Obviously seeking a role where he can seriously emote and turn in the goofy stuff as well, Martin has backed a loser in this confused spin on Elmer Gantry. His Jonas Nightengale is a cynical charlatan, whose travelling gospel revue mixes showbiz pizazz and cracker-barrel sentiment to con gullible townsfolk out of their cash. Rustwater, Kansas, is the next Bible Belt burg on the hit-list, but Mr Ultra-cynical has to rethink his heartless cool when perky waitress Davidovich engages his romantic attentions, and her kid brother (Haas) starts to believe the showman-preacher can actually make him walk again. Pearce's uncertain entertainment builds a conscience-impaired comic creation from Martin's sham shaman, then asks us to give credence to his part in a sudden crop of bona fide 'miracles' - a dumb plot development as shamelessly manipulative as his earlier slick hick schtick. This is just nonsense, and the star, whose would-be spiritual patter looks like an over-extended sketch anyway, can't save it.
Cast and crew
Philip Seymour Hoffman