Home shopping TV producer Ricky (Goldblum)'s head will soon roll unless he can inflate sales. He and savvy media analyst Kate (Preston) spot G (Murphy) wandering the motorway. G is taken ill, and they take pity, inviting him to stay with them until fully recovered. Then the hit on the wacky idea of putting G on camera in the hope that his quirky spiritualism will sell product.
Suburbia has long taken stick for its fat and plastic, so to speak, and it will have to endure a touch more thanks to Holy Man, Eddie Murphy's latest vehicle. In this spoof of religious commercialism run rampant Murphy plays G, a spiritual guru (well, he sports a flowing white gown, after all) enlisted to join the morally vacant world of a home-shopping cable network and persuade the watching audience to dial up and order electronic wrinkle eliminators and all manner of other bizarre items.
By turns wry and sarcastic, the film does a good job ridiculing the home shopping phenomenon in general and the audience that supports it, but lets itself down with occasional lapses into lame slapstick, dubious plot twists and the kind of soap opera-isms it elsewhere decries. Murphy plays with characteristic aplomb, and shines in the role of G which provides him with an archetypal role - no one else does this exaggerated-innocence-and-humour shtick quite as well.
But the script has many glaring flaws, chiefly, that it never explains why G's inspirational speeches about steering clear of materialism and useless products actually sell the things in question. It would have given the movie a much needed subversive kick (and a tad more intelligence) if the it could have made sense of that -instead of rushing past the issue, in true salesman style, hoping you won't ask any difficult questions.
While Preston is used mainly as scenery, only serving as a mirror of sorts for Ricky, reminding him of who he is, at least Goldblum's very human portrayal of existential decline wins Holy Man some unexpected acting points.
While not exactly Death Of A Salesman on cable, Holy Man is at least infused with enough personal drama to be occasionally heartfelt and moving.