Mother, father and son are sitting at the dinner table discussing the boy’s upcoming 12th birthday. Apparently Mom and Dad (played by Rachel Lynn Jackson and Timothy J. Cox) had a previous agreement that when their child turned twelve, he or she would get to choose which religion to practice. You see, Mom is Jewish and Dad is Catholic and, well…you probably get why this might be a problem.
Mom starts the conversation by hinting that the boy only has a year to go until his thirteenth birthday, just enough time to plan the bar mitzvah. Dad takes exception to this thinly-veiled ploy and insists that there is still plenty of time. An intense discussion between parents ensues as the child looks on, picking at his food. As the stakes increase both parents turn from gentle hinting to overt mocking of the other’s religion. Dad reminds the little boy that by thirteen he’ll have to have his "hoo-hah snipped" if he converts to Judaism while Mom snaps that having his hoo-hah snipped would be preferable to having it fondled by the local priests. The stakes continue to rise as the boy looks incredulously at one parent, then the other, until he stops them both cold with an announcement for which neither parent was prepared.
This 5-minute short is a hilarious look both at religion and at the extremes parents will go to in using their children as pawns in order to get their way. Starting as a gentle conversation, the one-liners and comedic cracks quickly begin to be hurled at a rapid pace as both parents become desperate to win the religious tug-of-war. An example of this is when the father attacks Moses as being pathetic for only squeezing a bit of water out of a rock. Mom’s retort: "Mikey, remember when Grandma was sick and Jesus came down to heal her? Oh, wait, he didn’t…and Grandma died." Ouch! While the film is a very funny comedy, it is also slightly sad to see the boy caught not just between religions but also being forced to make a decision that is guaranteed to please one parent and disappoint the other. This is a tough choice that no child should be forced to make.
Both Jackson and Cox are superb in their roles as Mikey’s parents. What begins as polite dinner-time conversation quickly snowballs into all-out religious warfare, with Jackson and Cox portraying increasing desperation. For his part, Max Abe Plush as Mikey does a terrific job as well with very few lines. Throughout most of the running time Plush uses facial reactions, but when the time comes to speak, he delivers a well-deserved bomb to his selfish parents.
Written by Yael Green and directed by Lee Loechler, Choosing Sides is a delightfully entertaining little film with a terrific payoff at the end. The film has just been released to Vimeo and can be seen at https://vimeo.com/71371777.