The 2018 film, Power of the Air, tells the story of David Williams (Nicholas X. Parsons). David thinks that he can be a committed Christian despite the fact that he spends every weekend at the movies. In fact, he and his friends have a streak going. For over 40 weekends, they have gone to the movies and David has never once worried about all of the violence, nudity, and adult language that he sees.
Some might say that this is because David is an adult who has found a way to relax after work. However, a Nigerian missionary named Emeka Odum (played — quite well, it must be said — by Veryl Jones) says that it’s because David is using the movie theater as a substitute for church. As Odum explains it, the movie theater has become America’s new house of worship and, as a result, America is now a second-rate nation that has lost its way. Why, in three years, America might even have a president who obviously doesn’t know where he is half the time. And it’s all Hollywood’s fault! Well, actually, the movie suggests that it’s really your fault for going to the movies.
If that sounds like an old-fashioned message, that’s because Power of the Air is a very old-fashioned movie. That is perhaps not surprising, as this is a Dave Christiano production, but it still feels strange to hear David — the character and not the director, though one gets the feeling that it’s not a coincidence that they share the same name — announce that he can no longer watch any movies that feature people cursing. I mean, avoiding a movie because of violence makes sense to me. Avoiding a movie because of nudity or political messaging is also understandable. Everyone has different things that they’re looking for. But avoiding a movie because of cursing is basically just another way of announcing that you’re never going to watch another movie. I mean, I’ve known plenty of Christians who do curse. At the same time, I do have to admit that I hardly ever curse but that’s just because I don’t want to sound like everyone else. I gave up cursing for Lent and my sisters all accused me of cheating because, according to them, it’s not really a sacrifice if you give up something that you don’t actually do.
Anyway, David wants to use mass media to spread a good Christian message so he comes up with the idea of broadcasting a commercial on all fifteen of his city’s radio stations at the exact same time. As he sees it, this will mean that everyone will hear the commercial whether they try to change the station or not. (Or, you know, they might just turn off their radio. Or they might turn down the volume. Or they might resent having David’s message forced upon them and respond by going to a Marvel film.) Unfortunately, Charlie (Patty Duke), the manager of the biggest station in town, doesn’t want to run a religious commercial. Can David change her mind?
Of course, I think the real problem with David’s plan is that the days of people spending all day listening to the local radio stations are pretty much over. That’s true today and it was true when this film was made in 2018. There are now so many options out there and so many other ways to keep oneself entertained during the day that the idea of everyone in the city listening to local AM radio seems a bit naïve. David really should have started a podcast or something.
Anyway, Power of the Air is a fairly slow-moving film and it’s one of those films that will mostly appeal to people who already agree with its message. The film is probably most interesting as Dave Christiano’s feature-length justification for making the type of movies that he does. The main message seems to be that if only more people watched Christiano’s films, then David wouldn’t have had to spend all that money on those radio ads.