‘Small Group’ Squeezes Too Many Genres Into Its Faith-Based Package

“Small Group” is a film with great promise, a bigger than normal budget for a faith-based production and talented lead performers, most notable Emily Dunlop as Mary Cooper.

Though the look is sometimes flat, the appearance is sufficient to get the aesthetic across in a cogent way that makes the film watchable to the end.

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“Small Group” follows documentary filmmaker R. Scott Cooper (Sterling Hurst) as he moves his family to Georgia after being hired to make a film about the dwindling influence of Christianity in America. Scott intends to make an honest film, but his producer Ballard (Robert Riechel, Jr.) has other plans.

Ballard wants to “pull back the curtain” on Christian life, so Scott and his wife, Mary, infiltrate a “small group” at a local church hoping to expose its hypocrisy.

What starts out as a sweet family drama quickly turns into a slapstick romp using all the stereotypes of Christians seated around a living room talking about God. And just when you’ve bought into the silliness, writer/director Matt Chastain wants you to engage in one of Christianity’s most sacred stands, the topic of life in the womb.

“Small Group” soon takes another turn and becomes a buddy road-trip picture. Filmmaker Cooper and the men from his small group embark on a missionary trip to Guatemala to serve the poor. It’s on this trip Cooper hopes to expose the hypocrisy of people of faith, but events don’t proceed exactly as planned.

If you’re a Christian in a small group this film will either light you up with laughter, or send you into a head-scratching wonder.

“Who are these people in a group with no theological background?”

The film is lighthearted overall but suffers from being too long and stuffing too many genres into a faith-based feature.

The real story is the smaller one, of a family struggling to reconcile the faith they were given as children, to the faith they need as adults to get through life.

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