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Wholly Moses! (1980)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy, History  |  13 June 1980 (USA)
4.1
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Ratings: 4.1/10 from 1,389 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 10 critic

Harvey and Zoey, two tourists travelling through Israel, discover an ancient scroll describing the life of Herschel, the man who was almost Moses. Herschel receives the command from God to ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Harvey Orchid / Herschel
...
Zoey / Zerelda
...
Hyssop
...
God's Angel
...
Tailor
...
...
The Archangel
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The Witch
...
The Beggar
...
...
Richard B. Shull ...
Tanya Boyd ...
Princess
William Watson ...
Bandit
...
Talent Coordinator
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Storyline

Harvey and Zoey, two tourists travelling through Israel, discover an ancient scroll describing the life of Herschel, the man who was almost Moses. Herschel receives the command from God to free his people from Egyptian slavery, but Moses keeps blundering by and taking all the credit. Several other biblical stories, such as Lot and his wife, David and Goliath, and the miracles of Jesus, are also parodied in this story of the life of a man trying to follow the path to God, but somehow always seeming to lose his way. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of Herschel. He wanted to be Moses...but he didn't have the right connections.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

13 June 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Book of Herschel  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of two biblical comedies from 1980 which were both made and first released about a year after the box-office success of Monty Python's 1979 Biblical spoof Life of Brian (1979). The two pictures, Wholly Moses! (1980) and In God We Tru$t (1980) were, unlike the Python film, commercial and critical failures. See more »

Quotes

Zoey: Hey everyone. My husband is going to do God now. He just met him. He's doing God.
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Connections

Featured in Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

 
So-so Biblical comedy.
11 August 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Just speaking personally, this viewer would agree with one other review here: the material in this star-packed parody is amusing if never terribly funny. Screenwriter Guy Thomas and director Gary Weis have their hearts in the right place, but too many of the jokes fell flat and the movie became somewhat boring as a result, which is compounded by the fact that it's slowly paced and goes on a little too long. Now, that's not to say that there aren't some great moments, because there are. They just happened to mostly occur in the second half, so there was a bit of a wait.

Dudley Moore and Laraine Newman star as Harvey and Zoey, two tourists taking in the sights of the Holy Land who go off on their own and explore a nearby cave, where they find an ancient scroll. Harvey is able to translate it, so he spends the balance of the movie relating it to Zoey: it's the story of Herschel (Moore again), son of a slave named Hyssop (James Coco), who has many travels and at one point becomes a brother in law to Moses! When God entrusts Moses with the mission of freeing the Jews in Egypt from bondage, Herschel spends most of the movie thinking the request was directed at him. He meets many characters on his journeys: an Angel of the Lord (Paul Sand), a tailor (Jack Gilford), Shadrach (Dom DeLuise), an Archangel (John Houseman), a witch (Madeline Kahn), a beggar (David L. Lander), a pharaoh (Richard Pryor), and the Devil (John Ritter).

It's the earnest efforts of this capable comedy cast that make "Wholly Moses!" worth sitting through. This viewer personally found the appearances by DeLuise, Houseman, Pryor, and Ritter particularly delicious. There are also some little gags worth noting, such as when a character is turned into a pillar of salt, and Hyssop scrapes some of the salt into his food. The scenery and widescreen photography are gorgeous, and the production design / art direction / set decoration team certainly do their jobs well; the movie has a good look. In addition to the famous faces (also including Andrea Martin as Zipporah), the cast features some top notch character actors: Richard B. Shull, William Watson, Sandy Ward, Brion James, and Michael Champion. Walker Edmiston, who'd provided the incredibly creepy vocalizations for the Zuni fetish doll in the final segment of 'Trilogy of Terror', does the voice of God.

With so much talent assembled here, it's too bad this couldn't have provided more laughs. It's watchable but is never as hilarious as one might wish.

Five out of 10.


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