134. Wholly Moses!

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Movie: Wholly Moses!

Release Date: June 13, 1980

Director: Gary Weis

Starring: Dudley Moore, Laraine Newman, James Coco, Paul Sand, Jack Gilford, Dom DeLuise, John Houseman, Madeline Kahn, David L. Lander, Richard Pryor, John Ritter.

Tag Lines: “What a cast!”

“Wholly Moses! What a cast!”

“He wanted to be Moses…but he didn’t have the right connections.”

“The story of Herschel. He wanted to be Moses…but he didn’t have the right connections.”

Relevance: There are a few films on my list of most influential movies of all time that could be deemed as not very good. For examples of such movies check out 318. Flash Gordon and 301.Two of a Kind. It doesn’t matter. I still love them and they obviously have affected my life in one way or another or they wouldn’t be a part of this project. ‘Wholly Moses!’ is another one of those films.

I can’t tell you the first time that I saw ‘Wholly Moses!,’ but it was sometime in the early 1980’s when it played on HBO. Like so many other films from the 1980’s, HBO seemed to play this movie constantly and I of course watched it every single time I could. It always made me laugh hysterically and I appreciated the silliness and ridiculousness of the story. I also remember it making my dad laugh to the point of tears. The two of us would belly laugh so loudly it would bring my mother into the living room only to say, “This stupid movie again.” That only made us laugh more.

Being raised strict Catholic probably enhanced some of the laughter involved when watching ‘Wholly Moses!’ Billed as a Biblical Spoof film, it was simply a mish-mash of Old Testament stories that I of course knew inside and out. With references to the burning bush, turning into a pillar of salt and the ten plagues, I was thoroughly entertained by the parodies of what I was learning in school. The movie gave me free reign to laugh at them, even though at the time I believed they were all real. (I have since grew brains.) The “mocking” of these stories didn’t seem to bother my father either. I am grateful I was raised in a house where humor and self-deprecation were seen as admirable traits.

‘Wholly Moses!’ was not well received by both critics and audiences as it barely made a blip in the box office. But boy, oh boy did it ever leave a mark on my father and me. No matter how many times we watched it, we laughed and laughed at the absurdity, the silly characters and the comic genius that was Dudley Moore. He was definitely a family favorite, especially early in that decade. He and the rest of the all star cast seemed to be having such a ridiculously fun time, it just filled me with pure joy. I can still hear my dad laughing at one of the lines “And he sat her upon her ass.” Bad movie? Sure. But oh so good.

Today’s Thoughts: I have not watched ‘Wholly Moses!” in a really, really long time. I was probably still Catholic when I saw it last. Despite my current lapse in faith, I was very eager to sit down and watch this really bad (or really great) movie again.

It is still one of the stupidest movies I have ever watched, and I mean that as a most sincere compliment. It is so, so funny and the all star cast is an absolute riot. Laraine Newman, James Coco, Paul Sand, Jack Gilford, Dom DeLuise, John Houseman, Madeline Kahn, David L. Lander, Richard Pryor and John Ritter are all glorious in their cameos and scenes. Dudley Moore was such a remarkable comedic actor and it was so entertaining watching him work with this ensemble. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long, long time.

I don’t expect everyone to like ‘Wholly Moses!’ Heck, I don’t expect everyone to remember it. For me though, it brings back such happy memories from my childhood, it is difficult to forget. If you are looking for a movie to simply make you laugh and you aren’t offended by the religious parodies, I highly recommend you sit upon your ass and watch it.

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.

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