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Review: Dear Lord, this is 'Holy Man'?

Web posted on: 10/13/98 10:17:50 AM EDT

From Reviewer Paul Tatara

(CNN) -- A great man named George Carlin once said that if you nail together two things that have never been nailed together before, somebody out there will buy one.

"Holy Man," the new Eddie Murphy comedy (a highly inappropriate word for it), nails together consumerism and New Age mumbo-jumbo into a virtual Frankenstein's monster. Even with the American audience's lowered standards of cinematic entertainment, I'll be extremely surprised if Carlin's Theorem holds up this time. And, if it does, the "yes, Master" zombies out there will certainly get what's coming to them.

God only knows what was going through the filmmakers' minds when they came up with this one. You have to understand how the film industry works to even take a guess. For every movie that gets off the ground because a writer or producer has an idea that appeals to them as human beings -- something they truly believe in and would honestly like to explore, comically or otherwise -- 10 other movies are made because some fast talker in the office figures there are a multitude of shmucks out there who'll go for the nailing-together without question.

Watch the theatrical preview for "Holy Man"

Windows Media: 28k or 56k
Real: 28k or 56k

These are called "high concept" films, big fat shams that pretend to be stories, but are about one thing and one thing only: Convincing people that this particular whammy of foolishness is exactly what their empty lives desperately need.

Eddie Murphy as mystic 'G.'

Remember how McDonald's once managed to talk the majority of the free world into thinking that pure eating enjoyment was based on having a hamburger that was half hot (the patty) and half cold (the lettuce and tomato)? That's what's going on in "Holy Man." Murphy plays a serene mystic (or something) named G. who meets cute with a couple of Home Shopping Network executives (Jeff Goldblum and Kelly Preston), and eventually ups their sales and spiritual well-being through greeting-card philosophizing.

It's such a lamely bizarre idea that it's hard to believe actors like Murphy, Goldblum, and Preston could generate any interest in it. My guess is that they weren't interested all, but ... well, see Carlin's Theorem.

I know a lot of people buy useless junk over the TV these days, but it's not the kind of trend that calls out for multi-million dollar satirizing. Besides, the satire that Oscar-winning (!) screenwriter Tom Schulman comes up with is best suited for late night TV, the kind of stuff that a roomful of bored comedians can shout out at each other in one afternoon.

Celebrities hawking foolish goods

The movie is loaded with har-dee-har-har appearances by celebrities hawking foolish goods, and how that's any different than the movie itself is beyond me.

Morgan Fairchild's face is hooked up to a car battery that's supposed to get rid of wrinkles; Soupy Sales (who I once rode in an elevator with; just trying to be interesting) Super Glues a little boy to the ceiling; Betty White sells a perfume called "Clam" that brings on sexual ecstasy. You see, clams don't smell good, and Betty White's real old.

Schulman's last script was "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag." I would say more, but let's face it.

Murphy shaved his head in preparation, and walks around in a long, white sarong, grinning like a possum. G.'s breathtakingly complex spiritual insights (the ones that turn on the TV viewers and inexplicably trigger their buying impulses) run along the lines of pointing out that it's better to be like the Dalai Lama instead of a "Baywatch" babe because the Dalai Lama has achieved inner peace.

If I had had a pencil with me and had been able to get all this stuff down, I'd now be living a fuller life. Instead, I just had to sit through another crappy movie.

G. does not stand for good. There's a little bit of profanity, I think, but frankly I don't remember. Discerning audience members may provide some, though, so prepare yourself emotionally. Rated PG. 114 minutes. Kids won't be harmed by it, but very small pets might not be able to keep up.

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