Underground Film Journal

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Feature Film Online: The Proper Care & Feeding Of An American Messiah

By Mike Everleth ⋅ May 23, 2010

Filmmaker Chris Hansen‘s first feature film, the comedy The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah is finally available to watch in full online. That’s it embedded above. It’s the tender tale of a crusty Messiah looking to earn a little respect. No, he’s not “the” Messiah. He’s just a good, dependable regional Messiah — and that doesn’t make him any less special. UPDATE: Movie seems to have been pulled from Hulu, but other streaming options can be found here.

I originally reviewed the film way back in 2006, back when the Underground Film Journal was just finding its sea legs. I thought it was a funny film then and it’s really kind of stuck with me ever since. A lot of that is due to the great premise of the film devised by Hansen and the many terrific set-ups and jokes that he develops out of his concept. While Hansen is clearly satirizing televangelist charlatans and their ilk, the film is more of a mild comedy than a scathing satire. Still, some of the bits he comes up with are inspired.

Movie poster featuring Andy Warhol style drawings of Jesus and another messiah

However, much of the credit for the film’s success must also go to actor Dustin Olson who plays the titular Messiah, Brian, with a unique combination of revulsion and sympathy. Brian is a completely unlikeable character, yet at the same time he’s thoroughly compelling to watch on-screen and, in an odd way, becomes someone to root for. It’s a tough trick to pull off, but Olson does so brilliantly.

Hansen has also recently completed his second feature, the dramatic film Endings, which was recently reviewed on the Underground Film Journal and will soon be making the film festival rounds. It’s a very different style than this one, but one hopefully I can embed on the site in the future at some point.

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