Holy Man (1998) – Review

2 Stars

Eddie Murphy is a spiritual guru, who becomes an unwitting spokesperson for a morally bankrupt network manager in the boring and unfocused comedy Holy Man. This long, and strange story sets its self up as a broad satire only to include slapstick moments, and unsubtle attempts at poignancy. There is no flow to the narrative, scenes abruptly fade out and into one another visually, it’s a distracting technique that typifies this film’s lack of connective tissue between its theme and story.

Can commerce and religion co-exist? That seems to be the question Holy Man is asking. Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum) is barely hanging onto his job as senior executive at the Good Buy home shopping network. He needs a miracle to save his position and to lift the channels sagging ratings. While out on a drive with his new co-worker Kate Newell(Kelly Preston), the car gets a flat tire and out of nowhere “G” (Murphy) literally walks into their lives.

“G” turns out to be a (literal?) godsend for the two. Later, the inspirational guru shows up at the station and wanders in front of the cameras, his irrepressible smile, and positive message make his time slot an instant ratings winner. Along his journey to stardom, “G” shuns the trappings of success and instead devotes his attention to the personal lives of Ricky and Kate.

It’s hard to envision what the creative forces behind the project thought they had in their hands. Was the screenplay re-tailored to fit Murphy’s ‘star’ persona? Was the film cut into this jumble of tone from an 11th hour tinkering? Regardless of the if’s, what plays out on-screen is a waste of Murphy’s warmth and eagerness to stretch as a performer.

Director: Stephen Herek
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum, Kelly Preston, Robert Loggia, Jon Cryer

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