BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE MAN WHO SUED GOD

By • Mar 13th, 2007 •

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DVD Distributed by Universal

Scottish stand up comedian Billy Connolly (recently featured in The Last Samurai) plays divorced and disillusioned ex-lawyer Steve Myers, who now whiles away his time on a fishing boat in New South Wales, Australia. One afternoon his boat, which is now basically his life, is destroyed by a bolt of lightning, which also results in a chard of the hull being embedded in his foot.

On crutches he approaches his insurance company who refuse to pay as the incident is deemed an ‘Act of God’. Connolly’s traditional Celtic brand of outrageous, yet amusing, expletives result in his being carried unceremoniously out of the building.

Undeterred by this he decides to challenge the very meaning of the term ‘Act of God’, which by its very nature determines that someone (in this case God) is responsible, and if someone (God) is responsible then they (or He) can therefore be sued… or at least their (or His) representatives can.

The subsequent court case generates a media storm as Myers, a not unaccomplished and uncharismatic courtroom tactician, initially runs rings around his opponents.

Thus begins the David and Goliath battle between the little man and the formidable powers of the Church and the massive legal and insurance firms in their employ. Myers also gathers 800 or so co-plaintiffs, all victims of the ‘Act of God’ clause, to support him in his case. It eventually gets to the point where it looks like the only way the church are going to win their case is to prove that God doesn’t exist.

It’s a clever, simple premise and one you wish you’d thought of yourself.

It’s no coincidence that Connolly’s character is a fisherman, or even a fisher of men, and that his beef is with the corrupt insurance companies representing an apparently corrupt church. If it was suddenly discovered that Christ was Scottish, then it would have been Connolly calming the storm out on the Sea of Galilee, and Connolly who threw the moneylenders out of His Father’s house, and, hirsute and ranting as he is in this movie, impressive he would have been too. Billy Connolly as Christ – now that would even give Mel Gibson a run for his money… I bet he’d be great at parting the Red Sea… oh, no, that was Moses wasn’t it. Never mind, he could play that role too (nobody seems to worry about accents in movies anyway) and in fact he almost pleads to the court on behalf of his co-plaintiffs ‘Let my people go’, or rather ‘Give my people their money you bastards’, but with a smile and a twinkle in the eye that only Connolly can get away with – well, him and Sean Connery. Why haven’t they been teamed up in a movie? It seems like a match made in Heaven to me.

There are many storms brewing toward the end of the film; Religious zealots surround the courthouse hurling abuse at the blasphemer Myers; Myers can’t afford to lose the case; the lawyers can’t afford to either, nor can the church, and there’s also a mighty wind storm approaching the town bringing forest fires and floods (and no doubt frogs, plague and locusts) with it.
Needless to say it’s a happy ending, the lawyers and the church get their knuckles rapped, the image of God remains untarnished (of course), Myers gets the girl and the zealots go home sulking and dragging their large wooden cross with them in another Christ reference.

It’s a refreshing film, as most Australian movies are. There’s great attention to character and background detail. Connolly (Water, Mrs. Brown, Muppet Treasure Island, Boondock Saints, Timeline), undoubtedly a talented actor and comedian, is obviously cast for distribution purposes (Myers isn’t a particularly Scottish name after all) and seems a little out of place in the Australian backdrop, but his rants are very funny. Veteran and versatile Australian actress Judy Davis (Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity, Absolute Power, The Reagans), as Myers’ journalistic co-conspirator and love interest, is subject to some slapstick humour as a drunken and literally legless Myers wrecks a restaurant, and the excellent supporting cast are all the more convincing for their unfamiliarity.

The Region 2 cover is less apocalyptic than the Region 1 release and more in keeping with the feel of the movie. Curiously though, and a typical example of nonsensical marketing, none of the group of religious and legal figures depicted (apart from a slipped in head shot of Davis) actually appear in the film, nor does the dog pee on anyone’s leg, and come to that, it’s not even the same breed of dog – who’s name is Arthur by the way, the one who’s in the film I mean. He’s quite funny too…


Cast:
Billy Connolly: Steve Myers
Judy Davis: Anna Redmond
Colin Friels: David Myers
Bille Brown: Gerry Ryan
Wendy Hughes: Jules Myers

Credits:
Directed by Mark Joffe
Original Screenplay by John Clarke
Produced by Ben Gannon & Mark Joffe
for the New South Wales Film and TV Association

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