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  • by David C. Terr

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    oh god movie posterTitle: Oh, God!

    Director: Carl Reiner

    Starring: Georger Burns, John Denver, Teri Garr, Donald Pleasence

    Release Date: Oct. 7, 1977

    Running Time: 98 min

    Genres: Comedy, Fantasy

     

    Commentary
    Oh, God! is a very funny and entertaining film, starring George Burns as God and John Denver as Jerry Landers, an assistant supermarket manager who is visited by God in the form of an elderly man and becomes a modern day Moses, enlightening the world on His existence. Besides its humor, I find Oh, God! to be rather enlightening in a funny way.

    Plot Summary
    Jerry Landers (Denver) is an assistant supermarket manager and rather ordinary man who ends up being visited by God (Burns), who makes Himself known to Jerry gradually, first as the voice from a speaker in a large office suite, then on his radio, and finally appears to him in the form of an old man in his bathroom. At first Jerry is skeptical, believing the strange occurrences to be a prank played by one of his friends, but eventually he comes around to believing in Him.

    God tells Jerry the purpose of His visit, to have Jerry spread the word to the world that He exists and cares for humanity. Jerry then has the difficult task of proving His existence, first to his family and then to the general public. God supports him every step of the way, visiting him several times, even performing the miracle of making it rain inside Jerry's car. Jerry ends up writing a newspaper column and appearing on Dinah Shore, but most people, including his family, think he's nuts. His boss threatens to fire him unless he renounces his story, but he doesn't give up.

    Eventually a group of powerful theologans, including Reverend Willie Williams, a former football player turned evangelist (God's quarterback), confront him. They make him take a theological exam in Aramaic which God helps him with, but God tells him to denounce Reverend Williams as the fraud he is. Once Jerry does so publicly in front of a huge congregation, the reverend punches him out and Jerry ends up on trial for slander. Finally God comes through, appearing in court and proving His existence to everyone in the courtroom. Jerry still ends up getting fired, but in a final visit, God tells Jerry he did good.

    Social Relevance
    Although this movie is a lighthearted comedy, I find it has a rather powerful message. Jerry is an ordinary man, no Moses, and not even religious, at least in the traditional sense. God tells Jerry that He chose a form that he would understand (appearing as an old man), but He could've chosen any form He wanted. Jerry ends up arguing in court that if God created man in His image, then He should be able to appear to humanity as one of us, which He does. When Jerry complains to God in his last visit that eveyone think's he's a nut, God compares him to Galileo, Pasteur and Einstein and says he's in good company!

     


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