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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 10/15/1998,

Holy Man

The premise of a televangelist engaged to hock goods on a cable shopping channel would seem like a pretty good bet; add funny guy Eddie Murphy to the mix as the enlightened one and you ought to have a hilarious box-office smash. But Holy Man saddles its star with a leaden, melodramatic script that never allows the high jinks to get rolling at Murphy's hyperkinetic pace. He plays G, a mysterious spiritual pilgrim who's plucked from the streets of Miami -- after nearly being run down -- by Jeff Goldblum's shopping-network producer. Goldblum's career is hanging by a thread, but he figures G's angelic personality can save him; sure enough, G becomes an overnight sensation, while Goldblum learns his life lessons as he falls in love with Kelly Preston. It's all as insincere and perfunctory as the junk Goldblum's pushing. As for Murphy's G, one moment he's a nurturing mentor, the next he's a Forrest Gump-like simpleton. And when he fires up Morgan Fairchild's face with electrodes and goes berserk with a chainsaw, he toggles from saint to sadist and the film doesn't stand a chance in hell.

-- Tom Meek