And God Spoke
Without any doubt, Rob Reiner's This is Spinal Tap (1984) is the pinnacle of mockumentary filmmaking not only is Tap one of the funniest movies of all time, it has become the textbook example of how to make a documentary on a subject that doesn't exist. The single most crucial element to pulling off such a movie is that the filmmakers can never tip their hat that the subject they're covering isn't real; the humor needs to skirt the fine line between absurdity and reality, which is actually more difficult than it may seem. Coming ten years after Spinal Tap, director Arthur Borman's 1994 comedy
And God Spoke attempts to pull off the same sort of comedy that Reiner & Co. did so deftly. And though Borman never reaches the shear heights of Tap (nor has any other film for that matter), he does an admirable job. The film within a film revolves around producer Marvin Handleman (Stephen Rappaport) and director Clive Walton (Michael Riley), a pair of B-movie filmmakers whose credits include Nude Ninjas and She Beast. Their latest project is
And God Spoke, a big-budget adaptation of the Bible, an epic film neither is smart enough or talented enough to pull off. From no one knowing how many apostles there were (is it eight or ten?), to a Noah's Ark so big it can't fit through the doors of the soundstage, to an actress cast as Eve who can't be filmed nude because of a large tattoo, to a clueless production assistant losing the film stock, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Before Clive and Marvin know what's happening, they're behind schedule, over budget, and the studio that's backing the film decides to cut its losses. This leaves the struggling filmmakers in the awkward of position of trying to raise money any way they can, even if it means product placement endorsements, which include Moses (Soupy Sales in hilarious cameo) carrying the Ten Commandments and a six-pack of Coke.
And God Spoke is a solid comedy with some great laughs and clever moments. Borman and his team of writers manage to capture the ridiculous insanity that can run rampant on a film set, and at times it feels like we're watching a real documentary. But every now and then they push the envelope to far and it becomes obvious that this is really a joke. This is too bad, because it's these needless attempts to be even more funny that often negate the overall comedy. Still, the film manages to be more consistently amusing than 99% of all the other "comedies" released by Hollywood in any given year. Artisan's no-frills release of
And God Spoke has the sort of cheap packaging that makes it easy to pass a film up. Likewise, the full-frame presentation and the scene selection "special feature" hardly make for a compelling case to invest some hard-earned cash. Hopefully, the fact that this film has not been given its best presentation on DVD will not keep people from watching it. Keep-case.