Walking with Herb
Awkward faith-based comedy has decent characters, messages.
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Walking with Herb
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Walking with Herb is a faith-based dramedy about a man (Edward James Olmos) who has lost his faith but then gets a message from God telling him to win a golf tournament. It has positive messages and admirable characters, but it's also clumsy and ultimately somewhat unsatisfying. While content is tame overall, it does address death and includes images of funerals, including an infant's. A man throws temper tantrums on a golf course; another takes out his rage on a punching bag. Thoughts of suicide are implied in one scene. There's passionate kissing, and language includes "fart," "wedgie," and "poop," as well as "Jesus" and "oh my God" as exclamations. Adults regularly drink wine with meals.
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What's the Story?
In WALKING WITH HERB, 65-year-old bank manager Joe Amable-Amo (Edward James Olmos) loses his faith in God after his son-in-law and granddaughter die in quick succession. Then Joe gets a message from God on his computer screen, asking him to spread a message of hope by winning the World Entire golf competition. If Joe wins, he can use the prize money to help save his daughter's struggling school for unhoused children. Joe receives instructions to start training with Herb (George Lopez), God's colorful personal messenger. When the competition arrives, Joe does miraculously well, but he must still face up-and-coming star Archie Borthwick (Billy Boyd).
Is It Any Good?
This head-scratcher of a faith-based dramedy is filled with kind, appealing characters -- it's hard not to love them -- but the movie is also extremely odd, with awkward rhythms and puzzling choices. The final screenplay by Oscar-nominated/Tony-winning writer Mark Medoff (Children of a Lesser God), Walking with Herb starts off poorly, opening on a loving family scene and then abruptly cutting to two funerals, the latter shockingly focused on a baby-sized casket. And then we're treated to strange, supposedly funny messages from God -- who's then never heard from again -- as well as a magical dachshund and pigeon, who "wink" with the help of CGI.
As the movie goes on, it's easy to start rooting for the characters, especially Amable-Amo, whose name, we're told in an extremely awkward line of dialogue, means "Kind-Love," and Herb, who manages to balance his spirituality with warm humor. Other positive forces include Oscar nominee Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13) as Joe's wife, Medoff's real-life daughter Jessica as Joe's daughter, and Christopher McDonald as Archie's caddy. But even as the movie earns our sympathy, it persists with its clumsy choices, including sports montages and two "comical" TV commentators during the golf tournament. Ultimately, it leaves off with a distinctly mixed feeling: part joy and part annoyance.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether you consider any parts of Walking with Herb violent. How did the two deaths at the beginning of the story make you feel? How do they tie in with the story?
Did you notice any positive diverse representations in the movie? What about stereotypes? Are characters role models?
If the movie's message is about each person trying to help others in some way, what can you do to make that happen in your own life?
What does it mean to lose faith?
- In theaters: April 30, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 27, 2021
- Cast: Edward James Olmos, George Lopez, Kathleen Quinlan
- Director: Ross Kagan Marks
- Studios: Optimism Entertainment, Rio Road Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mature thematic elements and brief language
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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