I wanted to have my own heart-to-heart with the Lord after watching"Conversations With God," a biopic-infomercial that opens today aboutNeale Donald Walsch's rise from homelessness to bestselling New Ageauthor.
I'd ask tough questions just like Walsch (played in two dimensions byHenry Czerny) did when he was homeless in Oregon.
With his life at rock bottom, he claimed God started to speak to him.Walsch said he wrote down the Lord's loving and nonjudgmental answers onstacks of yellow legal pads _ apparently less cumbersome than stonetablets. And those transcriptions became the "Conversations With God"book series that has sold a reported 7 million copies in 34 languagesworldwide.
OK, Lord, now it's time for the questions I jotted down while watching"Conversations."
For starters, since when do you talk like Dr. Phil? Some of your linesof dialogue include: "You are your own rule maker." "If you want tocreate abundance for yourself, create it for someone else." And "torestrict you would be to deny the reality of who you really are." Seemsto me that God can do better than Hallmark _ or Tony Robbins. What's upwith that?
Another thing: Why didn't the filmmakers stick to Walsch's compellingspiritual rags-to-riches story (the bearded author who once ate out oftrash bins promotes himself as an "accidental spiritual messenger")instead of turning it into a feature-length infomercial?
As when his hard-bitten publisher looks him in the eye and says, "Youmay think I'm old-fashioned, but I think your book can change theworld." Then there are the scenes where strangers lavish praise onWalsch, telling him that his book did change their world. The only thingmissing is an 800 number across the bottom of the screen.
And what's with turning Walsch into a caricature of a modern-day saintwhile only his supporting actors are left to show any flashes ofhumanity? Even in small roles, Jerry McGill as the homeless camp'swheelchair-riding landlord and Zillah Glory as a worker Walsch meets onthe bus are memorable _ and human. But for someone with endless patienceand bottomless generosity, the Walsch character comes across as oddlyirritating.
Just a couple more questions, Lord. When are the majority of movies withovertly spiritual themes going to rise to industry standards?"Conversations" has all the telltale signs of a religious film that keepyour basic moviegoer away: stilted dialogue, overwrought music, thesubtlety of a daytime soap.
In the wake of successes such as "The Passion of the Christ" and "TheChronicles of Narnia," aren't you afraid that too many films like"Conversations" will send your flock running in the direction of "SawIII"?
Oh, there's one more thing I've always wanted to know: Why is it thatHollywood can realistically craft entirely new worlds, but it can't makea realistic fake beard?
I'll be waiting for your answers, God, legal pad in hand.
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