Plot: What’s it about?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say, straight-out, that one of my favorite actors is Steve Martin. Even though it looks like he hasn’t aged physically in about twenty years (pre-mature grey does have it’s advantages), he’s come a long way as an actor. He was one of the first comedians who had enough talent that he could actually make the transition to the big screen and be somewhat believable. Granted, most of his roles in the movies have been that of a comic nature, but his turn as a true “bad guy” in David Mamet’s “The Spanish Prisoner” showed that he had what it takes to make it in Hollywood. But a few years earlier, he took another part that wasn’t all comic, either, but it still played to his strengths. His role of Jonas Nightingale was that of the stereotypical “Faith Healer” who essentially cons trusting people out of their money. Though the scenes make use of Martin’s comic talent, the subject matter if far darker than anything we’ve seen from him before.
As the title suggests, the religious aspect of the film is at the very heart of it. Martin’s character travels from big city to big city where he has literally perfected the art of conning people out of their money. Using almighty God as his front, we see that maybe this hits a little too close to home when it comes to the supposed faith healers out there. High-tech computers and equipment are used (… woman in red, sixth row – has back problems) is something that is in Jonas’ earpiece and he uses his “skill” to not only exploit her condition, but make money off it as well. And so things happen like this. However, his bus breaks down in a small town and while waiting on the part, he decides to do a few shows in this local town. He meets and tries to seduce Marva (Lolita Davidovich), but as “luck” would have it; her child is actually crippled and now has some hope that Jonas might be able to cure him of his illness. Add to this the town sheriff (Liam Neeson) who is convinced that Jonas and his whole operation is a fraud, and we get the whole “been there, done that” scenario.
Now don’t get me wrong, I rather enjoyed “Leap of Faith”. I don’t think it’s one of Martin’s better roles, but one that was a challenge for him to do and one that I’d like to see him do again. Yes, Martin is funny and he shouldn’t try to do what Jim Carrey did, become a dramatic actor. Do what you’re good at and all will be well. That seems to be a lesson that he learned and has made quite a successful career out of. Even in his recent “Bringing Down the House”, he plays the same character but still manages to “ … hang with the hommes …” much to the delight of us all. “Leap of Faith” probably won’t go down as one of the best films of all time, it’s quite doubtful, actually. However, it’s something that fans of Steve Martin might want to check out as it’s a bit of a departure for him. And if you’re tired of his typical roles, that could be a good thing.
Video: How does it look?
Paramount presents “Leap of Faith” in a fairly good-looking 1.85:1 transfer. The film, believe it or not, is ten years old but it doesn’t really show that many signs of age. The colors used are surprisingly bright in areas (Martin’s jacket practically leaps off the screen in some instances). However, there are other scenes in which the print seems dingy, aged and faded. It’s this kind of inconsistency that makes assigning a “grade” to the transfer so difficult. Certainly it’s not the best-looking transfer out there, yet it’s not the worst. I have to admit that I was initially surprised, but when it’s all said and done, I think most will find it average at best.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, as with most of Paramount’s catalog titles, this features a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Ten years ago, we were just starting to encode films with a digital soundtrack (this wasn’t one of them, however). While the upmix from Dolby Surround (a track that’s also included on the DVD as well) does sound a bit better, there tends to be some hollow points. All the sound in the world can’t add a lot to the film, though during several of the “evangelist” scenes, the surrounds kick in and make for a more pleasant atmosphere. All in all, not a bad effort here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The DVD has no supplements unless you count subtitles and the original Dolby Surround mix.