THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE runs 1:34. The film is not yet rated but would probably be PG-13 for language and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up. The film, which will be released later this year, was shown as the closing night film of San Jose’s Cinequest Film Festival (www.Cinequest.org), which ran February 25-March 8, 2009.
Review: Rotten Tomatoes
A film review by Steve Rhodes RATING (0 TO ****): ***
Going in to see movies, it’s impossible not to carry some expectations and built-in prejudices. Ever since I saw director Roger Nygard’s TREKKIES back in 1997, I’ve been hooked. I really enjoy his movies and his fine comedic sense of story and pacing, In addition to Nygard’s hilarious documentary on Star Trek’s obsessive fans (TREKKIES), Nygard has done narrative films too, with his humorous take on used car salesmen (SUCKERS) being another favorite of mine. But, I’ve got to be honest, when I went to see the premier of THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE, I expected more than I got. He starts off the film by saying that, after the horrors of 9/11, he wanted to understand more about the meaning of life, so I expected a more serious treatment of the matter. While I expected to be enlightened, I was only entertained. Don’t get me wrong. I was thoroughly entertained, but the movie proved to be good for lots of laughs but nothing more. It is, however, filled with one funny line after another, as Nygard finds a bunch of frequently bizarre characters to ask some very serious and fundamental questions about the nature of existence. The film has a chapter-like structure as Nygard, who places himself prominently in his own picture, asks various people a series of questions about life and what it all means. He starts off with “Why do we exist?” Some people answer seriously, but more typical is the person who says the answer is “sex (pause) and chocolate.” The questions and answers are edited fast and furiously for maximum comedic effect. Nygard says that his religious background consisted of his time as a kid in the Episcopal Church. Describing that religion as Catholic Lite, he says that all he remembers of church was his Sunday routine as he mentally counted down his “time to pancakes” during the service. Although some people he interviews believe in God, many don’t. And some believe in God, but not organized religion. As one person puts it, “I don’t doubt God. I just doubt his representatives.” Among the many wacky people Nygard finds to interview, it would be hard to top the group called the “Ultimate Christian Wrestlers.” Every week they climb into the ring to wrestle each other in the name of the Lord. Perhaps the most insightful answer given is that “People should be concerned about the meaning of their life, not the meaning of life.” I didn’t learn anything, but I sure had a good time laughing at the subject, which made it all worthwhile for me.