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Holy Man

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Holy Man

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Stephen Herek
Rated: PG
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: October 1998
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Kelly Preston, Jon Cryer, Robert Loggia

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
1 star out of 4

"Holy Man" boasts a sweet, gentle, comic performance from an unusually subdued Eddie Murphy and a few moderately funny skits. Unfortunately, to get to the good stuff you have to sit through a painfully long set-up, loads of tedious filler, interminable shots of Jeff Goldblum stammering and twitching, a superfluous romantic subplot and quite possibly the most annoying performance of Robert Loggia's career. If ever a movie screamed "Wait for video so you can fast-forward through all the dull and annoying parts," this is it.

Eddie Murphy plays G, a robed nomadic pilgrim wandering the land enjoying the moment and spreading his spiritual message. A chance meeting with Ricky Hayman (Goldblum), a stressed-out executive of a home-shopping channel, and Kate Newell (Kelly Preston), a no-nonsense media analyst, results in physical injury to G. Quicker than you can say "The Odd Couple, " G ends up rooming with an extremely leery Ricky. After some script gymnastics, G appears live on the air at the Good Buy Shopping Network, wreaking havoc on the cheesy product demonstrations, enraging network owner Mr. McBainbridge (Loggia), and becoming a national media sensation.

"Holy Man" attempts to be several things at once. It tries to satirize home shopping networks, but it's difficult to effectively make fun of something that is already a self-parody. The film attempts to teach us that collecting material possessions is merely a futile attempt to fill the spiritual holes in our hearts, but that's common knowledge already. "Holy Man" also tries to present a story of redemption, as Ricky Hayman tries to decide whether to exploit G's good will to achieve financial security or do the right thing at the expense of his career. Anyone want to place a wager on his final decision?

The one genuine asset in "Holy Man" is Eddie Murphy, who gives a charming performance, sharing love, good will and relevant advice to all those around him, while beaming his million dollar smile at just the right moments. Murphy is delightful and the film takes off whenever he's onscreen.

Unfortunately, he's not onscreen enough. Jeff Goldblum gets the lion's share of screen time and his tired storyline weighs the proceedings down. As his potential love interest, Kelly Preston tries to brighten things up, but she transforms from an all-business media shark to an empathic softy far too quickly and the abrupt change reeks of contrivance. The other principal actor, Robert Loggia, wastes his talents in a one-note turn as a ruthless, screaming monster.

Structurally unsound and way too long, "Holy Man" is appealing when Murphy is onscreen and dull when he isn't. Instead of dropping your money at the theater for this trifle, wait until it hits video and fast-forward past everything except the Murphy scenes. G suggests that we focus on enjoying the moment and that's the best way to do so.

Copyright 1998 Edward Johnson-Ott

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