Tuesday, 16 July 2013

No.197 : Wholly Moses

Wholly Moses at the IMDb

Dudley Moore stars in this alleged religious comedy that boasts a few star cameos but lacks any laughs whatsoever.

We open with a bus tour of the Holy Land with Moore recovering from recent heartbreak. He talks to a girl and helps find her hat when it blows off. Needless to say it blows into a cave and they find a lost gospel - ‘The Book of Herschel’. As luck would have it Moore is an expert in ancient languages and as he reads the script we dissolve into the past where his words are acted out. All that in the first five minutes - we’re not talking a bout a slow burning labyrinth plot here!

The first bible tale to be lampooned is a lift from ‘Life of Brian’ with Hershel almost having the life that Moses had. As baby Moses is set adrift on his boat made from reeds another child is similarly dispatched. While Moses is found by a princess Hershel is brought up by a family nearby with his own father acting a a slave so he can keep watch. Not surprisingly the baby grows up to be Dudley Moore - the man has range! - and he haplessly finds his way up the social order. In one massively familiar scene a group of conspirators say ‘we need a real idiot to do the job’ just as Moore sticks his head through the curtains. We all saw that one coming! I think it was even old in biblical times!

What follows are risible scenes where Moore, as the Royal Astronomer, talks at length with a jive talking pharaoh who for some reason is a black teenager. He also acts as food tester but sadly the poison is not present. He later survives a massive battle with literally several troops on either side. The disconnected scenes are interlinked by Moore’s tiresome narration and the whole enterprise seems solely geared to shoehorning in as many B list celebrities as possible - oh look there’s Dom Deluise.

Wee Dud is then cast out into the desert and soon gets a job as a shepherd. He meets a beautiful girl - it’s her from the bus! - and is annoyed at having to keep up with the Moseses. His big chance comes when he stumbles across Moses getting his instructions from the burning bush and thinks the mission is for him. He sets off to Egypt to free the slaves and starts to believe he can perform miracles due to other unrelated events such as thinking he can part waters due to a dam being built upstream. If it started bad it gets worse as the curing of the unwilling beggar from ‘Life of Brian’ is performed in full.

As Dud nears the end of the ancient script you have to wonder why his agent didn’t throw the movie version straight in the bin. It’s not just that it totally unoriginal and devoid of any wit or merit it’s just so lazy and obvious that it’d be an insult to an ‘The Only Way is Essex’ viewer. Dudley has never laid claim to being a great actor but he’s basically just himself in both timelines. This can be funny if it’s a big and engaging personality but he’s not funny and can’t carry a small bucket never mind the whole film.

The script is appalling with loads of bible references piled up alongside jokes on the ass = bottom scale of funniness. The production values are also poor with California ‘doubling’ for the Holy Land. This is done with a couple of matte paintings and some costumes that look like they’ll be due back at the fancy dress shop by 5pm.

As you may have gathered ‘Wholly Moses’ was a god-awful mess and perhaps God should have rested on the day this was excreted out too. © Spinal tap.

Best Bit : The orgy of soddom was remarkably tame but we’ll take what we can get. 7/21

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