“From the minds who brought you Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre…”
That should tell you enough as you watch a film about what happens when an archaeologist runs out of real Biblical artifacts to hunt for and starts making them up. Sam Rockwell stars as the digger-turned-gravedigger Don Verdean, while Flight of the Concords’ Jemaine Clement serves as his Israeli partner-in-crime Boaz. With a host of quirky characters, Don Verdean tries to shine a light on the way that we allow ourselves to be misguided and misused by false beliefs.
Verdean feels pressure when Danny McBride’s (Eastbound and Down) Tony Lazarus wants to pay big bucks for Verdean to find impossible artifacts; when Verdean and Boaz turn to the offered finances of Asian billionaire Poon-Yen (Steve Park), it takes their faith and works in a way they never intended to go when they started, highlighting the slippery slope of “pay for pray.” But Verdean’s secretary, Carol (Amy Ryan), provides some balance in this world of quirkiness – she believes Verdean is better than he really is.
Don Verdean isn’t great, but it does highlight a problem in the way that church and archaeology work together. How do we link ourselves to believing in certain pieces of dirt and clay to prove (or disprove) something about our faith? I’ll always remember being asked in seminary what it would do to my faith if they discovered the bones of Jesus. I ultimately decided my answer was “nothing,” for several reasons, but not everyone can answer the question in the same way.
The truth is that Don Verdean raises several questions without providing any answers, but that’s not its intent. It will still make you consider the possibilities. You just have to decide if this is closer to Saved or The Apostle…