This 1992 film tells the story of Dan Burgess (played by David A. R. White, who, years later, would be the center of the God’s Not Dead franchise). Dan is a high school student who fears that, because he spends all of his time going to church, he’s missing out on all the fun that he should be having. Dan’s probably right.
The other kids are going to a big party. Not Dan!
The other kids get to stay out as late as they want. Not Dan!
The other kids don’t have to deal with two parents and a bratty sister. Not Dan!
The other kids don’t have to keep their grades up. Not Dan!
Dan can’t even get a girlfriend, because he’s just such a nice guy! Of course, the girl from his youth group likes him but Dan wants to date Tamara (Denise Weatherly) and she only goes out with the type of guys who enjoy bullying Dan for being such a do-gooder.
One night, Dan prays that he wishes he had never become “a believer,” which would seem to defeat the purpose of not believing but anyway…. The next morning, Dan wakes up to discover that his bedroom is full of empty beer cans, the neighbors refuse to talk to him, and he now wears a backwards baseball cap. As well, all of the high school bullies are now his best friends and he’s dating Tamara! Plus, he’s been invited to Randy’s party! Who is Randy? Who cares? It’s a party.
There’s also a weird guy named Muriel (Blaine Pickett) hanging out in Dan’s backyard. Muriel explains that he is Dan’s guardian angel. Everyone in Heaven was really upset by Dan’s prayer so they sent Muriel down to do a little bit of that It’s A Wonderful Life magic and show Dan what the world would be like if he wasn’t a believer. Muriel also explains that only Dan can see and hear him. That doesn’t stop Dan from arguing with Muriel and it also doesn’t stop people from seeing Dan apparently talking to himself. But no one cares because Dan is now one of the popular kids.
In fact, Dan has everything that he ever wanted except …. well, his father seems to be missing. And so is his little sister. In fact, it turns out that he doesn’t even have a little sister because his parents got divorced when Dan was younger. When Dan quite rightfully wonders how it could be his fault that his parents got a divorce, Muriel explains that it’s because non-believer Dan wasn’t praying for them when they were having trouble. Ouch! That’s harsh! That’s also actually pretty messed up and a huge burden to put on the shoulders of those of us who grew up as children of divorce. I know that when my parents got divorced, I kind of blamed myself and the message of this film is that apparently it was my fault. Seriously, that’s a terrible message. If you’re reading this and if your parents are divorced or are in the process of getting divorced, it’s not your fault!
Anyway, Dan learns an important lesson about faith and being impulsive in his prayers. Soon, Dan is back to greeting his best friend by saying, “Hey, Scotty! Jesus, man!” Apparently, enough 90s kids were traumatized by this film that Dan’s greeting has become a minor meme. That’s the power of film!