Starring: Steve Martin, Debra Winger, Liam Neeson, Lolita Davidovich, Lukas Haas, Meat Loaf, Philip Seymour Hoffman, MC Gainey, LaChanze
Directed By: Richard Pearce
Well, obviously you can see the ending coming a mile away. But that’s not always the point, is it? Sometimes, it’s about the journey. And this journey is solid. Yes, I’m reviewing a movie from 1992. It’s a movie that shows a whole lot of promise for what Steve Martin is able to do as a dramatic actor, long before anyone really took him seriously as a dramatic actor. Here, he plays Jonas Nightingale, a fake faith healer who travels from town to town and swindles simple folk out of their money. That is, until he breaks down in this town and finds himself oddly matched with the town sheriff (Neeson), and people who actually need his help. No rain. Dried up crops. These people need a real miracle. Can Jonas provide?
If you’re a fan of Steve Martin, you’ll love this. It’s almost his Groundhog Day. It’s not on the same level as Groundhog Day, of course, but it almost does for him what Groundhog Day did for Bill Murray. It’s just a little too obvious. Every moment is so well placed. There are no surprises. As entertaining as he makes the entire film, the paint-by-numbers story does nothing for him. It is a movie a lot of people could learn from, about how easy it is to put on a show and swindle money from simple minded folk, but that’s not the real reason this film exists. It’s not a full blown comedy, so you can’t expect to roll down the aisles. Since Dramedy isn’t a real thing, I’d feel more comfortable calling it a drama before I call it a comedy. These people have real issues and Jonas encounters them early on, weighing down the movie. Sure, it’s a drama in good humor, but it’s a drama.
Supporting Martin is Debra Winger as his main accomplice, and she’s great too. For some reason, we let her go as a talent. I’m not sure why we let Debra Winger slip from the public eye. She’s great, and goes toe-to-toe with heavy hitters Martin and Neeson. She should still have a major career today. We’ve failed her.
I enjoyed Leap Of Faith despite the obviousness of the story, and you will too.
FINAL GRADE: B+