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Case Number 06340: Small Claims Court

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Oh God! You Devil

Warner Bros. // 1984 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 4th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle can believe in George Burns as the Almighty. He prefers to think of the devil as that pimply-faced bully who used to beat him up and steal his lunch money in sixth grade.

The Charge

That's funny, they both look like George Burns.

The Case

God (George Burns) is back by popular demand, but this time he's got company: the Devil (Burns, yet again)! In this second sequel to the popular film Oh, God!, the Lord finds himself having to save the soul of Billy Shelton (Ted Wass, TV's Blossom), an aspiring musician who inadvertently makes a deal with the Devil to become the world's most successful rock and roll singer. Unfortunately, this means Billy's new life is set in motion without his loving wife or their soon-to-be-born child. Billy enjoys the lifestyle of decadence for a while, but soon yearns not only for his previous life, but also ownership of his soul!

But the Devil doesn't want to let Billy out of his contract, prompting an intervention of holy proportions. Only one person—err, being—can save Billy from eternal damnation: the Lord our God. The battle for Billy's life and eternity will come down to one final poker game in Las Vegas between the Almighty and Big Red. Talk about Holy Rollers!

And so it comes full circle with Oh God! You Devil, the third film in the uplifting quasi-religious Oh God! trilogy. Was this movie really warranted? No, but it's cute and better than the lackluster second installment Oh God! Book II, and for that we can call it a miracle. George Burns returns one final time not only the deity to end all deities, but also his arch nemesis, the Devil. Who'dathunkit?

Watching Oh God! You Devil is the equivalent of eating cotton candy: light, fluffy, fairly insubstantial but a treat nonetheless. If God really visited earth, I'm not sure He'd be quite so whimsical and cuddly as George Burns (I'd like to think he'd give Michael Jackson a good hard slap and then straighten out this whole Iraq mess), but it's nice to think He may look and act like the late actor.

Oh God! You Devil was written by Andrew Bergman, who also penned the much funnier Blazing Saddles and the Peter Falk / Alan Arkin comedy The In-Laws. The biggest problem with Oh God! You Devil is that it's too light to be a satirical comedy, and too goofy to be theologically efficient. Much of the film is wasted on Ted Wass, an actor who is amiable enough, but not when we want to just watch George Burns playing God. Scenes where Wass plays his rock and roll to sold-out stadiums (looking like an older version of Rick Springfield) seem to linger forever, even going so far as to show us a montage of how much he's enjoying his rock lifestyle. One joke shows him in bed with a groupie, then turning over to find…yet another groupie! Har-har.

In the end, this is really George Burns's show. The movie brightens considerably when Burns finds himself playing himself in a game of poker at a Las Vegas casino, via photographic trickery. As God Burns is delightful; as the Devil, Burns shows that he can also be cunning and acidic. I especially enjoyed God and the Devil's quick-witted exchange after the poker game ended. It's a classic Burns moment where you can see his comedic timing honed to perfection.

While Oh God! You Devil and its predecessors are fairly innocuous entertainment, it does remind me of one thing: they don't make religious movies like they used to. While I felt that The Passion of the Christ was enlightening and Bruce Almighty was somewhat amusing, both films had either a bloody tone or potty humor to get their points across. There was a time when audiences didn't need to be shocked to get in touch with God on the big screen—they just needed George Burns in a funny hat waddling into a casino. Word has it that the original Oh God! is being remade with Ellen DeGeneres in the title role. A homosexual female as the Creator…let the controversy begin!

Oh God! You Devil is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner Bros. has done a decent, if not great, job of making sure this transfer is in very good shape. Certainly it looks better than Oh God! Book II, also being released on DVD at the same time. The colors and black levels are all in good shape, without any major bleeding or defects in the picture. There is a slight amount of artifacting in a few key scenes, though nothing that will hinder one's enjoyment of the film. Frankly stated, this is the best Oh God! You Devil has ever looked, or most likely ever will.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English. Much like Oh God! Book II, Oh God! You Devil sounds about as flat as a pancake. Considering this is a meagerly budgeted, cute comedy from the middle 1980s, it's not surprising to find this sound mix in only so-so shape. While there aren't any surround sounds to be found in this mix, overall the music, effects and dialogue are in good shape without any major hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Oh God! You Devil's only supplemental feature is a single theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 76

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Genre:
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb








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