Desperate, broke, and out of ideas, four college seniors start a fake charity to embezzle money for tuition.
“Believe Me” is labeled a drama and a comedy but the problem is, it’s not very funny. Actually, it’s not funny at all. There is plenty of drama, that much is certain but the film obviously substitutes whatever humor was written in the original script for said drama and the filmmakers must have forgotten to tell everyone else that it had changed. The story centers on Sam (Alex Russell), Pierce (Miles Fisher), Tyler (Sinqua Walls) and Baker (Max Adler), four friends who are all on the verge of graduating college when Sam finds out that his scholarship has expired and in order for him to go on to law school, he must find almost $10,000.
At Pierce’s behest, they go to a church service, where he insists they’ll meet plenty of babes and while there, the church informs their congregation that thanks to their kind donations, they are able to send their missionaries to Hawaii to spread the word of God. Sam immediately has a revelation and between the four friends, they establish a fake religious charity so they can circumvent the money for their tuition. Their mission takes off and very soon, they are touring the country and rolling in the money but when their music manager finds out about their scheme, they unite together to try and do the right thing and avoid going to prison.
Within the first ten minutes, you know exactly where the film is going, right up to the closing shot. Every now and again, a clichéd film like this can sometimes switch gears and veer off in a completely different direction, pleasantly surprising everyone watching it but “Believe Me” isn’t that brave and instead, it paints a by-the-numbers story with no conviction or chutzpah. When Callie (Johanna Braddy), the tour manager, and someone that Sam really likes, finds out about his racket, she gives him the obligatory speech about needing to do the right thing and not just by the people he defrauded, but by God too.
Sam never comes across as genuinely sorry for what he did, rather, he is sorry that he was caught and his friends care only about their cut of the profits and nothing else. They are not likable people in the least and for a while, you think that they’re just immature college kids and not very bright but they’re obviously very aware that the money they’re making is not legitimate and have no qualms spending it on parties and booze. As the film advances, you hope that there will be some sort of redeeming factor that will work its way into the script but sadly, it never materializes and this being Hollywood, by the end of the movie, and this isn’t giving anything away that you can’t see coming but everything gets sorted out and everyone is forgiven and all is good in the world.
The fundamental mistake the movie elicits, is making the lead characters greedy, smug, egotistical college kids because nothing they ever do benefits anybody but themselves so how are we supposed to care about them when the cards fall and it finally looks like they’re going to get their just desserts? The film says we’re expected to forgive and forget and everything will all work out, with no sort of accountability added into the equation. Fortunately, as a Christian, “Believe Me” is a movie I can forgive, along with all of its flaws and weaknesses, unfortunately, it’s a film I can’t forget.
In theaters and on Demand September 26th