What do you get when you combine shopping, television, religion, and Eddie Murphy? A thought-provoking but uneven comedy titled Holy Man.
Murphy plays “G,” an inspirational guru who helps heal the soul of Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum), a jaded television executive. Although concentrating on humor, Holy Man deals with such serious questions as:
Can you be spiritual and still achieve?
Do you have to give up your worldly possessions in order to experience spiritual growth?
Can commercialism and spirituality coincide?
At the beginning of the movie, Goldblum’s character is a man who thinks only of himself. As a top executive of the Good Boy Shopping Network, his job is on the line because of sagging sales. By hiring “G,” a charismatic itinerant holy man, Hayman hopes to make shopping via television a religious experience that will save his career. Little does he realize the dramatic transformation in store for him. Hayman’s interactions with the mysterious mystic slowly change him into someone who can think about something larger than himself.
Murphy and Golblum fit their roles well and seem to enjoy working together. Murphy claims to have watched Goldblum’s work -- way back to films like The Fly. And Murphy calls Goldblum “a funny and talented actor.” Director Stephen Herek was impressed with the duo’s teamwork. “Between them, they had a way of building a scene, dancing nimbly, I like to say, that wasn’t always on the page,” he explained. “Often they helped it grow into something larger and funnier than it was.”
Unfortunately, the script needed all the help it could get. Sustaining what is essentially a one-joke premise for an entire movie requires a small miracle which didn’t happen here. Still, I prefer seeing Murphy in uplifting roles like “G,” instead of watching him in crude comedies like The Nutty Professor films. (Capsule review)
(Released by Walt Disney Video and rated “PG” for some language.)