Crime of the Age is a 32-minute-long Christian mystery drama from 1988 by Dave and Rich Christiano, and one of their earliest attempts at filmmaking.
In the dark of night, an office at a Christian childrens' camp is broken into and a crime is committed. A police detective is called to the scene to find the culprit. The suspects: the camp director's six employees. The only clue: a carrot left on the floor. And the crime?
Someone stole a book.
The stolen book was about being a Christian (not an actual Bible, mind you) and this leads the detective to suspect that the thief may not be one. What follows is six copy-pasted conversations where the detective questions each of the suspects:
- The detective greets the suspects and banters a bit with them.
- The detective gets a tip about another suspect, who are supposedly suspicious for some minor reason.
- The detective finds out that the suspect he's questioning has some character flaw that he thinks makes them less of a Christian.
- The following line from the detective:"That's odd. A Christian who [insert perceived flaw here]. That's interesting."
- The detective asks the suspect if they like carrots, and they say they do."Interesting."
The detective then joins the camp employees for a dinner where carrots are served. The six people he questioned all take a carrot, but put it back to avoid incriminating themselves. However, the camp director takes one. Later, the director gets the detective another copy of the stolen book. When he reads it, he figures out who the book thief is.
- Amazing Freaking Grace: When we first meet the cook, he's heard singing "Amazing Grace" (during which the detective joins in during the 2nd half of the verse), though the cook noticeably substitutes the word "cook" for the word "wretch"; something that becomes significant with his eventual slip-up that the cook took the book, and by extension was not truly a Christian.
- Batman Gambit: The detective accuses the camp director of stealing the book, incorrectly quoting Bible verses in order to get the real thief to correct him and reveal that they've read the book.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The ending, when the detective addresses the audience.
- Broken Record: Some lines of dialogue tend to get repeated even within the same conversations.Camp Director: When I came over to my desk, I noticed it: the book was gone.
Detective: The book was gone?
Camp Director: The book was gone.
- Dear Negative Reader: In the end of the movie, the detective "sees" that someone in the audience didn't like the movie.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Some random book at a camp goes missing, which is treated as no less than a dire emergency. One character even explicitly claims that this is somehow a worse crime than murder.
- Hollywood Law: In real life, the theft of a single, ordinary book, even during a break-in, would probably not warrant a full investigation by a detective, let alone a forensic investigation. However, the actual purpose of this seems to be figuring out which of the suspects is not a Christian, which is not only less needful of a detective, but not even illegal (it might be justifiable if he were a private investigator).
- Nameless Narrative: None of the characters are given any actual names.
- Only Sane Man: The camp's groundskeeper. He's the only staff member who finds the whole investigation pointless, pointing out the book "will turn up" eventually, with or without the detective's help.
- The Reveal: The cook is the thief.
- Summation Gathering: The detective holds one where he reveals the identity of the thief.
- Title Drop: The detective's line at the crime scene in the beginning.Detective: This is no small matter we're dealing with here. We're not talking about trespassing, robbery or even murder; we're dealing with a crime much more serious than that. When any person doesn't give their life to Jesus, they go down as committing... The Crime of the Age.
- Token Minority: The secretary, who is African-American.
- Two Girls to a Team: The nurse and the secretary.