140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
Bet you haven’t thought of this one in forever, huh? Neither had I. Interesting to remember movies used to be this pace and no one minded…
Spoiler-free Movie Review of Oh, God!:
Would you believe I actually read this book before seeing the movie? It’s true. I saw the sequels as a kid, but I have just about no recollection of seeing the original picture. I do, however, remember finding the worn little paperback novel by Avery Corman in a used bookstore in Newton Highlands. It was probably age-inappropriate, but only barely – it’s not like this story ever goes very blue or very dark.
I haven’t read the novel since I was a kid, but watching Oh, God! now, it plays almost verbatim to my memory of the story. The original novel was adapted by Larry Gelbart, whose screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award.
It was actually really interesting watching this film series with my family. My daughter absolutely ate it up; I was quite pleasantly surprised. I knew she’d love Oh, God! Book II if we ever got to it, but that was far from a certainty. I really had no idea how she’d respond to something so dated. She’s watched older films, of course, but Oh, God! absolutely screams 1977 and I knew I’d need to explain about payphones, etc. She really enjoyed it, though…
It’s sort of funny to look back on this film. At the time it was a big hit; it was the sixth biggest picture in 1977. It made more than Annie Hall and The Spy Who Loved Me!
(Sidebar: what a mixed bag 1977 was – we got classic films like Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Slapshot, but it also saw the deaths of Elvis Presley, Groucho & Gummo Marx, Charlie Chaplin and Howard Hawks…)
The story is cute and covertly subversive. Not only were they able to talk about God in a feature film, they managed to get across huge section of preaching disguised as dialogue. George Burns is a real Trojan Horse – when he delivers the message, people listen…
Aside from Burns, it’s a bizarre cast. First off, John Denver is just not a lead actor. I like his everyman appeal and everything, but it seems as though every single line of dialogue is shouted. Terri Garr is well cast as his put-upon wife, or maybe I just love Terri Garr too much to be objective.
But the supporting roles: Donald Pleasence, Dinah Shore, and Paul Sorvino as a bible-thumping televangelist – it’s truly odd stuff. Barnard Hughes is a judge for goodness sake – that’s how stodgy it is…
I know it’s a cute little comedy and everything, but if God were to come to Earth and try to convince a courtroom full of people of his existence, I have a hard time believing he’d use card tricks. This movie came out five months after Star Wars – that’s just not going to get her done…
Oh, God! is a fun little picture. At 98 minutes it’s far too long to hold the attention of modern filmgoers. It was probably too long even then – the thing really creeps along considering how few actual events are pictured. But if you can slow yourself down and make time for it, Oh, God! really is a clever little film. It’s not as entertaining maybe as the sequels (to my eye), but there’s some really good dialogue. Recommended…
The Representation Test Score: C (5 pts)
|Main Cast||John Denver Jerry Landers
George Burns God
Teri Garr Bobbie Landers
Donald Pleasence Doctor Harmon
|Release Date||Fri 07 Oct 1977 UTC|
|Plot||When God appears to an assistant grocery manager as a good natured old man, the Almighty selects him as his messenger for the modern world.|
|Tagline||“It’s true. People have trouble remembering My Words. Moses had such a bad memory I had to give him tablets.”|
|Writers||Larry Gelbart (screenplay), Avery Corman (based on the novel by)|