The entire premise of 'Holy Man' rests on one assumed fact: that the presence of Eddie Murphy will somehow breathe life into an otherwise stale screenplay. Murphy was an '80s powerhouse, but by the late '90s he was infamous for picking one bad project after another. While 'Holy Man' isn't his most egregious sin, it certainly turned out to be a stinker in its own right.
It's 1998 and apparently the thought is that Murphy and a resurgent Jeff Goldblum, who recently starred in two huge blockbusters – 'Independence Day ' and 'Jurassic Park' – could carry a light-hearted comedy together. Throw in the smiling, affable Kelly Preston and you have a surefire hit right?
Murphy does what he does best and takes on a completely ridiculous persona in G, a kind-hearted spiritual guide. Goldblum does what he does best and takes on yet another role where he's asked to ramble. Goldblum plays Ricky Hayman a studio executive for a home shopping network. It's hard not to laugh at the movie's dated quality. 1998 was that nebulous time period where we still weren't sure if shopping on the Internet would take off, so home shopping was the wave of the future.
Ricky spends his days coordinating infomercials with charismatic salesmen who try to pitch vacuum cleaners, knives, and anything else that might be sold to impulse buyers. Only now he's hit a slump and he needs to find a quick fix.
Enter G, a loving soul who could be compared to Paul Rudd's Ned in 'Our Idiot Brother' only more spiritual and infinitely less likable. Murphy takes on G with some noteworthy zeal, but even his comedic talent can't overcome the flatness that the script finds itself mired in. The problem arises when the movie wants you to believe that G is anything more than a charlatan that has read a few well-known Ghandi quotes. The screenplay tries and tries to make G into this mythical being with all the answers, who solves problems with kindness and philosophy, but no care has gone into crafting an actual philosopher. If this movie was about how G is a complete and utter fraud, then maybe it would be considered successful. Since it wants us to wholeheartedly believe that he is indeed some sort of holy man who can help anyone at any time, it fails.
Since G is such a charismatic, convincing personality Ricky has a brilliant idea. Why not have G hawk his home shopping wares on television? Of course, G is a natural, and the products start flying out the door. A montage or two later and G has become the most famous home shopping personality ever, and Ricky is raking in the dough.
Preston and Goldblum are as lifeless as the script. Their supposed love for one another is non-existent as far as onscreen chemistry is concerned. Most every romantic comedy asks the same question: Will they ultimately find happiness with each other? Here we just don't care because it's hard to understand if they even like each other.
We know what must happen though. This is the same formula we've seen played out time and time again. Just like a romantic comedy, a big conflict looms. One of the biggest problems is that the movie takes forever to get there. It's at least 20 minutes too long. 114 minutes is nowhere near the proper length for a by-the-numbers comedy like this. Shorten it down to 90 and we'll talk.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This region free disc distributed by Mill Creek Entertainment is packaged in a standard keepcase and is pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc.
This transfer from the late '90s looks like it came from the late '90s. There's an overall gauziness to the proceedings that is reminiscent of many catalog titles from that time period. Slightly washed-out colors, less than inky blacks, and soft focus.
Close-ups do feature enough skin texture detail that you can tell you're viewing high definition. While features as small as pores may not be as visible as they are in recent releases, hair, freckles, and Goldblum's five o'clock shadow are all clearly visible most of the time.
Mid-range shots have a softness to them that should be expected from most movies filmed in the '90s. Crushing is mildly annoying. Minor banding was visible in a couple scenes, but only if you were actively searching for it. Overall, it's an average transfer from an obscure catalog title. Expecting more would be a mistake anyway.
Continuing along with the serviceable feeling of this disc's presentation is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless mix. The only immersion you'll feel during this mix is when Ricky and G walk through the busy home shopping set while commercials are being filmed all around them. The rear speakers pipe up with some ambient noise which is nice. The highway scene, where G crosses four lanes of road without getting splattered, has some decent surround sound also.
Dialogue is acceptably clear, although whispered lines are a little too soft for their own good. The center channel felt like it was mixed just a tad too low compared to the rest of the group. Directionality is satisfactory, but not overly engaging. The mix, for the most part, is accurate. It just doesn't have any aspects that will wow or excite.
'Holy Man' is another entry in the long list of bad movies that Eddie Murphy has done. It's apparent that he's still got his comedic talent hidden somewhere deep inside, but the tired script does nothing to unleash it. The audio and video are pretty average as far as catalog releases go. Probably a rental at best, unless you've seen it, then there's no reason to ever see it again.