Picks and Pans Review: ...and God Spoke

updated 10/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Michael Riley, Stephen Rappaport, Soupy Sales, Eve Plumb, Lou Ferrigno

Playful, good-natured and often disarmingly funny, this low budget, subtle comedy is more a spoof of moviemaking than it is of religion.

It is presented as an ersatz documentary in the style of This Is Spinal Tap (whose director, Rob Reiner, even appears in a clip from an Oscar telecast). Riley and Rappaport play a pretentious independent producer-director team whose previous films include Dial S for Sex, Nude Ninjas and Alpha Beta deCappa. Their venture into big-budget epics with a book based on the Bible is herewith meticulously chronicled by director Arthur Borman, from the casting (the auditions for God, after Brando and De Niro pass on the role, are the most fun in the film) through the reviews (the funniest of which—from the Daily Worker—says irrelevantly, "This is the best possible movie for a communist to see"). That the film, like the play Springtime for Hitler in Mel Brooks's The Producers, ends up being a cult success seems not unreasonable, considering that Moses is played by Sales, who comes away from his summit with God carrying not only the Ten Commandment tablets but a six-pack of Coca-Cola, thanks to a product-placement deal. Plumb—"Jan" from The Brady Bunch—is Mrs. Noah, while Ferrigno is Cain, fighting Abel in a scene choreographed by a martial-arts expert. A few more similarly familiar faces would have enhanced this film, which relies on lots of inside jokes, such as a predatory casting director, a hyperfussy production designer who models the Ark on some wood chips his mother brought him from Israel, a continuity woman who loses count of the Disciples, as well as an arrogant editor who splices crowd scenes from Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same into the Bible movie so that Jesus will have a bigger following.

Christopher Guest's The Big Picture is a funnier, more pointed spoof of the movie industry; Monty Python's Life of Brian is a funnier, more pointed spoof of religion. But...And God Spoke is funnier, more pointed—and less tasteless—than any other comedy in theaters these days. (R)

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