Reviewed by: Dale Mason
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Laurie Metcalf, Tim Conway, Maria Pitillo | Director: Garry Marshall
Surprise! The title of this comedy (“Dear God”) is an earnest plea, not a profane exclamation. To my delight, this film was an enjoyable, generally positive experience.
Though it doesn’t quite hit on all cylinders in terms of its comedic elements, its sputters are soft enough that even a critic such as myself found little to scorn in this film …provided that the age guidelines are heeded.
In his first starring role ever, and only his second feature film, former late night television talk host Greg Kinnear plays the part of a down on his luck con man who is “sentenced” by a very pragmatic judge to 1 year of work—the real kind of work where a person actually earns a paycheck. He ends up in the “Dead Letter” department of the Los Angeles Post Office; a boring, out of the way place where nothing changes and everyone is more than a little strange.
Kinnear’s unintentional act of kindness to one “Dear God” letter writer enlivens his co-workers, who eventually enlist and assist Kinnear in numerous additional acts because, “God can always use a little help.” The employees' letter-reading is illegal, however, and eventually results in a courtroom scene (reminiscent of the climax in “Miracle on 34th Street”) where Kinnear must defend his actions against the big bad postal service.
“Dear God” is a feel-good comedy. Though it includes some confusing messages about God, the clergy is depicted as sincere overall. It shows “conning” as wrong while encouraging brotherly kindness and good deeds. I guess the aspect that I appreciated most about this film was its soft reminder that many, many people still turn to God, especially in times of crisis. And it is nice to see ordinary, working class people who are anxious to help others in need.
No sex or inferred sexual situations, but the film does include a sprinkling of profanity and provocatively clothed women (especially a downright funny series of scenes which include a young female reporter in a rather tight dress).