-to-church-now-but-am-looking-for-one-what-a-coincidence citizen.
Vanessa and Miles leave the club to talk privately in a diner. Miles confesses his drug dealing past. I think I missed something as I thought he was currently a drug dealer, but it seems as though he stopped it two years ago. I also think this is Date Number Three, so Miles is really trying to get this plot moving. Vanessa is chill with the whole drug dealing thing as long as they put Jesus in the center of their relationship, so he can share in the profits. Little known fact: Jesus was big into speed.
The couple goes on more dates. On one of these dates, Miles and Vanessa see some sort of carjacking which causes Miles to grab his gun and get involved. This sequence kind of came out of nowhere. Vanessa is not impressed and asks Miles to promise her that he won’t die. Sorry, Vanessa, but Miles isn’t Jesus. They pray over this no good very bad day.
Back at the Vanessa family home, Miles gets a Bible with his name on it.
Vanessa’s mom gives Miles a really aggressive speech about how they prayed for a godly man for Vanessa. Unfortunately, Jesus decided to prank the family and send them Miles.
We move on to another scene. Hey, did you forget about Stephen Baldwin? If you did, he’s back! Watching weird projector images of Miles. Oh whoops, he’s gone again.
After so much discussion about it, Miles finally goes to Vanessa’s church. It’s one of those prosperity churches. Starbucks, pyrotechnics, and skinny jeans.
Apparently, if you didn’t know, church is just singing. No one preaches. They just sing at you.
Miles spends a lot more time with Vanessa and grows in his faith. He even starts reading the Bible! However, after misinterpreting Song of Solomon (he thinks it says he can have premarital sex) and feeling bad that Vanessa made fun of him for it, he goes out clubbing with the baseball crew. They try to solve his problem by throwing women at him. Vanessa storms into the club and sees Miles with a woman. She runs off to the car and wails to God. It starts raining because this is very dramatic.
The film ramps up the drama even further by putting Miles’s mom in the hospital because she is “very ill.” We never find out what the problem is.
Miles’s mom asks Vanessa to take care of him. She even throws in a half-hearted death cough to sell it. Once Vanessa agrees, Mom straight up dies. God sent the couple a fatally ill mother to get Miles and Vanessa back together.
At the funeral, Stephen Baldwin attends in his stakeout van.
Miles takes Vanessa out on a private jet for her birthday. He also asks her to marry him. She says yes. The romantic music swells.
While this is happening, the baseball crew gets arrested by the cops. Looks like Stephen Baldwin finally got his act together. Miles bails them out and they have an emergency meeting to figure out what’s going on. The crew informs Miles that the DEA is after him specifically. The camera spins for two whole minutes around them in a nauseating fashion. I honestly had to look away.
The film adds more useless tragedy by putting Vanessa in a coma after she got hit by a car. Miles isn’t happy with the whole “this is God’s plan” thing and lashes out at Vanessa’s family. He rushes from the hospital, saying he has to talk to someone.
He yells at the Jesus picture in an empty church and asks God to take him instead. Jesus hears his call and has him arrested. Jesus is a snitch. During this climatic scene, we see Michael Madsen again. I guess he needed to collect the second half of his paycheck at some stage. Don’t get too used to him though. He’s gone after this, never to be seen again.
Miles is interrogated by some DEA nerds while Stephen Baldwin watches on TV screen that’s lit by neon tubes. Miles doesn’t give up much info and is released from questioning. And with that we end the DEA storyline and Stephen Baldwin’s vendetta against a black man with money.
Miles heads straight to Vanessa’s bedside to pray. I guess he becomes a Christian in this scene? We then get a coma montage. It’s just as dynamic as you might imagine.
After the montage, Vanessa wakes up to Miles resting on her. I’m not sure him putting his body on her like that is good for a trauma victim. The family is happy, and they go back to church. The pastor uses this coma story as fodder for a sermon. Gotta love it when the congregation gets into medical emergencies.
So remember the opening prison scenes? Turns out Miles isn’t in there, it’s his friends. It was all a fake out. He used their drug money to fund his events business, but it’s all gravy for Miles. He’s never caught for his dirty dealings. The baseball crew is in jail and Miles writes them letters to keep their hopes up OVER THE YEARS. That’s right, they go to jail for many many years. Miles marries Vanessa, impregnates her, gets baptized, and takes seminary courses.
The final capper? Three years later…
This thing wasn’t good. Ja Rule was…ok? I mean he was just playing himself. There was no depth and he looked most comfortable when he was meant to be doing the whole “gangster” bit. Vanessa was acting a little too cool and I suspect that’s because we’re supposed to see that church girls can be cool too! Just like Christian music! The film took too long to build up and then just railroaded the ending with healthy doses of prayer time. I mean there weren’t really any surprises apart from the prison fakeout where Ja gets no real comeuppance, so I don’t know why I’m complaining. I did this to myself.
I grew up in church so I often wonder if some of the turns of phrase would make any sense to someone who hasn’t ever been exposed to it (like “come as you are” or “equally yoked”). I suspect that non-Christians aren’t really the target audience, but it’s something I tend to chew on when seeing these Christian films. It’s annoying as well that the film touches upon tough questions (for instance, Ja tells Vanessa he watched a video of a Muslim preacher talking about Jesus being just a man-prophet, not a deity) and then totally glosses over them. Why even bring it up?!
Should you watch it? Probably not.
- Today, I learned that Ja Rule’s real name is Jeff Atkins.
- “He’s smart, he’s rich, and good-looking” Words spoken by Stephen but written by Ja.
- The film’s filter is just pee yellow.
- Vanessa’s coworkers call Miles “FOINE.”
- Miles goes to a club with his drug dealers. One of them takes him aside to say “dawg” a lot and that’s about it.
- I was under the impression that Stephen Baldwin and Michael Madsen were partners, but a random guy is always with Stephen at the stakeouts. It’s a confusing swap.
- “I’ve never felt like this. It’s like I’m feeling guilt, shame. It’s like I don’t deserve anything all at the same time.” Welcome to Catholicism!
- “We spend one half of our lives waiting on the Lord and the other half waiting on our wives!” Some hacky pastor jokes for you guys.
- I think Michael Madsen had about five minutes total screen time. I kid you not.
- Any Netflix suggestions are welcome!