The Eyes of Tammy Faye Parent Guide
There's more to think about in this movie than Tammy Faye's make up routine.
Parent Movie Review
Who was Tammy Faye Bakker? Was she a sincere, naïve woman, singing her heart out for Jesus and her husband’s television audience? Or was she a calculating hypocrite who helped her spouse fleece unwitting believers to fund a lavish lifestyle?
The Eyes of Tammy Faye hews to the first view. In this spin on the real-life tale, Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) is a genuinely religious woman, drawn to young James Bakker (Andrew Garfield) by his optimistic faith. The two go on the road as traveling preachers: Tammy Faye using puppets to appeal to children and Jim preaching to their parents. A television program launches them onto the national stage, and in 1974, Jim founds the PTL (Praise the Lord) satellite network. With a rapidly growing international audience, Jim feels secure enough to initiate his other plans – most grandiosely a Christian-themed amusement park. But Jim’s plans take money, Tammy Faye spends money, and an allegation of rape triggers a payoff and police investigations. The fall of Jim and Tammy Faye becomes the stuff of 1980s pop culture and fodder for late night comics.
In addition to providing a sympathetic biopic of the heavily made up celebrity, The Eyes of Tammy Faye examines some broader questions. It shows Tammy Faye’s bewilderment at the loss of immediacy in her relationship with God. The movie doesn’t judge or assign blame, but it clearly depicts her grief at that spiritual emptiness – leaving it to viewers to speculate as to its cause. It also illustrates the flaws in Jim Bakker’s version of the prosperity gospel. Bakker starts out earnestly preaching a gospel of hope and optimism: people don’t have to settle for poverty as a sign of God’s will. But his message is easily corrupted, and he soon begins to equate God’s love with money. “Love” and “blessings” are represented by cash and (very tacky) conspicuous consumption. The storyline also takes a jaundiced look at Bakker’s fellow televangelists, showing Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Onofrio) as a controlling, homophobic empire builder and Pat Robertson (Gabriel Olds) as a ruthless self-seeker prepared to take credit for other men’s work. The interactions between Bakker and his two colleagues also offer a glimpse at the very un-Christian emotions swirling beneath the public collegiality. There’s a lot more to think about in this movie than Tammy Faye’s make up routine or the flaws in the Bakker’s marriage.
The movie’s multiple facets come with some content issues, none of which are graphic. There are two scenes of fully clothed sexual behavior – one pre-marital and one adulterous – and brief mentions of rape, adultery, and homosexuality. There is also a short television segment involving the demonstration of an aid to assist with erectile dysfunction. Drugs enter the picture when Tammy Faye becomes addicted to anti-anxiety medications and she is frequently seen taking Ativan.
Whether or not you are going to enjoy this film depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a shocking exposé, this movie doesn’t provide a lot of new, titillating information. What The Eyes of Tammy Faye provides is a window into the life of a complex and often confusing woman. It’s a cautionary tale of how a woman’s determination to serve God was eventually derailed by the platform she chose to use. It’s not simple; but real life seldom is.Directed by Michael Showalter. Starring Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D'Onofrio. Running time: 126 minutes. Theatrical release September 17, 2021. Updated September 18, 2021
Watch the trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Eyes of Tammy Faye rated PG-13? The Eyes of Tammy Faye is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sexual content and drug abuse
Violence: There are scenes of adults shouting at each other. A child is threatened with hell.
Sexual Content: An unmarried couple is shown, fully clothed, kissing passionately in bed. The man grabs the woman’s breast and she puts her hand on his groin. A fully clothed married woman straddles a man and sex is implied. There are brief conversations about homosexuality, extramarital affairs, and sexual desire. A TV segment demonstrates a pump designed to treat erectile dysfunction. A woman interviews a gay man and they discuss homosexuality.
Profanity: There are a handful of minor profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character becomes addicted to prescription anti-anxiety medication.
Page last updated September 18, 2021
The Eyes of Tammy Faye Parents' GuideHow do you think the Bakkers wound up enmeshed in scandal? How did Jim’s religious fervor get sidetracked into fraud and payoffs? What was the first step on the “slippery slope” away from his heartfelt ministry? Do you think Tammy Faye bears some of the responsibility for the corruption and collapse of PTL? What do you think Tammy Faye could have done differently?
Related home video titles:
Christian music and summer camp help bring a wayward teen back from the brink in A Week Away. A Christian musician faces a wrenching trial when his girlfriend is diagnosed with terminal cancer in I Still Believe. In Respect, Aretha Franklin is saved from her inner demons by the religious music that she loved.