April 29, 2011

Godspell (1973)

The programming over Easter weekend featured the old standbys, like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments (never mind that Passover is a Jewish holiday), but some unusual options appeared as well. Apparently Die Hard is now an Easter movie. Perhaps the logic went as thus:

Die Hard is a Christmas movie.
Easter is a holiday, like Christmas. 
Therefore, Die Hard is also an Easter movie. 

The damn egg hunts get harder every year.

TCM, for its part, decided to feature Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell during the primetime slots on the night of Easter Sunday. Clearly someone has a sense of humor at TCM—though I will say that both movies make more theological sense as Easter selections than The Ten Commandments. Just barely. I had wanted to see Godspell for years after reading about it in the Golden Turkey Awards. When I saw it…well, read on.

Plot Summary

Jesus Christ (Victor Garber) prances about NYC in an afro and seriously creepy makeup with his “apostles.” 

In repertory theater style, Christ and the apostles act out various stories from the Gospel of Matthew, including the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, and others, which I can’t remember now despite nine years in a Catholic school...

Nutrition Facts

Vitamin B-Acting: 100%

The entire movie comes off as a very bad repertory theater production. The ham jumps off the charts—overexaggerated expressions and gestures, stilted delivery, even rolling eyes. It gave me flashbacks of the touring theater groups that would sometimes visit my school. We had to sit through idiotic plays that shoved morals down our throats. The acting level in the movie was exactly the same as in those horrible plays.
Vitamin B-SFX: 80%

The SFX is almost nonexistent, but surely the giant mass of evil trash bags and recycled goods that served as the Pharisee qualifies for a high rating.

Vitamin Fun: 75%

The movie has so many ridiculous, laugh-out-loud moments. The hideous clothing! Victor Garber’s afro! The Holy Macrame Bra of Damascus! (Antioch already has the Holy Hand Grenade.) The unhindered expression of ART and LOVE and PEACE—with rainbows prominently featured! 

While watching, I got the feeling that my dear departed grandmother might have disapproved of this movie’s ‘60s sensibilities. She probably would have made my father and his siblings watch The Ten Commandments instead…again. Or Ben-Hur, or The Sound of Music.

But I digress. The numerous boring stretches and repetitive lyrics brought down the fun rating. After the actors sang “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” for the 15th time in a row (really), I was ready for them to move on. Most of the songs kill at least five minutes of movie time just by repeating the same lines ad nauseam.

Then there’s the whole repertory theater feel. The movie often seems to think its audience consists of children, and frankly, this movie would be an insult to the intelligence of children.

Sugar: 80%

The treacly, feel-good kind. You’re more likely to die from laughing than from choking on the sugar, though.

Plot Fiber: N/A

I’m not going to argue with the Bible. But I will say this: if Jesus Christ had looked like Victor Garber in this movie, Christianity would not have survived.

Yes, that is a heart on his forehead.

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