By standards of the new, irreverent documentaries, the humor in “The Making Of…And God Spoke” is too sane and too safe to qualify as a midnight movie, as it was shown at the Toronto Festival. However, the good-natured frolic and nearly always funny mock docu should appeal to young, hip viewers in major urban centers.
The versatile Michael Riley is perfectly cast as Clive Walton, the director of a humongous biblical epic, produced by Marvin Handleman (Steven Rappaport). It's one step up the ladder for the two, after teaming together on a number of B-movies on the order of Dial S for Sex or The Nude Ninjas.
Caper follows the execution of the biblical film, phase by phase, from pre-production all the way to theatrical release. Chief problem with this loose, anecdotal comedy is that its humor is predictable and that it revolves around the mutations of basically one good joke. There have been so many books and films, both serious and comical, about Hollywood and behind-the-scenes of filmmaking that most viewers are not going to be surprised by the disasters and mishaps that this made-in heaven team faces.
The first part of the satire is the best, detailing the preparation of the screenplay and casting. The writer contends that he didn't write the script, that God brought it to him. And when the script proves too long, major but depressing characters like Job are omitted from the movie without a blink.
Among the many highlights are the casting sessions for Jesus and Virgin Mary and the shooting of Adam and Eve, with the latter unexpectedly revealing a huge tattoo on her body when undressed. Later, when Moses descends from the mountains with the Ten Commandments, a six-pack Coca Cola is detected by the distressed director, but he is told that product placement was simply a necessity to finance their picture.
The fight between Cain, played by a professional prizefighter, and Abel, cast with a short, sensitive and seemingly gay man (who nonetheless insists he isn't a pansy) is choreographed by a karate specialist and nearly kills Abel.
Fast pacing, blend of accents and acting styles (a good stab at Hollywood's dreadful biblical sagas of the 1950s), and some hilarious one-liners compensate for a mock docu that, if anything, is not wild or crazy enough and doesn't boast too many spurts of inspiration.
There is one weak sequence, involving the securing of funds for the film's completion, which almost brings The Making Of to a dead end. Miraculously, however, docu regains its initial verve and gusto and concludes on a high, euphoric note, when the biblical epic assumes a cult status like the notorious midnight flick, The Rocky Horror Show.
With some luck, decent reviews, and proper marketing, The Making Of…And God Spoke may indeed follow the fate of the 1975 hit, with lines of people, all dressed in biblical regalia, waiting to see the film and participate in its “religious” experience.
A Brookwood Entertainment production.
Produced by Mark Rothman and Richard Raddon.
Directed by Arthur Borman.
Screenplay, Greg Malins, Michael Curtis.
Camera, Lee Daniel.
Editor, Wendy Stanzler.
Music, John Masarri.
Art direction, Joe Tintfass.
Sound, Brian Tracy.
Clive Walton (director)……Michael Riley
Marvin Handleman (producer)..Steven Rappaport