Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope John Paul II







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11 jan 2013

Film Review of "Leap of Faith" with Steve Martin (1992)

Edward Peters, Film Review of "Leap of Faith" (1992), in The Southern Cross (21 oct 1993) 36.

If you saved $ 7 by passing on "Leap of Faith" when it was released in 1992 thinking you would wait until it arrived in video stores, congratulations. Now, save $3 more and pass it up on the video shelf. This Hollywood version of religious consumer education is a shallow and cynical look at roadside revivalism. In fact, the film's first 20 minutes are so cynical they border on the oppressive.

After hoodwinking a Catholic cop, Steve Martin's quasi-Christian circus truck blows a gasket in Kansas, whereupon he and his band of suspects decide to ply their trade in a nearby little town while waiting for spare parts. Easy picking that town, right? Of course right.


Of all the characters we meet, only the town sheriff is developed with any care. He is, of course, the only local brave enough to finger Martin the con man. But notice Hollywood's implicit lesson: it takes a representative of the state to serve as a barrier between religious rip-off artists and the honest people of America.


The process of erecting a big top fills a few minutes of screen time; it's not much of an improvement over a similar scene in the cartoon classic "Dumbo." A Gospel choir performs acceptably, but they're no match for the James Brown number in "Blues Brothers." Martin tries a couple of frenetic Dances in the Spirit, but the "happy feet" are showing their age.


There is little to interest Catholics here: a couple of gratuitous digs at the Church (Martin warns his tent people that they'll never learn about sin from "pale­skinned virgin priests") and the mandatory bus load of nuns arriving to pay homage to Martin's winking Jesus statue. (Why doesn't our sheriff think to check the statue for fresh paint?)


A much-needed rainstorm finally drenches the parched cornfields, and naturally middle America assumes it to be Martin's miracle. Poor dumb middle America. At least Martin is a little disturbed when a crippled boy (sort of) starts to walk (sort of), but the best his conscience can come up with is to skip town in the middle of the night. In any event, that trick resolves the plot enough to let "Leap of Faith" (and this review) end.