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Sundance 2011. Todd Rohal's "The Catechism Cataclysm"

"Todd Rohal's gleefully dopey comedy The Catechism Cataclysm opens with a bumbling priest (played by Steve Little) telling his congregation a funny story that has no real point and no scriptural application. The rest of the movie follows suit." The AV Club's Noel Murray gives it a B+: "Unlike Rohal's quirk-in-exremis debut film The Guatemalan Handshake, The Catechism Cataclysm is more naturalistic in its first hour, in the vein of Eastbound & Down and Pineapple Express (whose writer-producer-directors Jody Hill and David Gordon Green produced Cataclysm). Even when the movie takes a turn for the surreal, it remains rooted in the reactions of the slack-faced good guy Little and the gruff-but-lovable [Robert] Longstreet. I can't promise that everyone will find their company as enjoyable as I did, but those who do should get behind Rohal's riffs on classic fiction and his stories-within-stories-with-no-clear-escape premise."

"Eastbound & Down fans will recognize an awful lot of Little's ingratiatingly dopey Kenny Powers acolyte in his character here, a man-child of a priest who never seems to have evolved emotionally beyond middle school and whose inane natterings and obsession with YouTube and rock 'n' roll are at best grudgingly tolerated by his superiors," writes Nathan Rabin, also at the AV Club (he gives the film a B). "The Catechism Cataclysm is an inspired lark, an unclassifiable 75-minute oddity that wanders far off the beaten path into trippy realms, but retains a squirmy sense of humanity thanks to Little and Longstreet's fine, very lived-in performances."

"This is down home Americana re-imagined as gradually escalating dementia with a dark yet still sweetly naive edge," writes Todd Brown at Twitch. "Not the biggest film at Sundance by a long shot, nor the flashiest or most extreme, The Catechism Cataclysm is possessed of a gentle charm masking an urge to in your face subversiveness, a combination that is going to make the cult for this film a fervently loyal one."

More from the Hollywood Reporter's James Greenberg ("Rohal deserves credit for having a quirky vision and sticking to it, even if it makes no sense and isn't particularly funny") and indieWIRE's Eric Kohn ("wildly entertaining, invariably random and delectably strange").

For Filmmaker, Nick Dawson talks with Rohal about Cataclysm, which "was born out of the creative frustration he felt after waiting so long to get back behind the camera."

Viewing (32'47"). David Poland talks with Little and Longstreet. More viewing (3'37"). A review recorded at the airport on the way back out of Park City by The Film Stage. The Catechism Cataclysm screened in the Park City at Midnight program.

Update, 2/5: "To call Rohal's structure for this no-budget comedy loose is like calling George W Bush inarticulate," writes David D'Arcy in Screen. "Watching the lazy surreal odyssey unfold, you might be tempted to see The Catechism Cataclysm as a metaphor about telling a story, or about the futility of telling a story. To be fair, Steve Little can talk up a storm.  And like a man with a gun who won't stop shooting, he hits the mark some of the time."

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