Bigger, more ambitious, and equally provocative, this is a worthwhile follow-up to a smart, necessary idea.
The First Temptation of Christ (Netflix) debuted on December 3, 2019.
Since mockery of religion is such an essential thing, a film like Rodrigo Van Der Put’s The First Temptation of Christ, which mocks enthusiastically and without mercy, is worthy of respect. A follow-up to The Last Hangover, a satirical reimagining of the Last Supper, this new 45-minute skewering is wilder, more erratic, and less concise in its degradation of the almighty. Still, it has enough acidic wit to be worth the modest investment.
The setup is that Jesus (Gregório Duvivier) attends his 30th birthday surprise party with his boyfriend Orlando (Fábio Porchat). The party, thrown by José (Rafael Portugal) and Maria (Evelyn Castro), has a number of high-profile biblical guests, including God (Antonio Tabet), which prompts plenty of debate about parental rights and responsibilities as Christ grapples not just with his parentage but with his own spiritual journey.
The First Temptation of Christ is full of hits and misses, but it’s mostly funny and well-written enough to not get bogged down by the moments which work either less well or not at all. The film’s setup provides plenty of ripe and provocative comedic material which will be relished by those who enjoyed The Last Hangover and predictably reviled by those who didn’t. Its predecessor was a better overall piece of work, but The First Temptation of Christ can match its highs, if not the frequency with which they’re achieved. That Netflix is willing to publish short international films this daring is a positive thing too, especially at this time of year, and from a country boasting the largest number of Catholic Christians in the world.