Holy Man

G

Holy Man, the new Eddie Murphy comedy is a case of what I can now call Ronin syndrome. You see, a few weeks ago, an awful movie called Ronin was released, and it was a classic case of a movie which wanted to be more than it realistically could be. While Holy Man is not nearly as bad as Ronin, it is such a movie as well.

Eddie Murphy is “G”, a strange, evangelistic “holy man” encountered by Ricky (Jeff Goldblum) when his car breaks down. Reluctantly, he is forced to take the man into his home. Then, when the Home Shopping Network that he works for begins falling apart, Ricky discovers that G may be a blessing in disguise — who new that a man in a nightgown could sell starfish necklaces so damn well?

Holy Man provides a few pretty good laughs, but the film just doesn’t work as well as it should have. Why? Because it suffers from Ronin syndrome. The film can’t settle for being a pretty good comedy, no, they try to make it a deep meditation on the evil of consumerism. And not that the many dramatic elements of the film are bad, from a cinematic standpoint. No, this film is made by people good at drama, as it it is directed by the maker of Mr. Holland’s Opus. It doesn’t work for two reasons; a) it’s hard to buy its concept and b) the film is too disorganized and disjointed: wacky comedy seems to have been randomly inserted between long strings of seriousness. But let’s get back to the former reason. The film tries to tell us that consumerism, as a whole is bad. I don’t buy it, simply because the way the film goes about telling us this is unconvincing. This destroys the point of the drama in the movie. They should have settled for comedy.

Still, those moments that are supposed to be funny are funny, many thanks to the immense, but wasted comedic talents of the great Eddie Murphy, who, unlike in his turn in Dr. Dolittle succeeds in his role here. Surprisingly though, his role is pretty small, and Jeff Goldblum takes center stage here. His character is actually extremely annoying, in ways which will be obvious if you see the film.

If Holy Man didn’t shoot at the wrong target and miss, it could have been a good movie. The way it is, it’s always watchable, sometimes enjoyable, never special.

-- Eugene Novikov

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