I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Trailer Park Jesus: The Archetype Laptop Indie FIlm

by Timothy Misir
April 21, 2014

Sean Gerowin’ second feature after 2009’s Let’s Rob the Cheese Shop is an adventure comedy similar to stoner flicks Pineapple Express and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, except that the drug of choice is acid, or according to one of the residents of the trailer park in the film, “like that motorcycle movie.”

Despite its title, Trailer Park Jesus is not a Jesus film, neither is it a spoof of Jesus films. Trailer Park Jesus is not concerned with his ethnic identity nor his inner conflicts and temptation, as is the case with most cinematic depictions of Christ.1 It is about tipping with rednecks and seeing God. In the film, Jesus is a spiritual guide, whose depiction is akin to Kevin Smith’s Buddy Jesus from Dogma (1999) come to life, and even has the ability to turn water into wine cooler. The biblical Jesus’ performed seven miracles, and turning water into wine is the most significant, being the first public miracle listed in the Gospel of John and confirming his divine nature.

Jessie, or “Missouro,” purchases a sheet of acid to get over a breakup and on a road trip and ends up in a trailer park while taking a detour on his way back home. With his car broken down, he has to pass eight hours in a small trailer park town in rural Mississippi, where he is picked up by some hicks, while waiting for a bus. To negotiate his way out of trouble, he offers them some tabs. Soon, everyone wants to ‘see the light.’

The allegory of acid trip as religious experience might be a bit too overused, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Rather uneventfully, Jessie makes it through the day and manages to catch his bus out of town, but both Jessie and the trailer park’s residents learn more about themselves over the course of a day filled with adventures anyone who’s tripped out before can certainly relate to, unlike stoner adventure comedies, which often turn into fantasy.

“20 years ago, after purchasing a sheet of LSD, I broke down at a trailer park in rural Mississippi. This is the movie we made, based on that crazy experience,” said Gerowin, on the origins of the film. Though the love interest of Jessie was fictional, a lot of what happened was based on Gerowin’s experience, right down to the trailer park’s residents and the film main characters, Luke, Paul and Mary.2"

A low-budget indie, “Trailer Park Jesus” was shot on Canon 5D and 7D DSLR cameras for about $20,000 in a trailer park in Louisiana. For some reason, this feels like a movie made just for YouTube, without a known director or cast.3 Perfect for watching on a laptop, It does not meander or surprise, and does not require complete engagement in its viewing. Low budget indie films tend to look bad on the big screen,4 and a wide release in this manner might also put it up to bigger expectations than it should have to bear. There are no expectations for “Trailer Park Jesus” and as such is harder to be disappointed by it.

Like fellow low-budget slacker comedies Clerks (1994) and Peluca (2002) (which was turned into the feature Napoleon Dynamite), the film’s strength lies in its easily-relatable cast of misfits. And while its lack of catch phrases might explain it not becoming a cult comedy film like the former two, it has to be one of the best movies depicting an acid trip since 1968’s Easy Rider and an example of how budget features can shine on YouTube.

1 https://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/JesusinFilmRein.htm

2 http://www.reddit.com/r/Drugs/comments/1iysmn/20_years_ago_after_purchasing_a_sheet_of_lsd_i/

3 http://wemakemovies.org/resources-2/post-production/screening-formats-2/

4 http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueFilm/comments/22w1tq/the_limits_of_low_budget_films_why_they_look_low/

Timothy Misir is a Russia-based Singaporean writer and researcher in urban planning and architecture. He is currently working at The Moscow Times where he is a copy editor and writes for the arts section. He can be contacted at tim.misir@gmail.com.