NASHVILLE — As streaming services increasingly push inappropriate content for children, the Skit Guys are on a mission to create family-friendly, clean content that honors — and pokes fun at — the Body of Christ.
The Skit Guys, comedy duo Tommy Woodard and Eddie James, recently released their new film, “Family Camp,” which tells the story of Grace Ackerman ("Good Luck Charlie" actress Leigh-Allyn Baker), who brings her husband, Tommy (Woodard), and their children to Camp Katokwah at her pastor’s suggestion.
There, the Ackermans are tasked with getting along with their yurt neighbors, the Sanders, led by the Bible-thumping Eddie Sanders. The families have little in common, and hilarity ensues as a result.
At the red carpet premiere of “Family Camp,” Woodard and James reflected on how the film fills a relatively non-existent genre: Family comedy.
“There are no family comedies,” James told The Christian Post. “There are action movies, there are superhero films, there are comedy movies, there are live-action movies, but there aren’t any family comedies. So even if this movie didn’t have a faith aspect, we think it’s truly a family comedy that will appeal to an underserved audience. So for Christians to step out and support this, it says to the community, ‘Hey, we want more of this.’”
Though “Family Camp” is a comedy at its core, it explores relational challenges between family members to highlight the themes of hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Tommy’s a workaholic who can’t connect with his children; Eddie and his wife, Victoria, struggle due to the former’s domineering tendencies — issues they are all forced to resolve.
“We wanted this movie to be infused with hope,” Woodard said. “We need that hope after what we’ve been through, and then to have moms, dads and kids watch this movie together and talk about that hope in the car. This movie gives us a chance to exhale, to breathe a little bit after a tough year.”
The Skit Guys have been in the entertainment industry for over 30 years, traveling the world, performing and making short films and scripts for churches. Driven by “heart, humor and hymn,” the duo uses their talents to teach God's Word using comedy and drama.
Humor, they stressed, should be an essential part of a Christian’s life, as it “breaks down barriers and allows the truth to enter.”
“If you can get people to laugh, you can get people to listen, and then you have to have something good to say,” Woodard said. “We like to say we’re pastors more than pranksters, so at the end of the day, we get the local church, not just the big megachurch, but the local church, where they’re going there, day in and day out, and just trying to touch souls. We, for the past 30 years, have always been about them.”
Presenting comedy from a place of loving the church, he added, is what allows their message to resonate within the Body of Christ.
“We’ve always tried to figure out that line, where Christians can laugh at themselves and pop culture and still go, ‘Those guys are for us; those guys aren’t against us. They’re not making fun of us, so we can laugh at ourselves,’” he added. “I really believe laughter can break down walls so God can enter in.”
For every video or project they tackle, he added, they’re always thinking about how to respect both the 80-year-old churchgoer to the millennial wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
“We try to really think of everybody,” he said.
The film, from Roadside Attractions, K-LOVE Films and Provident Films, is rated PG and debuted in cinemas nationwide on May 13. The film will come to DVD, Digital and Video On Demand on June 28th.
Baker, best known for her roles in "Charmed," "Will & Grace” and "Good Luck Charlie," stressed the importance of Christians supporting faith-based and family-friendly films at a time when Hollywood is releasing increasingly negative content.
“The reason that movie theaters are filled with smut and trash and things we’re embarrassed to see is because people are paying to go see those things,” she told CP. “As capitalism works, that is what drives content. I know there are a lot of Christian families who are saying, ‘I can’t wait to see this when it comes out on digital,’ but I’m telling you right now, you need to get out to the theaters to see this if you want more faith-based films.”
“When the world goes through turmoil, people need hope and laughter,” she said. “We need to laugh, and we need hope for our future and our families, and that’s exactly what this film brings.”
Baker previously told CP that she was drawn to the film because of how it treated Christianity respectfully without proselytizing.
“There's a lot of rumors about Christianity and Jesus … that just aren't true,” she said. “I just think that it's really important to invite people to the table. The great thing about this is that this movie isn't convincing someone to be a Christian. It's not pushing a religion on someone; it's not beating them over the head with it. At the end of the day, this is a really good, funny movie that everybody will enjoy, no matter what your faith.”
“Family Camp” is now playing in theaters nationwide.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org