Actors: Mikayla Irle, JP O'Connor, Rachel Holley, Christopher Teeny, Rich Nelson
Director: Nicole Teeny
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Virgil Films and Entertainment
DVD Release Date: June 10, 2014
Run Time: 76 minutes
Documentaries are the most forgiving independent films in terms of critical praise. There is less of a need for production values in the medium, and even home movies can be turned into compelling entertainment if the subject is intriguing enough. Films can be made without much of a crew or even a concept of what the film will be or what it has to say, and a lot of the time keeping the camera running is all that is needed for the personal drama to unfold naturally. Bible Quiz is made by Nicole Teeny, and it is no surprise to find that one of teens at the center of the storyline is a Christopher Teeny.
Bible Quiz is a perfect example of the directionless ease with which documentaries are made, never feeling technically competent with a filmmaker that has no clear intent or point for the making of the film. It is only through the unrequited love of a central character that eventually takes center stage in the film’s narrative. If it weren’t for the awkward seventeen-year-old Mikayla at the center of Teeny’s film, this would be a rather pointless and dull documentary about a very small Bible quiz competition.
The film doesn’t even look at the larger aspects of the Bible Quiz Championship, which is a larger error in the amateur filmmaking. Although this is a national competition with a diverse group of teams from churches around the country, there is practically no time spent looking at any church other than the two entirely white churches of the Northwest. Despite the title, this is not a movie about the Bible Quiz; it is a film about the specific meaning that the Championship to a single girl with a crush.
The reason that Mikayla is in the competition memorizing entire books of the Bible is predominantly for her urge to spend time around one of the top bachelors in the Bible Quiz world. Apparently the teen girls at this church have a list. JP is clearly uninterested, because all of these teens have an unhealthy fear and avoidance with their own hormones and urges. One sequence has an 18-year-old girl giving a creepy number of names to proudly label her complete avoidance of contact with the opposite sex. Among them are “lip-ginity,” “hand-ginity,” and “feet-ginity.” One girl remarks that she lost her “hand-ginity,” but that it was holding hands during prayer, so she didn’t think it counted. In a country which offers up Miley Cyrus as a role model to our young teens, this is a complete opposite extreme.
JP appears uninterested in any romantic relationship with Mikayla or any other girl from the very beginning. For him, any romantic relationship is described as more of an inevitable obligation rather than an urge or temptation he will eventually give in to for the right girl. Affection with the opposite sex is non-existent, though he is suspiciously quick to hug and embrace his male friends, particularly Christopher Teeny. This is a film about the embarrassment of feelings that these teens are never allowed to feel normal for having. Mikayla is clearly crushing hard on JP, but still will not allow any desire for physical contact. Even a hug between them feels like a sin in this environment.
It would have been easy to take these extreme viewpoints and highlight them as the point of Teeny’s film, but her obvious connection to the characters leaves us with little point or message in the actual portrayal of the Bible Quiz. The movie instead shifts all focus to Mikayla, and the second half of the film is much more about her crush than any competition.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 2/10