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Don Verdean (2015)

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A self-professed biblical archaeologist who has fallen on hard times starts to bend the truth in order to continue inspiring the faithful.

Director:

Jared Hess

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Rockwell ... Don Verdean
Amy Ryan ... Carol Jensen
Will Forte ... Pastor Fontaine
Danny McBride ... Tony Lazarus
Jemaine Clement ... Boaz
Steve Park ... Poon-Yen (as Stephen Park)
Leslie Bibb ... Joylinda Lazarus
Sky Elobar ... Dr. Stanley
P.J. Boudousqué ... Gary (as P J Boudousque)
Yaniv Moyal ... Israeli Police Officer
Jared Shipley ... Lab Tech
Logan Rogan Logan Rogan ... Tourist
Michael Flynn ... Church Elder
Pete Rockwell ... Antique Store Owner
Harry Bonner Harry Bonner ... Security Guard
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Storyline

Hired by an ambitious small-town pastor to find sacred relics in the Holy Land, a self-proclaimed Biblical archaeologist comes up short and his attempt to cover up his failure fuels a comic conspiracy from the filmmaking team behind Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. DON VERDEAN stars Sam Rockwell, Amy Ryan, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Bibb, with Will Forte, and Danny McBride. Written by Lionsgate Premiere

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Taglines:

Fraud works in mysterious ways.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, some language and brief violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 December 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Don Verdean: O Que o Passado Nos Reserva See more »

Filming Locations:

Utah, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was shot in twenty-five days. See more »

Quotes

Boaz: So, Carol, I've been meaning to ask you since I met you what qualities are you looking for in a mate?
Carol Jensen: Oh, um...
[nervous chuckle]
Carol Jensen: I'm sorry, Boaz, I was under the impression you had some questions about Jesus of Nazareth.
Boaz: Oh, yeah. What is it that you like about that guy?
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Connections

Referenced in Half in the Bag: Box Office Number Crunching (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Tail of the Grail
Written, Produced & Performed by Heavy Young Heathens
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User Reviews

 
A compelling story can't make up for an artificial set up.
9 December 2015 | by RendanlovellSee all my reviews

'Don Verdean' is the newest film from Jared Hess. Director of 'Napoleon Dynamite', 'Nacho Libre', and the upcoming 'Masterminds'. Needless to say, Hess is a wonder child of offbeat comedies that really don't have anything to do with anything. So, when I sat down to watch this film, the story came as a pleasant surprise. 'Don Verdean' seems to be Hess's first foray into legitimate, cinematic storytelling. Unlike his older films that are made to feel like a home video (in a sense) Verdean actually employs some surprisingly good cinematography to help tell its story. It's no Roger Deakins but this film actually looks like some effort was put into shot composition.

We follow Don Verdean (Rockwell) as he sides with a local church to try and hunt down religious artifacts. Artifacts that they believe, if found, will drive people to their church. As Verdean finds artifact after artifact the church he is employed by grows restless for a BIG discovery. Goliath's skull big. Feeling the pressure, Rockwell takes matters into his own hands. A robbed grave later, Don Verdean makes the "discovery" of a life time and his life spirals down from there.

The film still has that unmistakable quirkiness that Hess has built himself on but 'Verdean' proves that he is making strides into making noteworthy films. Aside from the films relatively impressive look the film is definitely a Hess movie. Its got the same unique comedy and ill timed character moments that make his other films classics.

But 'Verdean' has something his other films didn't. An ensemble cast. With Rockwell as the title character, Clement as his companion, and Forte as the films villain this should've been a knock out. But, unfortunately it isn't. It still has the offbeat comedy that many have come to love from Hess but it sacrifices a lot of it in the name of a story line.

There are multiple moments in the film where we get a deadly serious scene that are devoid of humor. Obviously you have to know when to let off the comedy gas pedal but for the first half hour of the film we barely get a laugh or two. It takes to long to actually get into the meat of the story. A story that, in fact, is pretty hilarious and ripe with religious commentary. But it makes the mistake that many first timers do, it takes to dang long to get off and going.

And, like many movies that are set up like this, 'Verdean' ends in a very contrived way. The film is moving a great pace and suddenly it's over. The conclusion comes out of no where and threw me straight out of the film. Like its rocky beginning, 'Verdean' can't seem to figure out how to end in a natural way. It makes the mistake of pushing its characters one way instead letting their personalities take them in a realistic way.

Yet, its story is surprisingly compelling. Living in a state where a church is literally on every corner, I may connect with this film more than others. That being said, I think 'Don Verdean' raises very valid points about what we as human beings believe in and how we jump between what's the most popular at that time. It displays how we seem to be so invested in theatrics that we forget to even think about what is being said. Without spoilers, there is a scene involving a press conference that is particularly effective.

It's nothing that hasn't already been said. But 'Don Verdean' approaches it in such a unique, monotone way that it just works. It makes use (more or less) of its great cast and delivers some hilarious commentary on religion. Its unfortunate that the film sacrifices its best quality in order to artificially build this film. It may not be the Hess film that many expect but it's an impressive stride forward in storytelling for him.


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