I should be the perfect audience for Peter Rodger’s documentary. I’m curious and fascinated by comparative religions, and with how every faith creates both humanists and fundamentalists–including atheism.
So it’s with considerable disappointment that I have to report that I didn’t care for Oh My God? It has its interesting moments–enough to keep it from being a complete loss. There are times, especially when Rodger takes his camera to parts of the world where religious conflict has turned violent, that the drama of his subject overshadows the clumsiness of his approach. Those instances are frequent enough, and good enough, to earn this movie a C-, but nothing higher.
The concept: Rodger travels around the world, camera (and presumably crew) in hand, interviewing scholars, celebrities, and ordinary people about who and what they imagine God to be. This could have made a very good documentary, but it didn’t. Among Rodger’s mistakes:
- He includes too many interview subjects, and thus gives none of them enough time to really go into detail. Thus, we get a lot of superficial points of view, and very little depth.
- He put himself at the center of the film. Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock can get away with this because they’re charismatic and funny. Peter Rodger comes off as just some guy.
- Alexander van Bubenheim’s musical score is overdone and annoying, and sometimes makes it difficult to hear what’s being said.
- While Rodger includes some fairly important religious leaders, the film lacks any established religious scholars—people like Karen Armstrong. Or any high-profile atheists like Richard Dawkins. Certainly these people would have more interesting views on the subject than Ringo Starr. (All the atheists interviewed make a point of saying that they’re not modern, angry atheists, although Sir Bob Geldof comes off as one.)
Someone might be able to take Rodger’s outtakes and turn them into a good documentary. Unfortunately, Rodger couldn’t.