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A satire about televangelists. The plot is not very tight, but is filled with profanity (ouch!) inventive jokes - and good ones about religion. The cast is put to REALLY good use. I don't know that many comedies that freely comment on society, apart from John Water's. So many American comedies begin nicely - that is to say badly - , but as soon as a plot kicks in, it all goes back to the good ol' family values. Like "Bad Santa", or more recently "Bad Words"; etc. But this one was shot in the very early 80s, before the return to order which would be initiated by the (REAGAN!) right wing, and completed with the "left wing" politically correct police of speech. Yep, in those days you could find jokes about incest in family comedies like "vacation", whose rank in rotten tomatoes can only be explained by nostalgy - from people who haven't watched it again since the days, and would ban it if it came out nowadays. Well, it's not funny anyway. But this one makes good use of the after effect of the subversive cultural movements of earlier years, which for a short period allowed some freedom of speech in Hollywood, as long as it brought money in the bank.
This movie has been out of public circulation since VHS days. To see a Blu-ray copy available was met with high skepticism and low expectations. Those were quashed the minute I hit "Play" The producer of this disc found a quite good print and did an excellent transfer. Some film grain is apparent but the image clarity and audio is very good to excellent presented on my 65" screen. If you are a fan of the movie or haven't seen it and love Marty Feldman, Richard Pryor, Peter Boyle and the comic genius of Andy Kaufman you should scoop up this print. Money well spent.
Marty Feldman was excoriated by critics for making this film and Hollywood treated him like a pariah after the box office returns matched the sparse publicity budget. Reevaluated decades later, viewers will find Feldman actually made a trenchant satire that predicted many of the transgressions affecting modern day institutions, namely the lack of separation between church and state and the voracious exploitation of religious beliefs by the extreme right. Marty Feldman bit the hand that fed him with this satire, openly mocking the then parent company of Universal as well as grinding sacred cows into hamburger. (No small feat for a vegetarian like Feldman.) Feldman’s portrayal of an innocent monk thrust from a cloistered life inside a monastery into corrupt and decade Los Angeles is sweet and nuanced, but the main attraction here is the glorious performance of Andy Kaufman as a bombastic televangelist with a sinister agenda. Feldman executes some nimble slapstick throughout, but the sum of the parts aims for something higher and darker. While there are many laughs, the intention of the film isn’t to be hilarious per se, but to present a very personal message that also serves as a prescient warning. Needless to say, Marty Feldman had unique vision.
To evangelical Christianity what Dogma is to Catholicism, hilarious. The story of a monk left on the steps of the monastery as an infant with a note"this child was a gift from god, please return to sender", a lady of the evening and two preachers trying to avoid fornication. A hilarious misconception results.