Blessed Art Thou

The mild charm of a comic fable about contempo Catholic monks is offset by the hokey approach taken in "Blessed Art Thou." Writer-director Tim Disney's first feature has some pertinent things to say about the ironic unlikelihood that church leaders would accept a miracle akin to those that contribute to the religion's central tenants. But pic feels more like sitcom than genuinely spiritual comedy, making TV/cable and video much more suitable venues than theatrical release.

The mild charm of a comic fable about contempo Catholic monks is offset by the hokey approach taken in “Blessed Art Thou.” Writer-director Tim Disney’s first feature has some pertinent things to say about the ironic unlikelihood that church leaders would accept a miracle akin to those that contribute to the religion’s central tenants. But pic feels more like sitcom than genuinely spiritual comedy, making TV/cable and video much more suitable venues than theatrical release.

Set at a bucolic monastery in rural California, tale pivots on the “miraculous” pregnancy of Brother Anselm (M.E. Hackett), who insists that “he” came by his condition after a visit from Gabriel. Reactions run the gamut from the sympathy/skepticism/hostility of the older monks to the support of the younger brothers. Central issue of the need to accept certain events on faith — and the inability of church elders to do so — creates a dialectic that’s engaging up to a point. But the film is too cutesy by half, playing out more like a burlesque of monastic life than as a credible tale with an extraordinary dimension. Lovely locations and lensing make for easy watching.

Blessed Art Thou

Production: A Yucca Street Prods. presentation. Produced by William Haney. Executive producer, Edward R. Pressman. Directed, written by Tim Disney, based on a story by Rachel Ingalls. Camera (FotoKem color), Claudio Rocha; editor, Nancy Richardson; music, Steven Taylor; production designer, John Lacovelli. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 26, 2000. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Bernard Hill, Paul Guilfoyle, Daniel von Bargen, Naveen Andrews, Joe Spano, M.E. Hackett, Michael Cudlizt, David Thornton, Brent Hinkley, Kenneth Tigar, Randy Oglesby, Lupe Ontiveros, Jorge Cervera Jr.

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