Eddie's in Search for the G-Spot
Eddie Murphy dispensing spiritual advice, it is something which during the 80s you wouldn't have expected yet that is what he does in "Holy Man" a movie which for some reason isn't as popular as it should be. I suppose the reason why is that those who don't rate it had expectations which it didn't live up to yet could not see how entertaining it is because of these preconceptions. Take Eddie Murphy as G, this is an Eddie Murphy different to his dangerous and loud persona of the 80s and those who loved the big smile, big laugh and big amount of swearing will be bored by a safe Eddie Murphy. Then there is the lampooning of shopping networks, hawking daft products to the gullible it is not as biting as you might anticipate considering that it is ripe for humiliating satire. Yet the simple lampooning, the restrained Eddie Murphy and the fact we have a comedy with a message works to provide entertainment with meaning which is something I am sure is also a reason why some did not like "Holy Man".
After 2 years of flat sales shopping channel executive Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum - The Lost World: Jurassic Park) is under pressure to improve sales and in order to do so his boss John McBainbridge (Robert Loggia) has brought in expert Kate Newell (Kelly Preston) to help. But on the way to a meeting Ricky and Kate almost run over G (Eddie Murphy - Doctor Dolittle), a mysterious spiritual man who minutes earlier had offered to help change their tyre. Feeling guilty Ricky offers him a place to stay whilst he recovers and in doing so discovers that G, whilst very unpredictable is a natural salesman when one day he walks onto the shopping channel set. It seems that Ricky has found the answer to his prayers in G as success leads to G getting his own show called "The G-Spot" but is it really the answer to his prayers or is Ricky just getting more and more distracted by the real reason he got into sales in the first place.
Now whilst "Holy Man" was written by Tom Schulman you can certainly spot influences from other movies as it has a similar theme to the likes of "The Preacher's Wife". As such we have Ricky, a stressed Shopping Channel exec who in amongst all the pressure has lost his reason for what he is doing, although he doesn't realise it. And so when a chance encounter with the spiritual G brings him into his life we have Ricky slowly changing and realising his loss of focus forcing him into making some tough decisions about doing what is right for him or right for everyone.
At the same time as this we have the stereotypical romance as Ricky falls for Kate another Exec and she likes the changes she sees in Ricky but of course things don't run smoothly. Add into that a conniving exec who wants the top job in charge of the channel and we have a lot of cliche elements you can find in other movies.
But these various elements nicely combine to create this story with depth. That depth comes from the fact that G is this slight mysterious spiritual person who delivers a message about living the right way and not being distracted by other things such as possessions and money. Of course with this being a comedy it is not necessarily deep but it does give the movie a meaning and makes you think about your own priorities.
The thing about all of this is that it is all very safe, the humour which comes from the lampooning of a shopping network is safe, the humour of Scott being a conniving rival exec is safe and everything Eddie Murphy does as G is very safe. And it means that if you watched "Holy Man" expecting Eddie Murphy to be loud delivering some biting satire about shopping networks you are going to be disappointed. And if you are disappointed you may also find the message about getting your priorities right and doing the right thing a bit to saccharine to take especially as director Stephen Herek does not hold back on the sweetness.
But then if you enjoy the safeness then you are going to love the simple humour which Eddie Murphy delivers as G, in fact you will probably enjoy G as a character because he is amusing. But then so are all the other characters from Jeff Goldblum as Ricky with his job on the line through to Robert Loggia as his greedy boss. There isn't anything stand out about any of these performances but they work well within the sweet context of the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Holy Man" whilst by no means a great movie is often one which gets mocked because it is not what people were expecting. It manages to deliver this sweet comedy with meaning whilst showing that Eddie Murphy can be funny playing it very safe.