Holy Man

1998, Movie, PG, 114 mins


Despite the way it's being marketed, this isn't an thigh-slapping Eddie Murphy comedy: It's some kind of Capra-esque fable about the moral redemption of a cable shopping network executive named Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum), with occasional laughs. Ricky is on the ropes: Unable to move enough tacky doormats and laundry detergent holders to please his boss (Robert Loggia), the original killer capitalist, and forced to work with go-getting new kid Kate Newall (Kelly Preston), he's two weeks away from being fired and losing his flashy car, Florida condo, stylish clothes and shaky self-image. Enter G (Murphy), whom Kate and Ricky discover kissing the grass alongside a highway. G's claim that he's on a pilgrimage enthralls Kate and convinces Ricky that he's a con man or a nut or worse. But wacky happenstance lands G first in Ricky's spare room and then on the shopping network, where his irreverent spiritual observations and complete disregard for the rules of shilling for dollars make him a media hero. The movie's tone fluctuates wildly, suggesting that no one was exactly sure what kind of movie they were making. A nutty comedy in which Goldblum makes a geeky fool of himself miming a message to assistant Barry (Jon Cryer) to the accompaniment of kooky sitcom music? A knowing, satirical look at the shallow values and mores of media types, as cameos by Soupy Sales, Morgan Fairchild, designer Nino Cerutti and others suggest? Or an inspirational fantasy about the absence of faith in our shallow, consumerist lives? It tries to do all of the above and ends up doing none of them well and at considerable length. Good intentions abound, but we all know where they lead. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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