Comedy "Salvation Boulevard" Spends So Much Time Preaching That it Forgets to be Funny Review

Religious hypocrisy and zealotry both make for easy targets in comedy, and Director George Ratliff makes quick work of it all in Salvation Boulevard, his takedown piece on super church ministers which benefits immensely from a characteristically slimy performance by Pierce Brosnan in the role. While I sympathize with his clear loathing for the increasingly common occurrence of overly powerful religious personalities and the impressionable sheep that flock to them, his narrow focus on that agenda blinded him from ever throwing anything genuinely funny into his supposed comedy. While we might smirk at Jennifer Connelly’s unthinking devotion to the corrupt minister, Greg Kinnear’s typically flustered characterization of a man in over his head, or Marisa Tomei as a Grateful Dead acolyte, rarely do any of these things elicit anything more than that.

In the conversational aftermath of a debate between Minister Dan Day (Brosnan) and outspoken secularist Peter Blaylock (Ed Harris), the latter winds up with a bullet in his frontal lobe after the former absentmindedly waves around an antique pistol, not realizing it’s loaded. Fearing what impact news of him shooting his intellectual rival might have on his congregation and pending construction of a faith-focused gated community, Day tries to pass it off as a suicide and then does his best to make it seem like Carl Vaderveer (Kinnear), a recovered drug addict and member of his congregation, was the only other person present at Mr. Blaylock’s accidental offing. No matter what Carl says to clear his name, everyone around him blindly trusts Day, even Carl’s wife (Connelly). Just when all hope seems lost, Carl is abducted by a mysterious figure who has clear proof Carl is innocent, but won’t use it unless it suits his own needs.

While the ridiculous nature of Carl’s plight and the absurd faith in Dan Day by his congregation (with Jim Gaffigan among them) is entirely clear to the audience, it never rises to the level of comedy save for a few instances where it really goes over the top courtesy of Jennifer Connelly. It’s a nice premise from which to stage an assault of the lack of critical thinking promoted by institutions where figureheads become more important than their causes, but it gets so caught up in being right and trying to be clever that it forgets to actually be funny. It’s an easy enough film to sit through, but it can never really be called enjoyable as much as ironically preachy.

DVD Bonus Features

There are none.

"Salvation Boulevard" is on sale September 18, 2012 and is rated R. Comedy, Drama. Directed by George Ratliff. Written by Douglas Stone, George Ratliff. Starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marisa Tomei, Pierce Brosnan.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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