Holy Man (1998)

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Released 6-Mar-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 109:07
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stephen Herek
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Eddie Murphy
Jeff Goldblum
Kelly Preston
Robert Loggia
John Cryer
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Hebrew
Polish
Icelandic
Hungarian
German
Greek Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I wonder why it is that studios continue to produce comedies that are missing one absolutely vital ingredient? Worked out what that vital ingredient is? Quite simply, comedy. This is supposed to be a comedy, at least according to the cover blurb which spouts such rubbish as "the comedy where nothing is sacred", "the always hilarious Eddie Murphy" and "a refreshingly funny hit". Tell me when I am supposed to laugh, as I simply missed anything that must have been remotely funny in this film. Indeed, about the only thing that I found funny here was to read the way over-the-top cover blurb, which bears about as much in common with reality as me winning first division lotto. The other thing that I found funny was the fact that once again we have a cover riddled with errors and omissions, especially in regards to available soundtrack and subtitles options. Still, more of that anon. At the present time, let us concern ourselves with what passes as the story here.

    On the face of it, there was promise here for something rather funny. Alas, a decent enough story pitch has been turned into something less than worthwhile in reality. Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum) is a materially obsessed senior executive for the Good Buy Shopping Network, sweating under the fact that the network is not doing so well and his job is on the line. Indeed, some of the products they have to sell are absolute turkeys and nothing can move them. So bad are things that network head John McBainbridge (Robert Loggia) has brought in some hired guns to improve things, in the form of marketing gurus Kate Newell (Kelly Preston) and Scott Hawkes (Eric McCormack). Forced to work together, Ricky and Kate are driving down a Miami highway when a tyre blowout brings them into contact with G (Eddie Murphy), a somewhat unusual individual with unusual beliefs on a pilgrimage to a destination unspecified. One thing leads to another and Kate sees G as a way of boosting things on the network, as he possesses a certain naivety and trust that people respond to. What follows is a little predictable as Ricky falls in love with Kate, Kate is eventually appalled by Ricky's material obsessiveness and G goes somewhat over the top as he leads the network into ratings heaven, selling a myriad of products through exceedingly unusual means, including the previously unsaleable turkeys.

    One of the unique aspects of the film I suppose is the fact that it does make a very serious poke at the television evangelism rampant in the United States, which often blurs the lines between religious fervour and crass commercialism. Although this poke is taken, they could have gone so much further, but I suppose that the producers were mindful of the power of the Bible Belt, which has enormous influence over many aspects of American society - including film and television.

    As you can sort of gather from the predominantly B-grade cast here, we do indeed have a B grade film on offer. Whilst it is true that Eddie Murphy's career has seen a recent upturn owing to some genuinely funny films like The Nutty Professor and Dr Dolittle, this effort is a slight return to the days prior to those improvements in his career choices. Whilst he is by no means funny here, there is a certain degree of charm in his performance and he does not do a totally poor job here as the slightly askew G. Jeff Goldblum is right at home in such B-grade efforts as these and this demonstrates why - he brings just the right sort of qualities to a role such as this, without needing to bring any great acting demands to the role. He comes across as completely believable, which is more than can be said about Kelly Preston. To describe her as an actress is seriously overstating the situation and at best she provides some visual eye candy here to flesh out the story a little. But then again, none of them have been given material which could actually test their abilities - at best this is a reasonable premise gone astray and a story left wanting for more. A lot of the blame I believe can be laid at the feet of director Stephen Herek who simply cannot bring enough distinction to the film to drag it out of the mire.

    A great wasted celluloid opportunity here and I look forward to the day when someone with real talent takes this premise and really does something special with it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Buena Vista, thy mantra is inconsistency, so what have you granted us here? Well actually something not too bad.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. Multiple sources, such as the Internet Movie Database indicate that the original theatrical release was in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and others such as Amazon.com indicate that the Region 1 release boasts a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. We have been seriously stiffed by this appalling error.

    The transfer is generally sharp throughout and generally has a pretty good definition to it. It is by no means the absolute best in sharpness and definition however, and I would have expected it to be a lot sharper and better defined than it is. The transfer however is helped by the fact that it is generally clear and does not suffer from problems with grain. There are no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours come up quite nicely vibrant, and of a uniformly rich tone through out. The result is a quite pleasing image with a lot of bright vibrancy to it where necessary. There is no hint of oversaturation in the transfer at all, and this gives it a high degree of believability.

   Now, we get to the problem area - this is technically not a great transfer in my view. The main problem is the fact that the transfer seems to be cursed with a degree of what is presumably telecine wobble. In general, this is not too distracting except for an especially bad example between 58:20 and 58:50, not so much because of the degree of wobble but the fact that it lasts for a quite noticeable time. It is quite disturbing that this particular problem has surfaced on two straight discs from Buena Vista, but worse is to come - a third disc currently being reviewed also exhibits the problem. I am guessing that all three discs are from the same mastering source, and if I am right then Warner Home Video need to address the problem immediately. Apart from the wobble, there were no other apparent MPEG artefacts nor did there appear to be any film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts were almost absent from the film, which is to be expected in a film of such recent vintage. Overall, this is another slightly disappointing transfer from this source and does nothing to boost the stocks of Buena Vista at all.

   This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 70:14. The layer change is not too noticeable and really does not interrupt the film too much.

Audio

   Once again, we have an audio transfer that is a quite decent 5.1 effort, but nothing too spectacular.

   There are three audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 5.1 efforts, in English, German and Spanish. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times and there did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The musical score comes from Alan Silvestri, and a not too bad an effort it is either, with plenty of Hispanic influence - which of course means it is completely wasted on this film.

    Since the film does not demand it, we do not have a greatly dynamic soundtrack here, but we do get reasonable use of the surround channels. Whilst it may not be the most detailed soundtrack that I have ever heard, and the rear channels could have been somewhat better used in the overall mix, the resultant sound picture is completely natural and without much complaint. There is not a huge presence from the bass channel, but it does make an effective contribution where it is required. There is no distortion here at all and the clarity is good, so there is nothing really wrong with it at all, but it could have been a little better.

Extras

Menu (but what is it good for, absolutely nothing)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 4 misses out on:     Region 1 misses out on:     Sorry, but Region 1 wins here on the basis of the correct aspect ratio.

Summary

    Well, Holy Man is certainly not a comedy and this barely rises above mediocrity as anything else. Worth a rent I guess but I doubt that it is a film that you would return to often.

    A good video transfer, hampered a little by wobble problems.

    A good audio transfer.

    What the heck is an extra I hear the Buena Vista executives asking.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, April 25, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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