Oh, God!

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The world is filled with religious leaders, all of whom have taken the task of spreading the gospel to the masses, but do they know, God has plans for someone else to take His word out to the public. The man chosen to handle this mighty task is Jerry Landers (John Denver), who is not even a religious person, though he does live a good lifestyle. He works as an assistant manager at a grocery store, is married to the beautiful Bobbie (Teri Garr), and has young children, but now he has the personal responsibility of being God’s messenger. It all started with a note that invited him to an interview with God, but Jerry assumed it was some kind of scam, until the note returned again and again, so he broken down and went to the interview. He is surprised to see that God (George Burns) is a kindly old man and while he is skeptical at first, he soon relents and agrees to carry the message out to the world. But it won’t be that easy, as he is doubted by most and mocked by some, as even his family has some doubts. As he was chosen by God however, if anyone can pull off this assignment, it has to be Jerry Landers.

I’ve seen Oh, God! a few times before on cable and while it never struck me as a great movie, it has been to fun at times. The laughs are never that consistent, but some warm moments and memorable lines can be found, without a doubt. The topic of religion is a tough one to explore in movies, but director Carl Reiner (The Jerk) and writer Larry Gelbart (Tootsie) manage to do what few have been able to do, make an effective, but never overly preachy religious picture. The existence of God is touched upon with great skill and care, to ensure the message gets across, but the audience isn’t given the hellfire & brimstone treatment in the process. Of course, part of the film’s success is due to the presence of George Burns, who turns in a terrific performance, as well as other cast members like John Denver, Teri Garr, and Donald Pleasance. Even so, I’ve never found Oh, God! to be that good of a movie and while it is harmless fun, it doesn’t offer enough laughs for me to make a strong recommendation. If you’re a fan of the movie or Burns however, this disc is more than worth a look, but rent before you purchase in this case.

As I stated above, this movie’s success was in no small part due to the warm, natural performance of George Burns. He was almost as old as time itself when he made Oh, God!, but his usual charm is intact and on full showcase here. The role is perhaps the grandest an actor could partake, but Burns plays it with a sense of vulnerability and while that sounds odd in this case, it works out quite well. He never seems to be lost within the role and even enhances those around him, so whenever he is on screen, the movie is that much better off. I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of Burn’s material once he started using his age as his main inspiration, but he seems in fine form here and is able to deliver on all counts. Other films with Burns include 18 Again, The Sunshine Boys, College Holiday, Going in Style, and Oh, God! Book II. The cast also includes John Denver (Higher Ground, Walking Thunder), Teri Garr (After Hours, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Donald Pleasance (Halloween, Phenomena).

Video: How does it look?

Oh, God! is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. It is nice to have this in an anamorphic widescreen presentation, but the materials have become worn over time and Warner has done no work to reverse that process. The opening credits are soaked in nicks and debris, but the image becomes cleaner once they end, though defects can still be seen throughout. I know this is a lower profile release and all, but I think some level of cleaning should have been enacted, even if just to a minor degree. The colors and contrast look solid, but between the print flaws and some softness, this picture has seen better days.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included mono track is dated and rough around the edges, but still provides an acceptable audio experience. I wouldn’t go much beyond acceptable however, as time has taken a toll on the materials and caused some serious flaws. The dialogue is often too low or muffled, so you’ll have to fiddle with the volume throughout, which is a real pain in the neck. Even beyond that, the audio just seems flat in most scenes and I heard some instances of hiss also, which help lessen the effectiveness of the track even more. So while it is stable and acceptable, it could use some work and fails to be as good as it should be. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary here features director Carl Reiner, star Teri Garr, writer Larry Gelbart, and producer Jerry Weintraub, which proves to be a most humorous session. You’ll hear countless stories from the set, personal memories, and even tales of working with Burns & Denver, who have both since passed on, of course. This disc also includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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