Leap of Faith

1992

Leap of Faith

Critics Consensus

Steve Martin's layered performance transcends the somewhat undercooked narrative of Leap of Faith.

62%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 21

45%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,917
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Movie Info

Richard Pearce's comedy-drama stars Steve Martin as Jonas Nightengale, a con artist whose latest scheme has him posing as a traveling evangelist. When his caravan breaks down in a poor Southern town, he tries to make the best of the situation by exploiting the community for all its worth.

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Critic Reviews for Leap of Faith

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (8)

Audience Reviews for Leap of Faith

  • Jul 05, 2018
    I was gonna watch the Stepfather 3, but I honestly don't think I could have lived through another terrible slasher that devalues the good name of the original Stepfather. I may watch it tonight, though, not sure yet. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, let's move on, shall we? I've always been honest and upfront about my general dislike for organized religion. It's a business, just like any other. Not just that, but you could also say that I'm an unbeliever. Because I could practice a religion while still being against the idea of it being treated more like a business. But, and this is something I've mentioned several times in some reviews, I don't think I've ever believed in the existence of a higher being. I just don't. It has never made sense to me and I do not understand how it makes sense to the people who do believe. So, yes, I'm an atheist, but at the same time, I don't begrudge anyone who chooses to believe in a higher being. Life is hard enough and if religion offers you comfort during difficult times, and you don't use it to justify your own prejudices (as many people do), then who am I to deny you that comfort??? Televangelism, however, that's another breed of scum entirely. I really do happen to have the lowest of opinions for these people, who, the most successful of which, build a massive empire based on the donations of people who believe that the person they're giving their money to is an actual emissary of god. These televangelists take advantage of others that need real support, whether physical or emotional, to screw them out of their hard-earned money with the promises that the donations will help the televangelist in question solve the problems in your life. That's real scum at work. And that's not even getting into the ones that claim to be healers. This is the worst, because the people that go to these events are led to believe that they will be cured of their sickness. Instead of getting the help they actually need, they rely on a con man to help them get better. That's just sick. Cause someone might have cancer and their last resort, and this is how desperate they are, might be to go to one of these healers who, in the long run, won't be able to do anything to heal them of their disease and, yet, the televangelists take their money and feed them false hope. And let's not get into the trickery that goes involved in this. How the televangelist has a group of eyes and ears among the crowd, picking up on conversations that might be of use to the televangelist. I'll stop because, if not, I'll be here forever about how much I hate televangelists. The point is, however, that this world, as far as I can see, hasn't been explored as much as one would probably like. Now, to be fair, this movie is closer to the days of the scandals that plagued people like, say, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart found themselves in at the time. So who knows how many comedies came out parodying televangelists during this era, but I still don't feel that there's as many as there should be given the potential of some really great satirical comedy. And there's still potential with this to this day, since people like Joel Osteen, who's another insincere fuck. This guy uses religion to portray this good guy image when he's proven to be anything but when it comes to helping people in need in real life, when all the cameras are off. So, honestly, I'm a little disappointed that this seems to be the major movie tackling these fuckers. And, I'll be frank, this movie doesn't really use its concept as well as it probably should have. This is the very definition of a missed opportunity, because here they have this shot at this really edgy satire that parodies televangelists and, instead, they chose to make it a dramedy about Jonas' exploitation of this small town and their needs, the farmers need rain or else their crops will die and this is a major plot point in the movie, but Jonas also exploits their little issues for his own gains. He's buttering these people up to make them more susceptible to give him their money with the smoke and mirrors he's got set up as part of his ministry. But the movie doesn't choose to employ a darker narrative approach as, instead, it ends up being somewhat of a crowd-pleasing story about Jonas', eventual, search for redemption through his 'friendship' with Boyd, who's in crutches as a result of a car accident. I don't know, it just didn't really work for me. I only really watched this because of Steve Martin, because he's always good, no matter what. And he's very good here, for sure, but there's something about his performance that just didn't click. He was being way too Steve Martin-y during the ministry shows to come across as a legitimate televangelist. While he's great in these sections, I still felt I was watch Steve Martin parodying a televangelist. I wasn't as immersed in the character as I'd hoped I would be. Everything outside the ministry shows themselves is great, however, when you really see the type of person that Jonas is. A manipulative liar who takes advantage of people that really need help and, when faced with trying to help Boyd in the climax of the film, he freezes up, believing that Boyd and his sister, Marva, are better con artists than he was. But, of course, since this is a crowd-pleasing movie, Boyd being able to walk again after touching a crucifix is treated as a legit miracle. I don't believe in miracles, but say that we're going with that. It is what it is. What I don't like, however, is how Jonas, in spite of everything, is portrayed relatively positively. Because, apparently, changing at the end of the movie negates the damage that he has done to people with his bullshit throughout the years. The character of Jonas really should have been as detestable as humanly possible, there should have been no redeemable qualities and no redemption for his character. Because, in a way, and not that they're being explicit about this, they're sort of saying that what these people did is OK because if, in the end, they change for the better, then it doesn't matter how many people you hurt, manipulated and screwed out of their money. It's absurd to me. Regardless, there's some plot threads that I didn't really enjoy. As an example, everything with Jane becoming romantically involved with Will, the sheriff who tries to put a stop to Jonas' show, was a little forced. It just didn't feel like a natural romance. Plus, some of the best scenes in the movie involve Debra Winger and Steve Martin and how their characters play off of each other. Debra's character being involved in a romance takes away from that. I don't know, the comedy isn't consistent either. There's certainly some laughs here, but they are in no way memorable in any discernible way. This is a solidly cast movie so, in that regard, I can't complain about this whatsoever. But I felt that, as a whole, there's nothing about this that feels that inspired. The character is great and they do some solid stuff with that but, sadly, it gets bogged down in that atypical Hollywood comedy of giving a detestable character some sort of redemption. There's also some sentimentality that feels unnatural, this is during the scene where Boyd is able to walk again. Forced romance as well. I don't know, this feels like a major missed opportunity to me, which I believe I already mentioned. This isn't bad, not in the slightest, but should have been far more given the potential it had. I'd say it's actually a fairly decent movie that probably started as something darker and more satirical, but, sadly, ended up morphing into something a little more casual as its script was developed and that's a shame.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 18, 2011
    Predictable from the first minutes. The story's to blame here. Martin is good as a bogus preacher but is given nowhere to go.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 20, 2007
    One of Steve Martin's last interesting roles.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 01, 2007
    I like most Steve Martin movies. This one was fun enough with him as a faith healer stuck in a small town. I enjoyed it. There was comedy, drama and a bit of romance. A successful premise.
    Lafe F Super Reviewer

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