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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director Mark Joffe, writer Don Watson & composer David Bridie
  • Production notes
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Documentaries

The Man Who Sued God

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 98 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The somewhat dishevelled Steve Myers (Billy Connolly) is having a rather shite day. It’s not enough that lightning struck his home, a fishing boat, and turned it into kindling, but one piece of the detritus also managed to pierce his foot. “Farg!” indeed. Still, as inconveniencing as this indeed is, he’s comprehensively insured, so all will be fine once the insurance company pays up, right?

Well, no, actually. They have deemed the mishap an ‘Act of God’ and are refusing to pay. It’s bad enough that he’s homeless, but as his boat was the equity in a loan on a caravan park for his former wife and her new boyfriend, things are altogether somewhat more complex. So what’s an ex-lawyer with pretty much nothing to lose got left up his sleeve? Well, as Madonna may very well sing nowadays, “we’re living in a litigious world”, so if it was God’s fault then hey – why not sue him then?

Spurred on in his quest for justice by a rather jaded journalist in the form of Anna Redmond (Judy Davis), who he meets early on under unfortunately klutzy circumstances, news soon spreads of his crusade and the press start circling him like buzzards. As coverage grows and the realisations that this seemingly crazed Scotsman is actually rather lucid and if he wins his case the church will be facing somewhat profound consequences (not to mention mucho big numbers in the dollars department) dawn on the church, a settlement offer is made. Ah, but it’s all become bigger than that now and the pressure to continue his crusade, to help others who have been shafted by the evil insurance companies, is on. After all, if it is indeed his fault then the ‘almighty one’ is contravening the Trade Practices Act!

"The churches can only win the case if they prove God does NOT exist..."

In case you didn’t know, this is an Australian film. There are a few ways to be assured of this. Firstly, it’s obviously set in Sydney – for two reasons, Anna’s flat conveniently happens to feature a view of the Centrepoint Tower from the balcony – mind you, at least we don’t spy the Opera House or that giant coat hanger-like bridge thingy at all – and also because the credits say it was shot there (and also in the coastal town of Bermagui!) The second major giveaway is due to the cavalcade of familiar faces in most every role. As well as such noted actors as Colin Friels, Wendy Hughes, Bille Brown and John Howard (no, not the weasel-like one in serious need of an eyebrow wax), even former Prisoner inmates and Cop Shop cast get their heads on, and when the canine playing Steve’s dog is actually uncannily familiar, well...

Not that being an Australian film is a bad thing, in fact far from it. Often local creations tend to have a unique perspective on things that you simply won’t find in movies from other lands. Indeed, infused with a similar basic premise to the filmic jewel that is The Castle, that of the little guy battling the ginormo-humongo-super-big corporate entity, The Man Who Sued God starts with an incredible amount of promise. Billy Connolly does what he does best – an often uproarious combination of physical and verbal comedy, with liberal sprinklings of the ‘f’ word (surely he’s the only person with such a potty mouth that the grannies still adore?) As such the first half an hour is quite the riot at times, and has you thinking that it all bodes well for the remaining hour or thereabouts.

Unfortunately it all takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque, however, and what started so freshly gets caught up in a mire of cringe-worthy contrivance (Agh! The shooting star, the cocky (which you can play spot the string on, by the way) etc...), sheer schmaltz and an inevitably predictable, yet strangely sticky-taped on, romantic sub plot to help the movie earn the ‘romantic comedy’ tag it so proudly seems to wish to wear.

  Video
Contract

For such a recent film, the anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 image we’re given here is, as you would expect, pretty good. However, there are still some issues with it. The main culprit is aliasing, which happens with alarming regularity and there is even one instance where a white wall basically comes alive in a kaleidoscopic pattern (some would call it ‘moire’) which is rather distracting, as it looks somewhat akin to a portal to another world from some sci-fi schlockfest.

There can be a little grain at times; however this is generally on stock footage that was sourced featuring time lapse photography of clouds and the like. Overall things tend to be a little on the soft side, so whilst black levels are generally good, detail of both the general and shadow varieties tends to be a little lacking. Colour is fine, and unless this DVD features the world’s best ever placement of a layer change there isn’t one within the film – and this is a dual layered disc.

  Audio
Contract

The film comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and whereas the visual side of things may be a little on the disappointing side, no such complaints could be levelled at the audio. Dialogue is as clear as Billy Connolly’s thick accent allows it to be and things are all synched well. Many comedies tend to leave the surrounds and subwoofwoof as afterthoughts, or don’t even think about them at all it would seem, however The Man Who Sued God makes great use of both. The room comes alive in the film’s various loud bits (you have to love storms in 5.1!), and the rears are also used effectively to beef up many other scenes.

The rather versatile Mr David Bridie (Not Drowning Waving, My Friend the Chocolate Cake etc) provides a simply wonderful score, which manages to both suit proceedings admirably and give fans of his work another instalment of his enviable talents. As well as the incidental stuff there is a simply gorgeous aria (big praise from somebody who finds ‘that note’ from Nessun Dorma about the only palatable operatic moment she’s ever heard) that opens up proceedings, and rather than it being another piece of ‘found’ audio, Mr Bridie was actually responsible for it.

  Extras
Contract

The audio-enhanced menus exhibit some slight animation in the form of rolling clouds, and brief stormy transitions lead on to each menu choice. Delving into the extras we are confronted with...

Documentary - The Man Who Sued God – “Discovery”: At just under half an hour, this full frame doco manages to be relatively meaty and entertaining. It will probably come as no surprise to discover that it features the usual array of interviews with cast and crew inter-cut with scenes from the movie and on-location stuff, however it manages to do the typical job of an EPK-type affair without turning into a mushy love-in.

Trailers: Two are on offer, the teaser (one minute, 18 seconds, 2.35:1 non-enhanced) which gives little in the way of any clue as to what the film is actually about and the release version (two minutes, 24 seconds, also non-enhanced), which gives a better overview of what’s in store. Both look reasonable without being great and mostly allow the film to speak for itself, with a brief and decidedly posh Australian voiceover popping up towards the end of each.

Gallery: Simply seven promotional stills. Next...

Production notes: Almost exhaustive (or exhausting!) notes covering development of the screenplay, casting and making the film. How exhaustive? Try 26 pages exhaustive – a nice change from those one page affairs that are so often uselessly tacked onto discs. One quote within did catch the eye, “It was a chance to write a film in which people can be intelligent and literate”. That must be why Billy gets to drop the ‘f’ word so regularly I guess...

Commentary – director Mark Joffe, writer Don Watson and composer David Bridie: Commentaries come and go, some good, some bad, some simply forgettable. This one takes a very nice tack by involving representatives of three rather distinct phases of the film’s development, and ends up providing us with much interesting insight we may not have been privy to had Joffe simply helmed it himself.

  Overall  
Contract

Whilst it does tend to descend into a steady nosedive from about the half an hour mark, The Man Who Sued God is by no means a dud, it could just be argued that it fails to deliver on its initial promise. Still, with Billy Connolly almost constantly on screen throughout the film’s entirety it was never in danger of not having many an enjoyable moment, and those in search of a harmless comedy that delivers a few hearty laughs and a touch of satire, not to mention a chance to blow a few raspberries the way of corporate institutions who only care about their bottom lines, should find quite a bit here to enjoy on what is a fairly well presented disc with some interesting extra features.

One thing is still bugging me though, just where do I know that dog from?


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1475
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      And I quote...
    "Whilst not as sharp as you may expect, those in search of a harmless comedy that blows a few raspberries the way of corporate institutions who only care about their bottom lines should find quite a bit here to enjoy..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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