Discovered in a desert cave is an ancient document which casts new light on an old story. The infant Moses, as the story goes, was dispatched down the Nile and rescued by the Pharaoh's daughter. But on the same morning, another child - Herschel - was also set afloat. Herschel just happened to sail past the Princess with a helpful nudge from Moses. So the question is, who was truly God's Chosen? Moses or Herschel? Dudley Moore stars as the adult Herschel trying to find his place in the scheme of things. Also starring are Laraine Newman as Herschel's lusty bride, James Coco as his father, and Richard Pryor as the wildly idiosyncratic Pharaoh.
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Wholly Moses! is a clever, 1980 Biblical farce that has much in common with Monty Python's Life of Brian. Dudley Moore, between star-making performances in 10 and Arthur, plays Old Testament-era idol maker Herschel, whose life parallels that of the more famous Moses in many ways. Forced into the role of seer for Egypt's pharaoh, Herschel becomes convinced he has divine powers, until destiny proves otherwise and his subsequent misadventures as a slave, fake eunuch, and betrayed husband (Laraine Newman plays Herschel's unfaithful spouse) lead him to question the necessity of believing in any god at all. Wholly Moses! is directed by Gary Weis, perhaps still best known for his short works on the early Saturday Night Live, and the film plays like a succession of sketchy ideas. It does have powerful and inspired moments, however, including Herschel's dialogue with the devil (John Ritter) and the sight of James Coco sweeping small frogs. --Tom Keogh
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