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Laramie Movie Scope:
Leap of Faith

A confused religious comedy

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 25, 1993 -- The latest Steve Martin movie might signal a subtle move toward more serious roles for the talented former stand up comic.

As the brassy revival preacher stuck in a dusty town down on its luck, Martin is more serious than silly in this movie that can't make up its mind to be cynical, funny or religious. It ends up being all three.

Martin, abandoned as a child, seems determined to get revenge upon humanity by bilking everyone for all he can get. When a miracle of faith finally happens he seems to be redeemed, but it isn't convincing.

Debra Winger puts in a solid performance as Martin's ``front man,'' but Liam Neeson and his Irish accent seem terribly out of place as a rural American sheriff. Lolita Davidovich almost disappears into the background as a waitress while Lukas Haas does a good job in the thankless role as a crippled boy. This film is a real mixed bag. The best scenes are those in the revival tent with Martin doing his preacher schtick, while the audience of rubes is taken in by electronic magic tricks. The revival music is top-notch.

The romance between Winger and Neeson doesn't really work, but the relationship between Winger and Martin is much more convincing. They act like they've been together too long and need something new in their lives.

Steve Martin fans should like this film because it does showcase Martin's talents pretty well. The problem is, director Richard Pearce and writer Janus Cercone try to make fun of revival preachers while staying serious about religion and that is a recipe that doesn't quite cut the mustard. There is some redemption in the way the movie ends and that ending is a real surprise.

This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)