Leap Of Faith
Funny, lightly sardonic, and yet still touching and respectful look at the fringe elements of American Protestantism, this film features Steve Martin at his sequin-jacketed best, playing the quintessential I'm-In-On-The-Joke revival huckster, Jonas Nightengale, in a performance of razor-sharp clarity. Debra Winger was a wonderful foil, Lukas Haas providing one of the few successful child star transitions to adulthood in movie history, and Liam Neeson, talented though he is, the only screen clinker, awkwardly miscast as a rural plains state sheriff, Irish brogue and all (which is heard so frequently across the Great Plains - not!). The movie rocks, with no small help from a great soundtrack and backup choir, and all the glitz Hollywood can inject into sending up a faith-healing three-ring circus. But the payoff throughout this movie is Martin himself, going from con man to confusion, sarcasm to surprise, and consummate comedian throughout. That he wasn't nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for this performance was a crime against audiences and the acting profession.