A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Oh, God! is a comic fantasy in which the Almighty, disappointed with the way things are going, travels to Earth in the guise of a human to deliver his most important messages. He chooses a nonbeliever, an ordinary man to carry those precepts to the world. The teachings are "faith-based," not preaching any particular belief system, but hoping to inspire responsibility, compassion, and care for the earth and one another. The movie asserts only that there is one Creator (in this case, a whimsical and funny one) and that it's entirely up to the world's inhabitants to take advantage of everything he has put in place for them. Fine for kids and families who can accept this lighthearted approach to faith and who will appreciate the honesty and value of the ideas it presents. Profanity includes "hell," "crapshoot," "humping the checkout girls." There's some minor sexual content (skimpy nightgown, man getting out of shower naked from the waist up).
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What's the story?
What a shock to innocent Jerry Landers' (John Denver) sensibilities when he encounters the voice of someone who claims to be God coming through his car radio's speakers in OH, GOD! It isn't until "God" (George Burns) makes it rain inside the car that Jerry has to acknowledge that there may be some truth to what the voice has told him. And when God, with a no-frills business card, appears in the passenger seat (a little old man in a plaid shirt and a cap), Jerry is sufficiently astounded. It takes a while, but Jerry can deny the truth no longer. God explains himself: He's come to Jerry for a very big favor. He wants this very ordinary, but very good, young family man to spread his message throughout the world. Jerry's clueless: How's he supposed to do that? Who's going to believe him? With only a sprinkling of advice and a few small miracles, God will be Jerry's guide, helping him convince his incredulous wife, a disbelieving media, a coalition of religious experts, and just plain folks that he exists -- and, most importantly, all who need to appreciate that God gave them everything they'd ever need to make life work. It's simply up to them to see it through.
Is it any good?
This ultimate "what if?" movie is a small comic gem pitting 80-year-old George Burns, playing his version of God, against a world that seems to have forgotten its own simplicity. The film doesn't ask its audience to believe in a supreme being; it only wants to urge the audience to pretend for a moment that there is one. Of course, a few of the jokes and cultural references are dated since the film was made in 1977, but just as many are spot on for 21st-century tastes. It's uncanny how in 1977, the planet, at the hands of its human residents, was known to be an endangered species, and the idea is still controversial. Paul Sorvino's over-the-top parody of a mega-church pastor is particularly hilarious and will resonate as well. George Burns had a career spanning 75 years -- from vaudeville to radio to television and movies. Oh, God! is a wonderful introduction for new audiences to this unique entertainer. An original, warmhearted movie with wonderful messages for families.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that though this is a comedy, the messages are heartfelt and valuable. It was released in 1977; which of the ideals is still relevant? Do you agree with the notion "We've been given everything we need. Now it's up to us to make the world work"?
This movie has been described as "comedy," "fantasy," and "science fiction." Which of these genres fits best? How do the three work together to create something entirely original?
What is a parody? Which character in Oh, God! is a parody? What do the writing and the actor's performance tell you about the filmmakers' attitude toward this character?
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