Wednesday, October 7, 2015

1980 Week: Oh, God! Book II

The sort of unimaginative and unnecessary follow-up that gives sequels a bad name, Oh, God! Book II reprises almost exactly the same storyline as its mildly amusing predecessor, Oh, God! (1977), but the second film fails to replicate the original picture’s novelty, purpose, or wit. Instead, Oh, God! Book II is pure cash-the-paycheck junk, with leading man George Burns phoning in a few scenes while pint-sized, single-named costar Louanne, playing a spunky little girl to whom God speaks, does all the hard work. In the first picture, God (Burns) appears to a supermarket employee played by John Denver because the Supreme Being worries that humans have lost touch with His principles. Denver’s character is ostracized as a lunatic until God presents Himself in a courtroom, performing miracles that exonerate His messenger. Exactly the same thing happens in Oh, God! Book II. Tracy (Louanne) is the daughter of divorced parents Don (David Birney), an advertising executive, and Paula (Suzanne Pleshette). One day, God appears to Tracy and asks her to write a slogan reminding humanity about the Holy Word. Yes, that’s the plot: God wants an ad campaign. Together with her Asian-American neighbor, Shingo (John Louie), Tracy comes up with the slogan “Think God,” which she and her young friends plaster around Los Angeles. As with Denver’s character in the first picture, Tracy is considered mentally ill until God shows up to do his shtick. Directed by Gilbert Cates with detached professionalism and lacking any standout humor—Burns delivers a few wheezy one-liners, and the comedic “highlight” is a boring, FX-laden scene of God driving a motorcycle while Tracy rides in a sidecar—this movie has no discernible reason for existence except for wringing a few extra dollars from people who enjoyed the first movie. Unwilling to leave well enough alone, Warner Bros. went to the well a final time with the awful Oh, God! You Devil (1984), featuring Burns in dual roles the nature of which should be clear from the title.

Oh, God! Book II: LAME

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