A filmmaker toured the world, asking people: "What is God?"
Defining the nature of God turns out to be harder than Peter Rodger thought. Outfitted with "a camera and a hat," the British commercial photographer gathered footage for more than 2 1/2 years. He visited the United States, Tibet, Australia, Israel, Bali, several African nations, Japan and Vatican City. He interviewed, among others, schoolchildren, a gun store owner, monks, priests, imams, rabbis, cancer kids, Ringo Starr, Hugh Jackman and Las Vegas illusionist David Copperfield.
He came back with a mashup of slick tourist photos, a cacophony of contradictory sound bites yielding zero insight. Watching this disorganized essay on organized religion may actually make you stupider.
The film opens with an interminable montage of sunlight-pierced clouds, scenic vistas, photogenic Third World faces and capitals of the world's faiths. Other than inspiring awe for Rodger's travel budget, this fractured curtain-raiser goes nowhere and signifies nothing. It's a fitting prologue for what follows.
Spokesmen for various creeds and skeptics offer their dogmas in Twitter-worthy snippets. Rodger doesn't question any system of belief, doesn't probe for clarification. He simply records what comes out of his subjects' mouths as they talk past each other. One Kabbalist says God doesn't exist, yet he believes in him. An Islamic fundamentalist says the Koran condemns non-Muslims to hell. A California imam says he's got it all wrong. Kids whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina say God protects them. Ringo explains "God is love."
Bob Geldof, who appears annoyed to have been recruited into the project, tartly declares the whole God idea "rubbish," and expects his last conscious thought to be "that was interesting." If that's his wish, let's hope he's not viewing "Oh My God" when he passes.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186