My Scientology Movie Movie Review
I have a strange obsession with wacky religions, most notably with fundamentalist Mormonism and Scientology. I first became fixated after reading Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, and have since read and watched countless books and documentaries. So, with My Scientology Movie hitting Digital HD this week, I had to see it.
Sadly, the doc didn’t do much for me at all, to the point where I considered turning it off.
It’s not that John Dower’s production isn’t entertaining—it is—but for someone who wants depth and journalistic exploration in their documentaries, My Scientology Movie comes up way short.
Dower’s approach to examine Scientology is a gimmick. Given that his requests to connect with Scientology leaders to make a film were denied—unsurprisingly—his co-writer and host Louis Theroux teams up with a former Scientology official to recreate specific incidents that occurred within the church using actors. This includes using actors to play mysterious and presumably psychotic church leader David Miscavige and Scientology star-child Tom Cruise.
John Dower’s documentary is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but when you look at a few of the reviews, they tend to praise its entertainment value more than anything else. Entertainment value is important—arguably the most important thing when it comes to films—but it isn’t everything, especially when it comes to documentaries. My Scientology Movie is a shallow affair, and its bits to recreate scenes with actors more tedious than fun.
While Dower and Theroux do extract a response from the church as they more or less expected, the documentary doesn’t reveal much more than what you’d already know from a cursory understanding of the mysterious religion. All in all, My Scientology Movie is not essential viewing material, and for that reason, it isn’t my Scientology movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.