In God We Trust
Today I once again watched a short film from a director famous for his feature film work. However, unlike Wes Anderson, I actually enjoy what I’ve seen before from Jason Reitman. In God We Trust is a short written and directed by Reitman five years before his feature film debut, Thank You for Smoking would be released.
The film begins with the lead character, Robert (Richard Speight Jr.), standing in the middle of the street, examining a quarter he’s just picked up. Unfortunately for Robert, at that moment a truck is speeding along the same street and hits him full on. The next thing Robert knows he’s stepping off an elevator in Purgatory. He’s assigned to sit down with an agent, Gil (Jeff Witzke), who reviews a file with the sum of good and bad deeds that Robert has done in his life. Gil reveals, with perfunctory dispassion, that while Robert never did any “big” bad deeds, he did a whole lot of little ones, resulting in a lifetime score that’s just barely negative, therefore Robert has been damned to Hell for all eternity.
Taking advantage of a brief distraction, Robert escapes back to earth, and our plot is afoot. Robert has only a short time to make peace with his loved ones, and hopefully earn enough “good” points to avoid damnation. All the while, the forces of fate are literally conspiring to strike Robert down again, because the dead are NOT supposed to come back to life.
Normally having the afterlife after you would mean a quick demise for any mortal. Luckily for Robert, the afterlife foreman (Jim O’Heir) decides to give the task to a woefully inept junior staff member, giving Robert a chance to make something of his last day on Earth.
I really enjoyed this film. It was funny, creative, and even inspiring. Yesterday’s movie set out to be inspiring, but did it in such a ham-handed and obvious way that it really didn’t work. On the other hand, In God We Trust aims to be a comedy, succeeds in that, but manages to send a life-affirming message about paying attention to the little things, and making the most out of life, along the way. It’s really well worth seeing.