Not Today

You’d be surprised how hard it really is to sit through a movie about human trafficking produced by the Orange County megachurch whose charter members include Richard Nixon’s parents. It’s not even funny. The makers of Not Today have decided that the best way to combat caste-abetted slavery in India is to throw together a sanitized, dramatically vacuous morality play about a spoiled young white guy from California who travels to the subcontinent for fun, has his conscience pricked, and, with phone counsel from a stateside John Schneider to pray about it, finally decides, “The very least I can do is get involved.” The essence of writer-director Jon Van Dyke’s trudging contrivance is this: Having notified his chaste and chastising girlfriend (Cassie Scerbo) that church numbs his brain, cocky young Caden (Cody Longo) bolts from McMansionland to Hyderabad, hoping for a party. Instead he winds up scrambling to retrieve the sold-off young daughter of a desperate beggar (Walid Amini) he once rebuffed. When Caden finally calls his stepdad (Schneider) to ask for money, it’s to buy the girl back. Presumably all that praying is what prompts the deus ex machina by which she actually gets rescued, and Schneider is right that God will also find a way to not hurt other kids: by allowing this message movie to get made! Its epilogue, a PSA with cast and crew appealing directly for our support, is just sincere enough to obviate all that came before, if not make up for it.