They say biblical movies are coming back. This year we are due to receive Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus. Hey, The Bible is the number one best seller of all-time, after all! That’s the theory behind today’s film. It’s a mockumentary very much in the style of classics like This is Spinal Tap. This time, instead of looking at a troubled rock ‘n’ roll tour, we look at the troubled production of a biblical epic. It’s 1993’s And God Spoke (the Making of…).
The idea is that this is a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of a biblical film. But not just any biblical epic, this one dares to take on the entire Bible. It’s being made by producer Marvin Handelman (Stephen Rappaport) and director Clive Walton (Michael Riley). This is an ambitious project for anyone, but especially for two B-movie makers most famous for films with titles like Dial ‘S” for Sex and Naked Ninjas. With source material like this, however, they can’t lose!
We follow the production as they begin casting the film. Right away the visionaries learn this is going to be a rough ride. Casting reports that Brando is absolutely not a possibility for the role of God, but Anson Williams is available (Potsie!). When filming begins things don’t get any better. On the very first day of production a problem arises when it is learned that the actress cast as Eve has a tattoo of a snake running down her half her body. They manage to shoot around it, but the first batch of dailies don’t turn out well anyhow as the DP has a tendency toward using dark filters.
The filmmakers do manage to line up some interesting talent for some of the film’s big roles, though. Eve Plumb (Jan from the Brady Bunch) is lined up to play Mrs. Noah. The first murder in history is sure to be a big scene with Lou Ferrigno cast as Cain and Andy Dick (as an actor named “Dick Andrews”) playing Abel. Soupy Sales is even cast to play Moses.
Many more disasters come as the film moves forward. Almost immediately they are behind schedule, they end up four disciples short for the big walking on water sequence, and the massive ark built for the Noah scene won’t fit through the studio door. The money starts to run out and it becomes clear that it will take a miracle for the film to be completed.
One can’t help but compare And God Spoke to quintessential mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap. Improvisation clearly plays a role in this film, as it did in Spinal Tap. The stories of both films also take similar courses. The ark that is so big that it can’t fit through the studio door might as well be the model of Stonehenge that is so small that it almost gets crushed by a dwarf. Just like in Spinal Tap, our two central characters in this film are longtime friends who have a wedge driven between them as the film progresses, causing them to part ways. This is Spinal Tap was clearly an influence on this film, almost too much so.
Now then, having said that, And God Spoke is still very funny. The filmmakers are clearly having a lot of fun skewering the various quirks of the film industry. From the union drivers who’ll bite your head off if you so much as touch a vehicle without them around to the craft services guy who goes to great effort to create a biblically themed array of snacks. I’ve never been on a movie set myself, but I’d venture there’s an awful lot of truth in how this film portrays what goes on in a B-movie shoot.
And God Spoke (the Making of…) does rip off This is Spinal Tap in some pretty big ways, there’s no denying that. So while I can’t give it high marks for originality, on the comedy scale it a>more than succeeds. In other words: I saw it was good, said it was good, and it was good!