Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trailer Park :: Divine Disasters and Biblical Blunders...

And the director said, "Let there be light."

And there was light, and it was good. 

Then, the director said, "Let there be sound."


And then the director said, "Let there be action."

And lo, things, very verily, went to
hell in the proverbial hand-basket.

Video courtesy of Lion'sGateVOD.

There never really was a movie called ...And God Spoke. But that didn't stop Arthur and Mark Borman from co-writing and directing this hilarious mockumentary on movie-makers whose aptitude and skills don't quite match up to their visions of grandeur. Tapping into the This is Spinal Tap vein, the brothers Borman mined a lot of comedy gold from this well-worn conceit, laying bare the consequences when a cinematic vision is compromised by a healthy dose of Murphy's Law, where anything and everything that could go wrong goes wrong while trying to bring that vision to the screen on time and on budget. And, therefore, how those dreams and visions are, inevitably, dashed, grounded-up and stomped into the asphalt. In this case, all that was missing was the raining fire and falling brimstone.

The film centers on the valiant but ultimately futile efforts of two aspiring filmmakers, director Clive Walton (Riley) and producer Marvin Handleman (Rappaport), whose only experience thus far were a string of B-Movie turd-burgers -- She-Beast, Nude Ninjas and Alpha-Deatha-De-Kappa. But now, somehow, these two have managed to get major studio backing for a proposed adaptation of the Bible. All of it. From "In the beginning..." to "Happily ever after" boasts Handleman. Do the math, he adds. That's a four billion strong target audience, and then multiply that number times $7 a ticket ... Cha-ching, baby. Then, with this ambitiously epic -- and obviously delusional, goal set, with dollar signs dancing in their heads, the production moves forward. And as the documentary cameras turn an unflinching eye on these self-absorbed cretins, we see that these aren't really bad people. Misguided, sure, but they obviously care, and have good intentions, but then get so absorbed in the minutia on one end and the entrenched artistic conception on the other that it's far too late to really salvage anything when everything in between begins to unravel -- before the cameras even roll.

First, the 2,000-page, Divinely-influenced script needs a little reworking. And a few pre-production snags scrap location filming in the Holy Land, so the familiar sights of Bronson Canyon will have to be substituted. Casting goes nowhere. They want Marlon Brando for Moses, but they get Soupy Sales. (The only other real name actor they get is Eve "Jan Brady" Plumb to play Noah's wife.) And the actress cast for Eve has a pretty face, but failed to mention her full length body tattoo. Adam, meanwhile, is portrayed by a method actor who is ... well, blessed, and refuses to put his clothes back on. As things continue to get out of hand, and the budget keeps on escalating, principal shooting commences -- and then immediately stops. Nothing works. The special-effects fizzle, as the burning bush refuses to ignite; and there's major set problems, like when the replica of Noah's Ark won't fit on the sound stage; and crippling cast acrimony causes more delays, with Abel (Andy Dick) refusing to do his scene with Cain (Lou Ferrigno) because he thought Abel was supposed to win the fight; and the scenes where Jesus walks on the water grinds to a halt because no one knows for sure how many disciples the man had.

Obviously, it's been awhile since Sunday School for everyone involved. And as these proportionately biblical snafus and catastrophes keep stacking up the production finds itself terminally behind schedule, meaning some drastic cuts will have to made. So, either Sodom or Gomorra are out, only three plagues for Egypt, and a few other things will have to be cut out completely, like the Psalms, Deuteronomy ... the New Testament.

Horrified by the dailies, the studio immediately withdraws its money, leaving Clive and Marvin to try and raise more capital to finish the picture themselves -- including product placement. That's why Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with The Ten Commandments in one hand and a six-pack of Coke in the other. Tensions rise as the crew resorts to commando filmmaking, shooting the Nativity at a local church display without permission or permit. And even though at this point they aren't even speaking to each other anymore, our filmmakers refuse to let the production die.

Cobbling what little usable footage they have together with a shit-load of stock footage -- that never comes even close to matching up -- the bickering duo do their best to shore things up, including an accordion powered soundtrack. (It's the only instrument either could play.) Upon it's release, ... And God Spoke initially bombs, but proves so endearingly inept that it becomes a cult hit akin to Rocky Horror and The Room, convincing our filmmakers to try it again with The Iliad.

God help us all. 

I always get a kick out of these behind the scenes comedies: Living in Oblivion, Hollywood Boulevard I and II, Waiting for Gufmann and it's progeny. Heck, even a classic like Singing in the Rain spends a good portion of itself showing a movie studio's disastrous attempt to switch from silent to sound films. And this truly is one helluva funny film. From the vapid actors, the surly Union reps, the lazy grips, and the theme specific caterers, to the F/X, wardrobe and prop departments, they all prove to be just as inept as the two guys in charge, providing a nice framework for a series of comical disasters that would have even pushed the patience of Job past critical mass.

And God Spoke (1993) :: Brookwood Entertainment / P: Mark Borman / D: Arthur Borman / W: Greg Malins, Michael Curtis / S: Michael Riley, Stephen Rappaport, Soupy Sales, Eve Plumb, Andy Dick, Lou Ferrigno


Tim Lehnerer said...

I love this movie SO MUCH. I didn't get to see it in the incredibly brief theatrical run, but snagged it on VHS as soon as I could. And it was good.

W.B. Kelso said...

Agreed. That accordion bilge-fueled closing credits for this thing is one of my all time favorite wrap ups in cinema history.

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