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Divorced lawyer turned fisherman-dropout Steve Myers (Billy Connolly) turns to the courts when his fishing boat-cum-home is destroyed by lightning – but it’s not the insurance company he sues, who blame the act on God, but God him/herself. Steve’s novel case is met with derision by his ex wife Jules (Wendy Hughes) and her new partner Les (Blair Venn), who actually guaranteed the loan for the boat. The churches aren’t going to take this lying down, and wheel in gun lawyer Gerry Ryan (Bille Brown). It also attracts the attention of the media. But at least here he has an ally – other than his dog and daughter Rebecca (Emily Browning) - in the shape of disgruntled journalist Anna Redmond (Judy Davis).

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Engaging, funny and genuinely entertaining, The Man Who Sued God has a strong case. I particularly appreciate the well observed (if underplayed) detail of the impact of media attention on a fairly average person, and how the magnifying effect can make unintended liars out of even the most respectable journalist, simply by the loss of context in the reporting. But the film’s real focus is its own comedic concept, juggled with a certain amount of philosophical roguery, which questions the notion of Acts of God as a defence against insurance claims.

For a deeper insight, play it again with the commentary, in which director, writer and composer combine in what is a clever and valuable teaming of the key creatives. The mixture gives the track some texture, as well as providing some good information, like how the opening music was created (not borrowed from the classics as some assume).

It also informs us that Arthur the dog is called Astro, but there is no comment as to why a red (ie cooked) lobster is seen trying to climb out of a bucket. Mark Joffe does explain, however, that Billy Conolly ate three lobsters during rehearsals.

Joffe also comments on the use of CGI, which is interesting to both audiences and filmmakers. The other significant piece of information may go into the trivia quiz books: real lightning struck the houses of writer Don Watson, producer Ben Gannon and the production’s helicopter pilot’s. Apparently all insurance claims were paid in full, though.

But if you are renting the disc and don’t have time for the full commentary as well as the film, the DVD boasts a comprehensive half hour doco on the making of the film, Discovery, which has ample B roll footage, scores of interview grabs with everyone (except the red lobster) and offers a concise insight into the film’s making. It manages to capture the sense of locations, too, and is presented with the DVD viewer in mind. (On my disc, there is a brief section in the middle of this doco with an odd colour haze – green, to be precise. You may want to check your before you buy.

Published May 23, 2002

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia


CAST: Billy Connolly, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, Wendy Hughes, John Howard, Bille Brown, Steve Jacobs, Blair Venn, Vincent Ball, Frank Whitten, Peter Whitford, Linal Haft

DIRECTOR: Mark Joffe

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes (feature only)

SPECIAL FEATURES: commentary by director Mark Joffe, composer David Bridie, screen writer Don Watson; documentary The Man Who Sued God ‘Discovery’.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 17, 2002

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